Michael Stipe

R.E.M, the Grammy-winning American rock band led by openly-gay lead singer Michael Stipe, has announced that it has disbanded.

In a statement on its website, the group said that “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,” said the band, consisting of Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills and drummer Bill Berry.

Stipe added: “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 realise this wasn’t an easy decision; but all things must end, and we wanted to do it right, to do it our way.”

Earlier this year, Stipe – who lives with his partner, New York based photographer Thomas Dozol – said that he considers himself 80% gay.

“On a sliding scale of sexuality I’d place myself around 80-20, but I definitely prefer men to women,” the 51-year-old singer told The Guardian. “I had sex with, and enjoyed sex with, women until I met someone that I fell in love with, and who is now my boyfriend.”

Formed in Athens, Georgia, in 1980, R.E.M. is known for hits including Shiny Happy People, Losing My Religion, Everybody Hurts and What’s the Frequency, Kenneth? The band has sold over 70 million records around the world but its recent releases have generally garnered a mixed critical response.

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