William Frederick “Bill” Rieflin, known best as the drummer for Ministry and Pigface, has passed away at age 59 from cancer. The news was confirmed by Robert Fripp of King Crimson, who Rieflin has been a member of since 2013.
In a post made on social media, Fripp confirmed Rieflin’s death with this statement:
“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.”
Fellow drummer and friend Matt Chamberlain also confirmed the news and cause of death with a loving tweet this evening:
— Matt Chamberlain (@unicorntacodog) March 24, 2020
The Seattle-based drummer, known for his heavy, pummeling style, first started on the scene as a member of The Telepaths, who would gain some local notoriety playing alongside pre-Screamers outfit The Tupperwares. Rieiflin then co-formed The Blackouts, a heavily dub-influenced post-punk outfit who attracted the attention of Ministry’s Al Jourgensen. While bassist Paul Barker would join Ministry on a full-time basis, Rieflin would contribute drums and various “other” instruments from then on as well, performing with the band during their most lucrative era – from 1988’s The Land of Rape and Honey through 1996’s Filth Pig.
As with many of Jourgensen’s collaborators, Rieflin was also heavily involved with The Revolting Cocks, Lard, and 1000 Homo DJs. While involved in these projects, Rieflin formed a close bond with Martin Atkins, and helped launch industrial collective Pigface with the musician. Rieflin would perform on the band’s 1991 record Gub, which also featured Paul Barker, Ministry’s Chris Connelly, and Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails.
Other notable collaborations include drumming on Swans‘ 1995 masterpiece The Great Annihilator, KMFDM’s Nihil, and on Nine Inch Nails‘ otherworldly “La Mer” from 1999’s The Fragile. Rieflin would also join R.E.M. full-time in 2003, filling in for Bill Berry, who left the band in 1997 after suffering a brain aneurysm. He would continue playing with R.E.M., while also performing sporadically with Swans, Angels of Light, and other assorted Michael Gira projects, often contributing bass and guitar work as well. In 2013, he became one of three drummers for King Crimson, who he remained with until his death, switching to mellotron and other keys in 2017.
All of our love to Rieflin, his family, and his friends.