REM’s drummer Bill Rieflin has died aged 59 after losing his battle with cancer.

The Seattle-born musician, who lost his wife last year to lymphoma, played with the legendary US band from 2003 until their split in 2011.

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REM drummer Bill Rieflin has died aged 59Credit: Getty – Contributor Bill Rieflin alongside REM frontman Michael Stipe and guitarist Peter Buck on NBC's Tonight Show

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Bill Rieflin alongside REM frontman Michael Stipe and guitarist Peter Buck on NBC’s Tonight Show

Bill had been part of long-running progressive rock band King Crimson from 2013 until 2016 and had worked with an electic list of artists including industrial rockers Nine Inch Nails and Brit pop star Robbie Williams.

But it will be his role in the iconic REM, who sold 85 million records worldwide, for which he will be best remembered.

It is not clear what type of cancer Bill was suffering from.

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.

ICONIC DRUMMER

“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.”

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Born in Seattle, Washington, in 1960, Bill began playing with local bands before joining the Ministry – an industrial metal group who gained popularity in the 1980s.

He began playing with REM in 2003 following the retirement of regular drummer Bill Berry.

Last year, his wife Francesca Sundsten, a painter, died after battling lymphoma.

Michael Stipe and REM perform in Berlin

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