In terrible news, the world has learned that REM’s drummer Bill Rieflin has passed away aged 59. The Seattle-born musician lost his battle with cancer, and this comes after he had tragically lost his wife last year to lymphoma.
Bill was the drummer for REM from 2003 until their split in 2011, and the band sold 85 million records worldwide. Recently had been playing for prog-rockers King Crimson from 2013 until 2016, but Bill’s extensive career also saw him playing with artists that included Nine Inch Nails and UK singer Robbie Williams.
As of now, it is not clear what type of cancer Bill was suffering from, but REM confirmed his passing with singer Michael Stipe writing: “Bill Rieflin (1960-2020).
“It is with heavy hearts we acknowledge the death of our dear friend and consummate drummer, Bill.” Adding: “Bill sent me this picture last week of him and Lenny Kaye earlier this month when the Patti Smith Group were in town and they got to hang out.
“He was elated to see such great friends and gather at his favorite weird Chinese-American diner. “A forever memory is decades old, when I first met Bill at a late night Policeman’s bar in Seattle, sat at a greasy table drinking scotch, and we listened to ‘Birdland’ off the jukebox in reverent silence and awe.”
Bassist for Nirvana Krist Novoselic tweeted the following: “So sorry to hear of Bill Rieflin passing away. A straight up person and excellent musician.”
Rest In Peace Bill, you shall be missed.