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Bill Rieflin
Rieflin smiling while drumming
Rieflin drumming with Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3 in 2009
Background information
Birth name William Frederick Rieflin
Born (1960-09-30)September 30, 1960
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Died March 24, 2020(2020-03-24) (aged 59)
Occupation(s) Multi-instrumentalist, producer
Instruments Drums, keyboards, guitar, bass
Associated acts Ministry, R.E.M., Sweet 75, Revolting Cocks, KMFDM, Pigface, Nine Inch Nails, King Crimson, Robbie Williams, Swans

William Frederick Rieflin (September 30, 1960 – March 24, 2020) was an American musician. Rieflin came to prominence in the 1990s mainly for his work as a drummer with groups (particularly in the industrial rock and industrial metal scenes) such as Ministry, the Revolting Cocks, Lard, KMFDM, Pigface, Swans, Chris Connelly, and Nine Inch Nails. He worked regularly with R.E.M. following the retirement of Bill Berry in 1997. He was a member of King Crimson from 2013 until his death in 2020.


Rieflin was born on September 30, 1960 (some sources say September 29) and began his professional career in his hometown of Seattle. In 1975, he was in The Telepaths, a band which played backup for a couple of live gigs by the pre-The Screamers band The Tupperwares. He played drums for The Blackouts starting in 1979. His bandmates included Mike Davidson, Paul Barker, Roland Barker and Erich Werner. Eventually that band dissolved and Paul Barker joined the nascent Ministry. His earliest collaboration with Al Jourgensen was on the second single by the Revolting Cocks, "You Often Forget".

Later, he participated in the creation of Ministry's album The Land of *** 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 side projects lasted through to the mid-nineties, though he noted that he was never credited as a member of Ministry proper, always as an "other" musician. Therefore, when he parted ways with the band during the Filth Pig sessions, he did not really quit since he was never an official member.

Rieflin helped Atkins kick off Pigface, the industrial collective that would grow to incorporate hundreds of artists, formed a friendship with labelmate Chris Connelly and founded First World Music. Like Connelly, Rieflin's work grew beyond his industrial roots. They collaborated on several recordings; two in particular, The Ultimate Seaside Companion (as "The Bells") and Largo, showcase Rieflin's keyboard skills.

Rieflin's solo debut, Birth of a Giant, featured him singing in something other than a background role, and also featured Robert Fripp. Improvisations from these sessions turned up later on the CD The Repercussions of Angelic Behavior, which was credited to Rieflin, Fripp and Trey Gunn.

Rieflin appeared on all KMFDM records released from 1995 to 2003 as a drummer, programmer, vocalist and keyboardist. He toured with the band as a bassist in 2002 in support of its comeback album, Attak and performed on the 2011 KMFDM album, ***?!. 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. The band gave him the live drummer slot in its 2003 tour. They later announced that Rieflin would fill the role indefinitely, though once again as a hired musician rather than as an official member. In recordings, Rieflin also contributed bouzouki, keyboards and guitars to the group, serving as an auxiliary member until R.E.M. disbanded in 2011.

Rieflin was key to forming an experimental ensemble named Slow Music in 2005 with Fred Chalenor, Hector Zazou, Matt Chamberlain, Peter Buck, and Robert Fripp; in this sextet Rieflin played synthesizers rather than drums. The group played a small handful of live dates in 2005 and 2006 and became inactive until 2014, when they played a few shows as a quintet due to Zazou's passing in 2008. He was also involved in a music collaboration project entitled The Humans, which consisted of him, 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. Hector Zazou's 2010 album Corps Electriques featured Rieflin, as well as KatieJane Garside, Lone Kent and nu-jazz trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær.

R.E.M. in London, 2008-03-24 at Royal Albert Hall 12
Rieflin drumming behind R.E.M. on the band's final tour in 2008

Rieflin was a regular contributor to Swans ever since the 1995 album The Great Annihilator, and played an array of 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 is listed as an "honorary Swan" on the band's 2012 album The Seer.

In 2012, Rieflin performed on drums for Robbie Williams's album Take the Crown. Later that year he produced the single Crush Vaccine for Atomic Bride.

In an online diary entry dated September 6, 2013, Robert Fripp announced a new lineup for King Crimson that included Rieflin as one of the band's three drummers. A few days after the first full-length live release of the band with Rieflin on board (Live in Toronto 2015), Fripp announced Rieflin's decision to take a sabbatical from the band, effective March 6, 2016, "a decision supported by all the Crimson Brothers." In early 2017, Fripp announced that Rieflin would be returning alongside his replacement, Jeremy Stacey. Due to Fripp's desire to stave off complacency after several years of touring, Rieflin "will be focusing on mellotron, keys and fairy dusting, rather than using drums as a main instrument" in the new Double Quartet configuration, thus becoming the band's first full-time keyboardist ever. For the US Autumn 2017 tour dates in October–November, he was replaced on keyboards by the Seattle-based guitarist Chris Gibson. He rejoined in 2018 before taking another indefinite sabbatical in 2019, he was replaced on keyboards by Soft Machine's sax player Theo Travis., who was fired after a few rehearsals. Fripp and the band made the decision to not replace Rieflin, thus reverting King Crimson to a seven-member band.

Personal life and death

Rieflin was married to painter Francesca Sundsten until her death in 2019. Rieflin died on March 24, 2020 from colon cancer at the age of 59.


Cells with thistle-colored daggers (Live release) indicate a live release

Name of release year, artist, release title and Rieflin's contribution
Year Artist Title Contribution Ref.
1988 Ministry The Land of *** and Honey Drums, programming, keyboards, guitar, background vocals
1988 Revolting Cocks Live! You *** dagger Drums
1989 Ministry The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste Drums, programming, background vocals
1990 Revolting Cocks Beers, Steers, and Queers Drums, programming
1990 Ministry In Case You Didn't Feel Like Showing Up dagger Drums
1990 Lard The Last Temptation of Reid Drums (two tracks)
1990 1000 Homo DJs "Supernaut" Drums
1990 KMFDM Naïve Drums (one track)
1991 Pigface Gub Drums, guitar, bass, synthesizer, sounds
1991 Pigface Lean Juicy Pork Interviewee
1992 Ministry Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to *** Eggs Drums
1992 Revolting Cocks Big *** Land Drums
1992 Pigface Welcome to Mexico... *** dagger Drums
1993 Revolting Cocks Linger Ficken' Good Drums, organ, programming, production
1995 Swans The Great Annihilator Drums, sounds, percussion, 12-string acoustic guitar, sequencing
1995 KMFDM Nihil Drums (three tracks)
1995 Michael Gira Drainland Rhythm programming, keyboards, electric bass guitar, samples, engineering, production, arrangement, studio provision
1996 Ministry Filth Pig Drums (one track)
1996 KMFDM Xtort Drums
1996 Swans Soundtracks for the Blind Drums
1997 Lard Pure Chewing Satisfaction Drums
1997 KMFDM Symbols Drums, programming, percussion, photography, sequencing (three tracks)
1997 Sweet 75 Sweet 75 Drums (listed as percussion), piano
1999 Angels of Light New Mother Percussion, piano, bass guitar, organ, synthesizers, acoustic guitar, backing vocals
1999 KMFDM Adios Programming (one track)
1999 Nine Inch Nails The Fragile Drums (one track)
1999 Bill Rieflin The Repercussions of Angelic Behavior Drums, mixing
1999 Bill Rieflin Birth of a Giant Drums, bass, guitar, production, vocals
2000 Lard 70's Rock Must Die Drums (one track)
2001 Bill Rieflin & Chris Connelly Largo Keyboards, mixing, piano, production, vocals
2001 Land Road Movies Drums
2002 KMFDM Attak Drums, bass, programming, synthesizers, percussion, guitar
2003 KMFDM Sturm & Drang Tour 2002 dagger Bass
2003 KMFDM WWIII Drums, vocals, loops (three tracks)
2004 R.E.M. Around the Sun Drums, percussion
2005 Slow Music Live At The Croc 19 Oct 2005 synthesizer
2006 Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3 Olé! Tarantula Choir, drums, percussion
2007 Angels of Light We Are Him Drums, bass, guitar, organ, percussion, piano, synthesizers
2007 R.E.M. R.E.M. Live dagger Drums
2008 R.E.M. Accelerate Drums
2009 Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3 Goodnight Oslo Drums, vocal harmony, vocals
2009 The Humans We Are the Humans Drums, bass, synthesizers, organ, production
2009 R.E.M. Live at the Olympia dagger Drums
2010 Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3 Propellor Time Drums
2010 Swans My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky Drums, piano, guitar, synthesizers, organ, vocals
2011 R.E.M. Collapse into Now Drums, bouzouki, keyboards, guitar
2011 KMFDM ***?! Engineering, sounds (one track)
2011 The Humans Sugar Rush Percussion, keyboards, bass, production
2012 Swans The Seer Drums, piano, organ, guitar, percussion, synthesizers, bass, vocals
2013 Taylor Swift "The Last Time" Drums
2014 The Humans Strange Tales Drums, keyboards, guitar, bass, sounds, vocals, production
2014 Swans To Be Kind Drums, percussion, synthesizers, piano, guitar, bass, keyboards
2015 King Crimson Live at the Orpheum dagger Drums, percussion, synthesizers, vocals
2016 King Crimson Live in Toronto dagger Drums, percussion, keyboards
2016 Swans The Glowing Man Drums, piano, synthesizers, bass, guitar, vocals
2016 King Crimson Radical Action to Unseat the Hold of Monkey Mind dagger Drums, keyboards
2017 King Crimson Live in Chicago dagger Keyboards
2018 Lead into Gold The Sun Behind the Sun Drums
2018 King Crimson Meltdown: Live in Mexico City dagger Keyboards, production

See also

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