Ten years ago today, it felt like the end of the world for R.E.M. fans, as the college radio favorites-turned-rock icons broke up for good.
On September 21, 2011, the group — down to a trio of Michael Stipe, Mike Mills and Peter Buck following the 1997 departure of Bill Berry — posted a message on their website, reading, “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,” they added. “To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening.”
Mills wrote, “We’ve made this decision together, amicably and with each other’s best interests at heart. The time just feels right.”
Stipe added, “A wise man once said, ‘The skill in attending a party is knowing when it’s time to leave.’ We built something extraordinary together. We did this thing. And now we’re going to walk away from it.”
And Buck wrote, “Being a part of your lives has been an unbelievable gift. Thank you.”
To mark the anniversary, R.E.M has posted a playlist of songs called “Ten Years Onward,” described as “songs still as resonant today as they were on September 21, 2011.” It’s a collection of singles, deep cuts, demos, live tracks and rarities from across R.E.M.’s entire catalog.
On his Facebook page, the band’s manager, Bertis Downs, wrote, “Disbandment Day — a bittersweet day in memory. But a good decision by the guys. And thankfully the music and the people live on.”
Over their 31-year career, R.E.M. won three Grammys, sold 85 million albums worldwide and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
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