Bill Rieflin — Drummer of R.E.M., Ministry and King Crimson — Dies at 59
The Seattle musician also worked with the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Chris Cornell and KMFDM
"Bill Rieflin flew from this world c. 18.50 Pacific, 18.50 UK," King Crimson's Robert Fripp wrote on Facebook. "Fly well, Brother Bill! My life is immeasurably richer for knowing you."
Meanwhile, Ministry wrote on Twitter, "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 was born in Seattle in 1960, starting in the late '70s with such bands as the Telepaths, Tupperwares and the Blackouts. This soon led him to collaborate heavily industrial heroes Ministry.
Beyond Ministry, the drummer — who also served as a multi-instrumentalist — worked with such industrial-minded acts as KMFDM, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Pigface, Revolting Cocks, Lard and many more over the years. Rieflin played with artists like Chris Cornell and Peter Murphy as well.
Beyond that, Rieflin served as R.E.M.'s touring drummer beginning in 2003, working alongside the group until they eventually broke up in 2011. He also played in spinoff project the Minus 5.
In 2013, Rieflin joined Robert Fripp in King Crimson, working alongside the act until the drummer took an indefinite hiatus last year.
Down below, you can find a selection of tribute posts for Rieflin, including from his bandmates in R.E.M.
A fitting and uplifting tribute on the sad occasion of the passing of legendary drummer Bill Rieflin written by a good friend of REMHQ, @kai_riedl, which we wanted to share with all of you: "The great drummer and friend to many, Bill Rieflin, has passed over to the flip side of life, death. Not only did he rock with Ministry, Swans, Robert Fripp, Nine Inch Nails, King Crimson and and many many more, but he was the solid backbone to R.E.M. for many years. He had a depth and sincerity that I cherished to be around, and a humor that always had a foot in the playful yet never shallow. I feel comforted that Bill was a contemplative soul, had a strong meditation practice and never averted the actual meaning of life. He would always dive into it with you. I see his passing as him merely entering a vast ocean, and diving into waters he had familiarized himself with already. He's a great reminder: rock hard, swim the waters often, take the right things seriously, laugh at yourself."
Bill Rieflin was a gentleman and a gentle man, but he could beat the shit out of a set of drums. A musical polymath, deeply intelligent and very funny. I'll miss sharing his darkness and his laughter. Words really don't suffice. R.I.P., Spill Brieflin.— Mike Mills 🌿 (@m_millsey) March 25, 2020
Today we lost a wonderful artist, tremendous human being and an integral part of Ministry's developments and success…— Ministry (@WeAreMinistry) March 24, 2020
Safe travels my brother on the way to your next universal gig.
R.I.P Bill Rieflin#MinistryBand #WeAreMinistry #Ministry #Revco #BillRieflin #RestInPeace pic.twitter.com/5YfhvGUZcR
So sorry to hear of Bill Rieflin passing away. A straight up person and excellent musician.— Krist Novoselić (@KristNovoselic) March 24, 2020
One of the wisest, kindest, funniest, grumpiest, most talented humans that has ever graced the earth has left us. Member of REM, King Crimson, and countless other projects, Bill Rieflin introduced me to so many new ways of thinking, both through his art and his friendship. pic.twitter.com/4jDp0u0fz1— Dave Depper (@davedepper) March 24, 2020