To our Fans and Friends: As R.E.M., and as lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band. We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished. To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening.
With their debut album, 1983′s Murmur (iTunes, Amazon), R.E.M. went against everything on mainstream radio and foreshadowed the downfall of 80s synth-pop and hair metal—long before the Seattle bands came along and vanquished that music once and for all (guilty pleasures and our occasional nostalgia/retro indulgences notwithstanding). From the silly to the sublime (to the sublimely silly), R.E.M. has been one of the few truly, truly original bands of alternative—and eventually mainstream—music of the past three decades.
Maybe it’s easy to overstate a band’s importance in the heat of the post-breakup moment, like that ex you only remember the good times about. So let’s not forget about the bad times—I’m talkin’ about you, Around the Sun. There. Now that that’s out of the way, take a moment to appreciate all the things you’ve done to R.E.M.’s music. You’ve waxed philosophical about the meaning of “Losing My Religion.” You’ve bawled your eyes out to “Everybody Hurts.” You’ve drunkenly slurred your way through every word of “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine).”
So as we enter a state of mourning about what is, without exaggeration, the end of an era, I have but one request of R.E.M., which I am optimistic will be met: Please, no money-grabbing “reunion” tours.