American rock band R.E.M. has announced that it will break up after 31 years of music.

Formed in Athens, Georgia, in 1980, it comprised of singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bass player Mike Mills and drummer Bill Berry.

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 posting on the group's official Web site said.

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 statement said.

The success of the sensational albums like 'Out of Time' (1991) and 'Automatic for the People' (1992) made R.E.M. become a mainstream troupe.

The band played a major role in the creation and development of the alternative rock genre.

 Peter Buck's style of playing guitar has been singled out by many as the most distinctive aspect of R.E.M.'s music.

All these years, R.E.M.'s members have sought to highlight social and political issues. They helped raise funds for environmental, feminist and human rights causes, and have been involved in campaigns to encourage voter registration.