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Bill Rieflin (Ministry, King Crimson, Swans, etc drummer), RIP

Bill Rieflin

Tonight, we learned of the sad news that drum legend Bill Rieflin — who played with Ministry, Swans, Revoting Cocks, Pigface, KMFDM, Swans, Nine Inch Nails, R.E.M., mostly recently King Crimson, and more — has passed away after a battle with cancer. He was 59. Variety reports:

Bill Rieflin, a remarkably versatile drummer whose work over the past 30 years spanned Ministry, R.E.M., Swans, Nine Inch Nails and King Crimson, among many others, has died after a battle with cancer, according to friends and social-media posts from several artists he performed with. He was 59.

A common thread throughout his career was the fact that he rarely joined any of the bands he worked with, rather operating as a long-term hired gun. He also frequently played with bands that included other drummers: King Crimson, his most recent group, at times featured three.

A native of Seattle, he played in a band with bassist Paul Barker, who later joined Ministry. Barker brought Rieflin into Ministry’s extended musical family of the early ‘90s, and he played with that group as well as the associated acts Revolting Cocks, Pigface and Chris Connelly.

His Seattle residency led to his next, seemingly unlikely move, into R.E.M.: guitarist Peter Buck had moved to the city and the band’s founding drummer, Bill Berry, had left in 1997. He worked with the group from 2003 through its disbanding in 2011, as well as the Minus 5, a band (occasionally featuring Buck) that was formed by fellow R.E.M. auxiliary member Scott McCaughney, as well as a project called Slow Music with Buck and Crimson founder Robert Fripp, and a project called the Humans with Fripp and Fripp’s wife, singer Toyah Wilcox.

Rest in peace, Bill. You’ll be missed and the mark you left on the music world will live on.

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