Bill Rieflin drummer for King Crimson and R.E.M. died on March 24, 2020

Bill Rieflin drummer for King Crimson and R.E.M.died on March 24, 2020

William (Bill) Frederick Rieflin (September 29, 1960 – March 24, 2020) was an American musician.

Bill Rieflin came to fame in the 1990s mainly for his work as a drummer with groups such as Ministry, the Revolting Cocks, Lard, KMFDM, Pigface, Swans, Chris Connelly, and Nine Inch Nails.

Bill Rieflin began his professional musical career in his hometown of Seattle in 1975, when he was in The Telepaths, he then played drums for The Blackouts starting in 1979 with his bandmates including Mike Davidson, Paul Barker, Roland Barker and Erich Werner. 

Bill Rieflin was involved in the creation of Ministry’s album The Land of Rape and Honey, and was noted for his performance in the live video In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up (alongside fellow drummer Martin Atkins). His work with Ministry and its various side projects lasted through to the mid-nineties, though he was never credited as a member of Ministry proper, always as an “other” musician. 

He helped Martin Atkins start Pigface, the industrial collective that would grow to incorporate hundreds of artists. 

Bill Rieflin’s solo debut, Birth of a Giant featured him singing lead and  featured Robert Fripp. Improvisations from these sessions were eventually on the CD The Repercussions of Angelic Behavior, which was credited to Rieflin, Robert Fripp and Trey Gunn.

Bill Rieflin appeared on all KMFDM records released from 1995 to 2003 as a drummer, programmer, vocalist and keyboardist. He also toured with the band as a bassist in 2002 in support of its comeback album, Attak.

He also drummed for Scott McCaughey’s band, The Minus 5, which occasionally included guitarist Peter Buck. Eventually Buck offered Rieflin the opportunity to sit in with R.E.M., who were missing a permanent drummer since the 1997 departure of Bill Berry.

R.E.M. gave him the live drummer slot in its 2003 tour and later announced that Bill Rieflin would fill the role indefinitely, though as a hired musician rather than as an official member. Rieflin also contributed bouzouki, keyboards and guitars on R.E.M.’s recordings, serving as an auxiliary member until they disbanded in 2011.

Bill Rieflin formed an experimental group under the name Slow Music in 2005 (including Fripp and Buck) in which he played synthesizers rather than drums. The group played a small number of live dates in 2005 and 2006. He was also involved in a music collaboration project entitled The Humans, which included Chris Wong, Fripp and Toyah Willcox. The band performed a series of live dates in Estonia in Autumn 2007 and 2009, and released their debut album We are the Humans in 2009.

Bill Rieflin was also a regular contributor to Swans ever since the 1995 album The Great Annihilator, and played various instruments on all their studio recordings since the band reformed in 2010 and released My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky. Rieflin was listed as an “honorary Swan” on the band’s 2012 album The Seer.

In 2012, Bill Rieflin played drums for Robbie Williams’s album Take the Crown, and later that year he produced the single Crush Vaccine for Atomic Bride.

On September 6, 2013, Robert Fripp announced a new lineup for King Crimson that included Bill Rieflin as one of the band’s three drummers and he remained a member of King Crimson until his death in 2020. 

Bill Rieflin died on March 24, 2020 from cancer at the age of 59.

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