Legendary Athens, Georgia based rock band R.E.M. has decided to break up, ending a long career in music spanning since 1980 when lead singer Michael Stipe and guitarist Peter Buck formed the great alternative rock act. R.E.M. quickly became a favorite act of small college radio stations, growing a cult following of fans before breaking into the larger growing market for modern alternative rock.
Michael Stipe and Peter buck were both college students back in 1980 and worked together at a record store with both sharing a common love for the punk rock and protopunk scene, where older acts like The Velvet Underground as well as newer acts like Patti Smith became huge influences in the R.E.M. sound.
R.E.M. released 15 albums, starting with 1983’s MURMUR. Their last album, 2011’s COLLAPSE INTO NOW took three years to release since their 2008 release ACCELERATE. In November, the band will introduce a compilation album that apparently includes their greatest songs along with some unheard rarities. PART LIES, PART HEART, PART TRUTH, PART GARBAGE will span the years from their early 1982 I.R.S. record label days to the present day. 9 of 15 albums have reached the top ten on the U.S. album charts, including six albums among the top three albums in the nation. That’s an impressive record of achievement.
Michael Stipe and his fellow band members have also closely associated themselves and R.E.M. with sometimes controversial progressive political causes. But, considering their alternative rock audience of sometimes angry young fans, a little flirt of radical politics probably doesn’t hurt their image much and seems to go with the territory.
The story of the band’s breakup is still big news to fans though. This is a supergroup of alternative rock and one of the few remaining elder bands of this genre of music. Athens, Georgia you don’t normally associate as a birthplace for alternative music, yet R.E.M. has managed to prove that a new cutting edge sound can come from anywhere. R.E.M. has done music proud for just over thirty years. It’s sad to that come to an end.