Alongside the rise of new wave in the 80’s was the emergence of “college rock.” The Replacements, The Buzzcocks, Hüsker Dü and R.E.M. were the lynchpins of what would eventually merge with new wave under the nebulous “alternative” moniker.
Today, the last of those pioneers have called it quits. In a statement on their website, R.E.M. announced they are finished:
“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.”
I didn’t follow R.E.M. much post-Green, but I have a pang of grief seeing one of the iconic bands of my youth fading away. Personally, I won’t remember Micheal Stipe with a bald head and eye makeup. I won’t remember them without Bill Berry.
I’ll remember R.E.M. as a scruffy group of outsiders from Athens, Georgia who somehow managed to catch the world’s attention. Reminisce with me by watching R.E.M. pound out “Radio Free Europe” in their network television debut on Letterman, and humming along with an early demo of one of my favorites, “Begin The Begin”: