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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.

Rieflin’s death was made public via social media posts by both acts he played with and their supporters. Ministry tweeted about the drummer earlier.

But it was Robert Fripp of King Crimson who appeared to have broken the news first, initially posting on Facebook about Bill’s death.

Perhaps Rieflin’s best-known work appeared on R.E.M.’s late-career records. Though never an official member, he was de facto R.E.M.’s drummer both live and in the studio from 2003 to 2011, playing on the group’s final three albums.

The Seattle native also played an on-and-off role in Robert Fripp’s rejuvenated king crimson beginning in 2013 and worked as a member of the industrial metal scene with bands like KMFDM and Ministry.

Rieflin grew up in Seattle, where he began playing in bands as a teenager. The bassist for one of those bands, Paul Barker, later joined the pioneering industrial band Ministry, eventually welcoming Rieflin into the fold as well. After playing on a 1986 single by revolting Cocks, an industrial project involving Ministry founder AI Jourgensen, Rieflin became closely involved with Ministry and its side projects for about a decade without ever joining as an official member. Rieflin’s activity in the industrial scene extended to work for Swans (he’s listed as an “honorary Swan” on The Seer), KMFDM, Pigface, Chris Connelly, and Lard.

Bill Rieflin Wife, painter Francesca Sundsten, also died of cancer last year. She did the cover art for several albums Rieflin performed on, including Pigface’s Gub, KMFDM’s Nihil, Filthy friends’ Invitation, and king Crimson’s Radical Action to Unseat the Hold Of Monkey Mind.

The latter band paid tribute to Rieflin on Twitter, writing, “Today we lost a wonderful artist, tremendous human being and an integral part of Ministry’s developments and success.”


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