Drummer Bill Rieflin, who has worked with the likes of legendary progressive rock band King Crimson, influential alternative rock band R.E.M. and industrial powerhouses Ministry, Pigface and Nine Inch Nails has passed away at the age of 59 today, after a battle with cancer. The performer’s death was announced by his collaborator Robert Fripp, who is the main figure behind King Crimson, on social media.
“A call from Tracy Rieflin in Seattle. Bill Rieflin flew from this world c. 18.50 Pacific, 18.50 UK,” Fripp stated in a Facebook post. “Tracy told Toyah 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.”
The performer was born in 1960 in Seattle, Washington, where he began his career with a variety of local acts, eventually attracting the likes of Al Jourgensen of Ministry due to his work with the local band the Blackouts. While he is best known as a drummer, Rieflin was also a multi-instrumentalist who played piano, guitar, and bass. In an interview with NPR the performer stated that he played the drums due to demand from the local neighborhood outfits.
In 1999 Rieflin released his solo project titled Birth of a Giant, and would go on to perform alongside R.E.M. from 2003 until their dissolution in 2011. He performed with King Crimson and Humans with Fripp’s wife Toyah Willcox from 2013 until his passing.
The performer’s death has sparked reactions from many in the music community, with artists such as Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic and Death Cab for Cutie’s Dave Depper recalling the performer.
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