Michael Stipe Mourns The Death Of Former R.E.M. Drummer Bill Rieflin

On Tuesday (March 24), Bill Rieflin passed away after a long battle with cancer at age 59. The influential drummer was best known for his work with Ministry, King Crimson, and R.E.M.

After news broke of his passing, R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe wrote a touching tribute to his bandmate and friend on the band's Instagram.

"It is with heavy hearts we acknowledge the death of our dear friend and consummate drummer, Bill," he wrote alongside a couple pictures. "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," he continued. "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."

Rieflin played with R.E.M. from 2003 until their breakup in 2011. Aside from touring with the band, he also appears on the albums Around the Sun, Accelerate, and Collapse Into Now. He most recently was a member of King Crimson but stepped away from touring in 2016.

See Stipe's emotional post below. 

Photo: Instagram @rem