After 31 years together, 15 studio albums and 64 singles, Michael Stipe, Peter Buck and Mike Mills of R.E.M. announced today through their website that the band would be splitting up.
In a message to their fans, the band writes "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."
Stipe also added a personal message revealing why the time was right for the band to break up now. "A wise man once said – 'the skill in attending a party is knowing when it's time to leave,'" Stipe writes. "We built something extraordinary together. We did this thing and now we're going to walk away from it. I hope our fans realize this wasn't an easy decision, but all things must end and we wanted to do it right, to do it our way."
To date, R.E.M. has sold over 85 million albums worldwide.