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. R.E.M.It is, they insist, an amicable parting, and there is no reason to believe otherwise. REM has always been a very close-knit band. While on the 1995 Monster tour in Europe bassist Mike Mills suffered a ruptured appendix. Mills urged them to get a stand-in bassist to continue the tour but his bandmates refused to leave him behind. They postponed several shows and stayed with Mills in Germany until he was released from the hospital and able to travel.
I became an REM fan in college when they released their second album, Reckoning. The following year they released Fables of the Reconstruction and I was hooked. Of course my youth ended long ago but as long as REM was together recording and touring it didn't seem so far in the past. I'm honestly and little sad. Now, there's only U2 -- which I knew as an alternative college band when I was in college.
You younger folks smirking will understand how this feels when the band that wrote the soundtrack to your college years calls it quits.
UPDATE: I should have mentioned above that Michael Stipe -- as Air Force brat -- attended high school in Collinsville, Illinois while his dad was stationed at Scott (I think Michael's family moved his senior year and he graduated somewhere else). When REM was St Louis in 1995 Michael looked up his best friend from Collinsivlle High who by then had a young son. They were Michael's guest at the Riverport concert that night and Michael gave them a heart-felt shout-out during the show.
What I didn't know was that while Michael was living in Collinsville he was one of the Rocky Horror junkies that used to show up at the Varsity Theater in U-City every Saturday night.
Amazingly, Joe Williams of the StL Post-Dispatch found this video. Do you recognize the kid in drag dressed as Frankenfurter?