GALLERY: Click the image above to view more photos of R.E.M. through the years.

R.E.M., one of the great American rock bands of the last 30 years, announced it is breaking up.

A statement on the band’s Web site reads: “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.”

The Athens, Ga.-bred band — vocalist Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills and, until 1997 drummer Bill Berry — became underground and college radio favorites in the 1980s on the strength of classic albums such as “Murmur,” “Reckoning” and “Document.” The ’90s saw them transition to chart-topping superstars thanks to hits such as “Losing My Religion” and “Everybody Hurts.” Even as their popularity declined, the band regularly released new material over the past decade, including its 15th album, “Collapse Into Now,” earlier this year.

Back in 2008 we tackled R.E.M.’s discography and ranked each of the band’s albums, from worst to best.

Update, 2:29 p.m. Stipe comments on the breakup:

"A wise man once said--'the skill in attending a party is knowing when it's time to leave.' 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.

"We have to thank all the people who helped us be R.E.M. for these 31 years; our deepest gratitude to those who allowed us to do this. It's been amazing."


Archives: R.E.M. in The Washington Post, through the years