The year was 1980 when singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills and drummer Bill Berry formed alternative rock band R.E.M. in Athens, Ga. The quartet-turned-trio churned out 15 albums, including Murmur, Out of Time and their most recent release, Collapse Into Now. After three decades of chart-toppers and being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, the group announced its breakup online.

"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," the group announced on their website, Wednesday. "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."

Band members also wrote personal notes on the website, explaining the reasons behind the band's end. Frontman Stipe, who was known for his murmur-like singing style in the early 80s, let fans know that R.E.M. had simply run its course. "We built something extraordinary together. We did this thing. And now we're going to walk away from it," the 51-year-old released in a statment.

Bassist Mills, 52, assured fans that the split was amicable. "We feel kind of like pioneers in this — there's no disharmony here, no falling-outs, no lawyers squaring-off," he wrote. "We've made this decision together, amicably and with each other's best interests at heart. The time just feels right." Fellow bandmate and guitarist, Buck, expressed the band's gratitude toward their many fans. "One of the things that was always so great about being in R.E.M. was the fact that the records and the songs we wrote meant as much to our fans as they did to us," Buck, 54, wrote. "It was, and still is, important to us to do right by you."

The band's original drummer, Berry, left the group in 1997 after suffering an anuerysm at a Switzerland concert in 1995. He went on to become a low-profile farmer in a small Georgia town.

According to, the band's March 2011 release, Collapse Into Now, didn't make the charts. But it has been reported by Rolling Stone that Warner Bros. Records will be releasing a greatest hits album in November.

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