After 31 years and 15 albums, the pioneering American alternative rock band R.E.M announced on September 23, that they will not be playing as a group anymore. The group, whose hits include “Shiny Happy People” and “Everybody Hurts”, were a cult band in the US college rock circuit before hitting the mainstream in the early 90s.
“To our fans and friends: As R.E.M, as lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band,” the Georgia-based band stated on its website (www.remhq.com).
With singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills and drummer Bill Berry, R.E.M brought alternative rock to the masses with a string of hits such as “Radio Free Europe” and “The End of the World As We Know It”.
Ethan Kaplan, who runs a R.E.M fan website, told Rolling Stone that pressure from Warner Bros. records on the fiercely independent band to come out with new material might have been a reason for the break-up. The band signed a contract with Warner Bros. Records in 1988 and began supporting political and environmental concerns while playing in large arenas worldwide.
However, there are no official sources confirming that pressure from the record company was the reason of the split. In any case, Mills said there was no acrimony and that the band simply felt it was time to go their separate ways. “Working through our music and memories from over three decades was a hell of a journey. We have always been a band in the truest sense of the word. Brothers, who truly love and respect each other.”
Guitarist Buck explained that he and the other band members, “Walk away as great friends. I know I will be seeing them in the future, just as I know I will be seeing everyone who has followed us and supported us through the years.”
(With additional information from rollingstone.com)
Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2011.
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