In my morning paper every day there's a list of people celebrating birthdays that day, and I usually check it out to see if there's anyone I wish to note here on OPC. This morning, among the list of celebrants is included the following: "Rock musician Bill Rieflin (R.E.M.) is 48."
Now I am a longtime fan of R.E.M. I have every one of their albums up through and including Reveal, which wasn't very good. I wrote the article on R.E.M. for the 2004 Rolling Stone Album Guide. And I have no idea who Bill Rieflin is.
It turns out that Rieflin, who once played drums for Ministry, was the drummer in the Minus 5, a sort of ad hoc group featuring Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey, who has been an adjunct member of R.E.M. for some time now. Ever since Bill Berry's aneurysm back in 1997, R.E.M. has been without a permanent drummer, so Rieflin was invited to play drums on the band's 2004 tour, backing Around the Sun. Apparently, he plays drums on all the tracks on the new R.E.M. record, Accelerate, which I haven't heard in its entirety. At the same time, he is clearly not an offiicial member of the band, of which there are three.
Happy birthday, Bill.