Former R.E.M. and King Crimson drummer Bill Rieflin has died aged 59, according to his family.

The US musician passed away “after an eight-year duel with cancer”, a statement from his relatives said.

Rieflin also played in groups including Swans and Ministry.

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A fitting and uplifting tribute on the sad occasion of the passing of legendary drummer Bill Rieflin written by a good friend of REMHQ, @kai_riedl, which we wanted to share with all of you: “The great drummer and friend to many, Bill Rieflin, has passed over to the flip side of life, death. Not only did he rock with Ministry, Swans, Robert Fripp, Nine Inch Nails, King Crimson and and many many more, but he was the solid backbone to R.E.M. for many years. He had a depth and sincerity that I cherished to be around, and a humor that always had a foot in the playful yet never shallow. I feel comforted that Bill was a contemplative soul, had a strong meditation practice and never averted the actual meaning of life. He would always dive into it with you. I see his passing as him merely entering a vast ocean, and diving into waters he had familiarized himself with already. He's a great reminder: rock hard, swim the waters often, take the right things seriously, laugh at yourself.”

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The statement said: “Seattle native and life-long resident, Bill was a world-class musician who was at home on the drums, guitar, bass and keyboards.

“He was also an accomplished composer and producer who possessed a sophisticated ear, a depth of rare talent and complete dedication to his craft.”

It added: “His refined manner, brilliant mind, eye for the ironic and legendary sense of humour defined him as a man of discerning taste, palate and company.”

His death was also announced on Twitter by R.E.M.

A post from the band’s account said: “It is with heavy hearts we acknowledge the death of our dear friend and consummate drummer, Bill.”