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Bill Rieflin, Drummer for Ministry, R.E.M., King Crimson Dead at Age 59

The life of another great drummer has been taken from us. Bill Rieflin, the versatile drummer for Ministry, R.E.M. and King Crimson, Nine Inch Nails, Swans and many more died yesterday, March 24, after losing his battle with brain cancer. He was 59 years old.

Photo Credit: Brooklyn Vegan

Rieflin was a native of Seattle. Early on in his career, he played in a band with bassist Paul Barker who later joined Ministry. Barker brought Rieflin into the band in the early 90’s. After that, Rieflin began playing with several other bands including Revolting Cocks, Pigface and Chris Connelly.

Later in his career, Rieflin explored new genres by playing with R.E.M. Peter Buck of R.E.M. had just moved to Seattle and the band was in need of a drummer after their former drummer, Bill Berry decided to move on. Rieflin played with R.E.M. from 2003 until they disbanded in 2011.

At this point in his career, Rieflin would also play in several other bands including Minus 5, which he played in with Scott McCaughney, also of R.E.M., Slow Music which featured Peter Buck and King Crimson founder Robert Fripp and the Humans with Fripp, a project that included Fripp and his wife Toyah Wilcox.

The Fripp connection would eventually lead to Rieflin playing in King Crimson. He started out as a drummer for the band in 2013 and then went on to play keyboards for them as Rieflin was a very talented musician and multi-instrumentalist. In addition to playing keyboards and drums, he also sang and played bass. His talents allowed him to work on several solo projects and he also played drums, bass, keyboards and sang for the band KMFDM.

It was around this time when he also began playing with the Swans and took on drum duties on Robbie Williams’ album Take the Crown.

Although Rieflin played in many bands, he always maintained a ‘hired gun’ status never actually joining any of them.

Rieflin’s loss is a great blow to the music community. Here is what some of his fellow artists had to say.

Toyah Wilcox: “Our dear, wonderful Bill Rieflin flew from this world today. Much loved HUMAN and member of King Crimson. Family by his side. Forever in our hearts.”

Film Score Composer Peter Albrechtsen: “One of the great drummers have left us: Bill Rieflin. Just 59 years old, way too young. Played on lots of amazing albums with Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, R.E.M. and Swans among many others. Thank you for all the brilliant beats, rousing rhythms and inspiring music.”

Ministry: Today we lost a wonderful artist, tremendous human being and an integral part of Ministry’s developments and success. Safe travels my brother on the way to your next universal gig.”

Rieflin made a huge impact on the music community and he will be missed. RIP Bill Rieflin.

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