Bill Rieflin, drummer for REM, King Crimson and Ministry passes away at 59
Bill Rieflin, the drummer who played with bands including REM, Nine Inch Nails and King Crimson in a career spanning more than 30 years, has died aged 59. Rieflin was diagnosed with cancer
Rieflin’s passing was confirmed by King Crimson founder Robert Fripp. In a post to social media, the guitarist explained that Rieflin’s wife, Tracy, called him with the news. “Tracy told Toyah (Fripp's wife) and me that the day was grey, and as Bill flew away the clouds opened, and the skies were blue for about fifteen minutes. Fly well, Brother Bill! My life is immeasurably richer for knowing you.”
Rieflin was born in 1960 in Seattle, Washington. He got his start in music in the late 70s with local bands the Telepaths, Tupperwares, and the Blackouts. When Al Jourgensen invited the Blackouts join him in the industrial powerhouse that was Ministry; while he was never an official member, he left an indelible mark on the group’s identity.
Despite working extensively in the industrial metal genre with other bands including KMFDM and Pigface, he became a member of R.E.M. in the early 2000s after the retirement of original drummer Bill Berry. He played on the albums Around The Sun, Accelerate, and Collapse Into Now.
Rieflin later joined King Crimson in 2013 and was part of a world tour with the group and appear on five of their ensuing live albums, released between 2015-18. More recently, the drummer had been absent from the group since taking an indefinite sabbatical in 2019.
Rieflin was renowned for his work in Nineties industrial bands, performing in groups including Ministry, Revolting Cocks, Pigface, KMFDM and Swans. He had also played with Peter Murphy, Chris Cornell, Nine Inch Nails, and many others.
No official cause of death has been revealed.