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Andy Rourke, former The Smiths bassist, dead at 59

Andy Rourke performs at the Manchester vs Cancer charity concert in Manchester, England on January 29, 2006. (Photo by Damien Maguire/Shutterstock via CNN)

LONDON (CNN) — Andy Rourke, bassist for legendary English rock band The Smiths, has died at age 59 after a battle with pancreatic cancer, his former bandmate announced Friday.

“It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Andy Rourke after a lengthy illness with pancreatic cancer,” guitarist Johnny Marr wrote on Twitter.

“Andy will be remembered as a kind and beautiful soul by those who knew him and as a supremely gifted musician by music fans,” Marr said.

“We request privacy at this sad time,” he added.

Rourke joined The Smiths in 1982, and played alongside the band until their split in 1987 ahead of the release of their fourth studio album, “Strangeways, Here We Come.”

During a decades-long music career, he went on to play with The Smiths frontman Morrissey on his solo projects after the group disbanded, as well as performing with artists including Sinéad O’Connor, The Pretenders, Badly Drawn Boy and guitarist Aziz Ibrahim.

In 2005, Rourke formed the supergroup Freebass, along with fellow bassists Peter Hook, formerly of New Order and Joy Division, and Gary “Mani” Mounfield of the Stone Roses and Primal Scream.

Suede bassist Mat Osman paid tribute to Rourke, calling him “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,” he reminisced.

The Smiths producer Stephen Street added: “I am so saddened to hear this news! Andy was a superb musician and a lovely guy.”