R.E.M.: Stipe and Mills Pay Tribute to Late Drummer

Michael Stipe and Mike Mills of R.E.M. have shared their thoughts about their late drummer Bill Rieflin.

Rieflin, who died Tuesday at the age of 59 after dealing with prostate cancer for eight years, played with the band from 2003 to 2011. Stipe wrote on Instagram, “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. His attentiveness to that song then and there indicated a lot to me about what it would be to work with Bill — which commenced to create some magical and beautiful collaborations and life long friendships.”

Mills tweeted, “Bill Rieflin was a gentleman and a gentle man, but he could beat the [crap] out of a set of drums. A musical polymath, deeply intelligent and very funny. I’ll miss sharing his darkness and his laughter. Words really don’t suffice.”

Robyn Hitchcock, whose long-time backing band the Venus 3 featured Rieflin and R.E.M.’s Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey, also wrote a lengthy tribute and said that “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.”

View this post on Instagram

Bill Rieflin (1960-2020) It is with heavy hearts we acknowledge the death of our dear friend and consummate drummer, Bill. 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. His attentiveness to that song then and there indicated a lot to me about what it would be to work with Bill— which commenced to create some magical and beautiful collaborations and life long friendships. And so to Bill now, he is among all the fine points of the stars and we are looking up with love— and with our own reverence for his beauty, his humor, his relentless curiosity and of course his incredible musical ear, his time here with us so precious and golden. —-Michael Photo of Bill and Michael, West Seattle, 2019

A post shared by R.E.M. (@rem) on

Concert Calendar

There is no custom code to display.