So Long, R.E.M.

R.E.M. Breaks Up: 10 Rock Bands We Can Still Believe In (Photos)

R.E.M. has called it quits, but see photos of the Rolling Stones and other long-running bands.

Corbis (3); AP Photo (ZZ Top)

Corbis (3); AP Photo (ZZ Top)

R.E.M. just announced it's breaking up after 31 years. From the Rolling Stones to ZZ Top, see photos of bands that have never stopped rocking—including two celebrating 50th anniversaries.

AP Photo

The Rolling Stones

Though the Rolling Stones have endured the death of Brian Jones and the loss of members such as Bill Wyman, Ian Stewart, and “Little Mick” Taylor, they are still making music after 49 years. Last year, the tempestuous relationship between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards added a contentious new chapter when Richards published his memoir, Life, and noted that Jagger was “unbearable” and had a “tiny todger.” But the band may still reunite for a golden-anniversary tour in 2012. On Monday, Jagger addressed the rumor: "I have no idea if there is going to be a tour," the Stones front man said in an interview. "We haven't really discussed it. We are talking about if next year is the 50th anniversary, sort of. It depends where you are counting from."

AP Photo

ZZ Top

They’ve got beards and they know how to use them. But in 1969, when ZZ Top first started playing together, Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill had only a modest set of whiskers. (Easy way to remember it: Frank Beard is the beardless member.) Over the past 42 years, the “Little Ol’ Band From Texas” has sold more than 50 million albums, had six No. 1 hits, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. As for the secret to their longevity, Gibbons said in 2008: “We still enjoy doing what we do, more than most anything else that a given day might offer.”

Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images


While the lineup has changed considerably over the years—most notably when Peter Cetera left in 1985—Chicago has been playing mellow rock with horns since 1967. It has had an impressive five No. 1 albums and 21 top-10 hits over the past 44 years, including “If You Leave Me Now,” its first No. 1 single, in 1976. “It is original music, and most of the songs are very, very good, very sophisticated,” founding member Robert Lamm says of Chicago’s staying power, “and people around the world, they sense that the music is authentic, and that's what keeps us going.''

Richard E. Aaron, Redferns / Getty Images,Richard E. Aaron

Earth, Wind & Fire

Like those of Chicago, the members of Earth, Wind & Fire have varied throughout the decades, but their sound—soulful funk that’s heavy on the horn section—has always remained elemental. Founded in 1969 by Verdine and Maurice White, EWF has as its signature voice Philip Bailey’s falsetto, but it’s the blending of many musical influences that has fueled the band’s staying power. In 2000, when Earth, Wind & Fire was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the original lineup reunited for the first time in 20 years.

Denis O'Regan / Corbis


They wanted to rock and roll all night and party every day, and nearly 40 years later, Kiss is still living the dream. Founded in New York City in 1973, Kiss became one of the defining glam-metal bands of the '70s with its Kabuki makeup, outrageous costumes, and blood-spitting performances. At the height of its popularity, the band had its own eponymous comic book, a tradition that lives on today: in November, the wholesome gang from Archie will team up with Kiss in a new comic.

Jose Manuel Vidal / EPA-Corbis


What has powered AC/DC throughout its 38-year career? Consistency. “We’ve always stuck to that hard-edge thing, and we’ve kept that all the way through,” guitarist Angus Young told VH1 earlier this year. “We haven’t drifted off into different things like disco or raps. We haven’t sort of tried to take on what’s the latest thing.” Founded by Young and his brother Malcolm in Sydney in 1973, the pioneering heavy-metal band has sold more than 200 million albums worldwide and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.

Bebeto Matthews / AP Photos


When Steven Tyler threatened to quit Aerosmith in 2009, guitarist Joe Perry immediately called his bluff. "We’ll probably find somebody else that will sing in those spots where we need a singer,” Perry said of Tyler’s departure, “and then we’ll be able to move Aerosmith up a notch, move the vibe up a notch.” Then again, when you’ve played together—off and on—since 1970, creative conflicts are bound to occur. But the results speak for themselves: Aerosmith is the bestselling American rock band of all time and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

Roger Ressmeyer / Corbis


By the time Santana had its big breakthrough, performing “Soul Sacrifice” at Woodstock in 1969, the band had already been together two years. Founded in San Francisco in 1967, Santana has defined Latin rock for four decades and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. Among the keys to the band’s longevity is “discipline,” says its namesake founder, Carlos Santana: “Teens don’t want to hear that. They think they can just snap their fingers, and voilà! But with discipline come knowledge, coordination, balance, muscle memory, confidence—things that make it possible to hit the bull’s-eye three times in a row. But you must practice.”

Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

The Beach Boys

For the past 50 years, the Beach Boys have lived one long, endless summer. “America’s Band” was founded in Hawthorne, Calif., in 1961, where the Wilson brothers—Brian, Carl, and Dennis—first practiced their surf-culture harmonies. Their 1966 masterpiece, Pet Sounds, pushed the Beatles to expand their musical boundaries—they answered with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band—and Katy Perry would never have written “California Gurls” if the Beach Boys hadn’t dreamed of them first. To commemorate the band’s golden anniversary, in November the Beach Boys will finally release The Smile Sessions, the legendary album they recorded in 1966 and 1967 but have withheld for decades.

Golden Earring

Though its roster has changed over the years, Golden Earring claims to be the longest-existing rock band. Founded in The Hague in 1961 (as The Golden Earrings), the Dutch band is best known for its 1973 hit “Radar Love” and 1982’s “Twilight Zone.” Not only is Golden Earring still touring in its golden-anniversary year, but in July the band went to Abbey Road Studios in London to record a new album.