Andy Rourke, bassist for the legendary indie band The Smiths, has passed away at the age of 59 after being diagnosed with cancer.
Rourke's bandmate Johnny Marr announced the news on social media, writing: "It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Andy Rourke after a lengthy illness with pancreatic cancer."
Marr went on to say that Rourke would be remembered 'as a kind and beautiful soul by those who knew him and as a supremely gifted musician by music fans'.
"We request privacy at this sad time," he added in the statement.
Rourke featured heavily in the Smiths’ classic back catalogue, with some hit tracks including 'This Charming Man' and 'There Is a Light That Never Goes Out'.
He was the main bassist for the band between 1982 and 1986, and again from 1986 to 1987, and performed on all four of their studio albums including the debut album The Smiths in 1984.
That was followed one year later by Meat Is Murder, then The Queen Is Dead and Strangeways, Here We Come.
As well as being a key member of The Smiths, Rourke also performed on solo songs for Morrissey after The Smiths disbanded in 1987.
Two decades later Rourke went on to form the group Freebass with the Stone Roses' Mani and New Order's Peter Hook, and throughout his career he also racked up performances with a number of other famous musicians, including Sinead O’Connor, the Pretenders, Ian Brown and, in the group DARK, The Cranberries vocalist Dolores O’Riordan.
Tributes quickly started flooding in for Rouke following the news of his death, with Suede bassist Mat Osman among those honouring the late musician.
He wrote: "Aw man. RIP Andy Rourke. A total one-off - a rare bassist whose sound you could recognise straight away. I remember so clearly playing that Barbarism break over and over, trying to learn the riff, and marvelling at this steely funk driving the track along."
The Smiths producer Stephen Street also paid tribute, writing: “I am so saddened to hear this news! Andy was a superb musician and a lovely guy. I haven’t been able to read any other news about details yet but I send my deepest condolences and thoughts to his friends and family. RIP”.
Another fan commented: "Terribly sad news about Andy Rourke. Bass with The Smiths. What a talent. As signature to their sound as Morrissey’s voice and Johnny Marr’s guitar."
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact Macmillan’s Cancer Support Line on 0808 808 00 00, 8am–8pm seven days a week.