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R.E.M. Breaks Up After Three Decades, Thanks Fans for Listening

U.S. band R.E.M. has announced that it is breaking up after a three-decade career in which it has sold more than 30 million albums. Source: Warner Bros. Records via Bloomberg

Sept. 21 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. rock band R.E.M. has announced that it is breaking up after a three-decade career in which it has sold more than 30 million albums.

The group, which became one of the biggest in the world thanks to collections such as “Automatic for the People” and “Out of Time,” made the announcement on its website.

“To our Fans and Friends,” read the statement, “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.”

The band won critical acclaim during its career and entry to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It has completed a five-album agreement with Warner Brothers that was reported to be worth $80 million. The original quartet that made the 1983 debut “Murmur” was reduced to a trio when drummer Bill Berry retired in 1997 after suffering a brain aneurysm. Singer Michael Stipe, bassist Mike Mills and guitarist Peter Buck agreed to his wish to carry on without him.

The band sold about 20 million record units since 1991 in sales tracked by industry database Nielsen SoundScan, and at least another 10 million in the years before that. Its most recent album, “Collapse Into Now,” sold 142,000 copies, according to Billboard. The CD produced some critical comments that the band had run out of ideas.

“The skill in attending a party is knowing when it's time to leave,” Stipe said in the statement. “We built something extraordinary together. Now we're going to walk away from it.”

To contact the writer on the story: Mark Beech in London at or

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at

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