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Bill Reiflin RIP

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1K Club - QQ Shooting Star
Feb 11, 2012
Hartford, CT
Way too young. Great drummer. Saw him with Robyn Hitchcock, REM & King Crimson. Always great. RIP.


Robyn Hitchcock gave this tribute this morning:

I feel very sad about Bill Rieflin’s passing. He had a rough time in the last few years: during the later stages of his long fight with cancer (and Bill certainly fought) his beloved wife Frankie Sundsten developed lymphoma and passed away last March. Bill was deliciously un-American in his outlook: there was no “It’s all good” for him. He saw human life in all its bleakness, and was happiest at home with his cats - or playing music.

Music was his superpower. He had an almost photographic recall of any song that he heard: he could work out the chords to the most intricate composition, and play it back to you on keyboards, bass or guitar. Though best known for his drumming (especially in Ministry and REM) he latterly played bass and keyboards with a number of acts, including King Crimson. He endeared himself to me by saying that he took his cues and the timing from the vocalist on stage, rather than from the bass player or guitarist. When we played shows, Bill would slip a weird little fill into a different song every night, as a way of saying “hello” to me: I’d turn around from the mic, and we’d smile at each other.

He was also insistent that every run-through of a song in the soundcheck had to stop before the end: that way the night’s performance would be the only complete one, and therefore had to be the best. Bill was a very particular guy, and anything from a recording to a hotel room that he found inadequate had to be replaced with a better one. In many ways, he was quite rigorous, but, bless him, he enjoyed a drink when he needed to, and we did a fair amount of grooving together across the map.
Just before his first operation for prostate cancer in 2012, Bill and I were playing a festival at the Norwegian fishing town of Egersund. We visited each of its three funky Chinese restaurants and imagined how they might be trans-dimensional portals. Enjoy the fried rice, Bill, and don’t go hoping too much from the prawns. I’ll see you out there...


400 Club - QQ All-Star
Mar 20, 2018
Ohio, USA
damn, this year continues to take its wrath out on drummers.
Thanks for the Hitchcock post, it was a worthwhile read. I dig the part about not playing to completion in rehearsal.