I've seen every band or singer live that I've wanted to except for a handful. Obviously when it comes to bands The Beatles would be on that list along with The Band. I'll never get to see either thanks to the passing of some great performers. Also on that list is REM, which shocked fans by announcing it's the end today.
REM helped ignite the genre of college or alternative music in the early 1980's. I didn't pay much attention just like I pretty much ignored U2 for most of the 80's. But along came a music video on MTV that grabbed me probably more than any video I ever saw, period. "Losing My Religion" made REM a hugely popular band starting a ride of three very successful albums, "Out of Time," "Automatic for the People," and "Monster."
By the late 90's the band was running out of steam. "New Adventures in Hi-Fi" was just okay and the albums that followed had moments but lacked the power of the aforementioned trio. Actually REM's early albums like "Murmur," "Life's Rich Pageant," and "Green" are outstanding in their own right.
When I first saw today's news of REM's retirement on Facebook my guts told me this was about selling records or their inability to do so in today's crazy world where music is stolen left and right. An article on the band in "Rolling Stone" party confirmed my suspicions.
REM's only choice to make money was to tour. I'm not sure Michael Stipe, Mike Mills and Peter Buck wanted to grind it out for dollars that way. They've made a ton of dough already and the lure of touring probably doesn't appeal to the group, especially Stipe, the band's lead singer. My hope is that a few years down the road someone will pile up enough cash in front of REM to lure them back out for one more go. In the meantime I'll have to be satisfied with videos like this of my favorite REM song.