Longtime Black Sabbath keyboardist Geoff Nicholls died Saturday following a long battle with lung cancer. He was 68 years old.
Nicholls joined Black Sabbath in 1979, originally as the band’s second guitarist but then switched to bass following the brief departure of Geezer Butler. When Butler returned to the fold, Nicholls became Black Sabbath’s full-time keyboard player, a role which he continued to fill up until 2004. He appeared on nine of the band’s studio albums, including 1980’s Heaven and Hell, for which he composed the bassline for the album’s classic title track.
In a statement posted to Facebook, Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi wrote, “I’m so saddened to hear the loss of one of my dearest and closest friends Geoff Nicholls. He’s been suffering for a while now with lung cancer and he lost his battle this morning. Geoff and I have always been very close and he has been a real true friend to me and supported me all the way for nearly 40 years. I will miss him dearly and he will live in my heart until we meet again.”