Athens, GA, bands of the 1990s are supposed to be having a resurgence this year, not retiring. But R.E.M. just has to buck the trend, as it announced today that it is dissolving as a band after 31 years. The band rode a wave of success brought on by constant play on college radio and a reputation as alt-rock pioneers. After several acclaimed albums, a trio of Grammy Awards and an induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2007, the band may be finally worn out. “A wise man once said—’the skill in attending a party is knowing when it’s time to leave,'” Michael Stipe said in an announcement on R.E.M.’s website today. “We built something extraordinary together. We did this thing. And now we’re going to walk away from it.”
R.E.M. released 15 albums in its history, the most recent being 2011’s Collapse Into Now. The group toured extensively, using the platform and its major label status to give voice to issues like human and animal rights. Yet the guys never forgot Athens, GA, where they formed R.E.M. They gave locally to many Athens-based charities and to restore historic locales. Their legacy though will be strongest felt in music, where it will also be sorely missed. R.I.P. R.E.M. Here’s to the memories.