Rest in peace, Bill Rieflin: Ministry, “Work For Love (1983)”


Word circulated late last night that drummer Bill Rieflin lost his battle with cancer at the age of only 59.

The discography of Rieflin’s work reads like a “who’s who” of industrial rock. Rieflin played either in studio, on tour, or both with a wide variety of bands. A quick scan of the list shows KFMDM, Revolting Cocks, Nine Inch Nails, R.E.M, King Crimson, and a host of others.

Rieflin started drumming in Seattle in the mid 1970s, and by the early 80s he was working sessions with a variety of producers. Work with Al Jourgenson in the early days of Chicago band Ministry led to a few breakthrough alternative hits. The band’s 1989 LP The Land of Rape and Honey yielded “Every Day is Halloween,” which crossed from the clubs to Old Style Dry beer commercials by 1990. (No, really. And do you remember Old Style Dry?) He also hit the skins on “Jesus Built My Hotrod,” which is a CD single I bought in 1992 and have been known to play at a stupid level of volume from time to time.

In fact, it’s Ministry that I thought of immediately upon hearing the news. When I got to Lewis University’s WLRA in the fall of 1987, my musical tastes ranged from Oldies all the way to Classic Rock. It wasn’t until I spent some time in the radio station that I discovered that there was a whole lot of music I had missed through the 80s that I really liked. The station had a well-worn copy of Ministry’s With Sympathy LP. A couple of the songs had been put on “cart” – cartridge tape for easy cueing by lazy disc jockeys. Carted songs were also safe for newbies like me who didn’t know the material – if someone thought to put this one in the studio, it must be good. And that’s how I discovered both “Revenge” and “Work For Love,” which evoke a very clear picture for me still of sitting in the basement of Fitzpatrick Hall on Saturday afternoon, wondering if anyone was really listening. College radio had kicked open a door for me, and it wasn’t the first time that it would.

I know that Rieflin didn’t play on the track, but the music and the memories have blurred after 33 or so years. And the tunes are all still pretty solid.

You can hear “Work For Love” by Ministry by clicking here.


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