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Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy Osbourne has led tributes to his former Black Sabbath bandmate Geoff Nicholls, who has died at the age of 68.

The keyboardist passed away on Saturday (28Jan17) after a long battle with lung cancer.

“Geoff Nicholls was a great friend of mine for a long time,” Osbourne tweeted. “He will be greatly missed. I’m very saddened at the news.”

The rock band’s guitarist Tony Iommi made the announcement on Facebook, expressing his grief at losing a “true friend”.

“I’m so saddened to hear the loss of one of my dearest and closest friends Geoff Nicholls,” he wrote. “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.”

Nicholls joined Black Sabbath after lead singer Ozzy Osbourne was booted out of the band in 1979, and featured on nine studio albums, beginning with the 1980’s Heaven and Hell. He played the keyboard intermittently for several years with the band until he was replaced by Adam Wakeman.

Black Sabbath bass player Geezer Butler also paid tribute to Nicholls on Twitter, writing, “Very sad to hear of old friend and Sabbath keyboard player Geoff Nicholls passing. RIP Geoff.”

Before joining Black Sabbath, Nicholls played with the band Quartz, which issued a touching statement after news broke of his death.

“Everyone in the band, and associated with the band, are struggling to find the words to express their feelings and sadness regarding the passing of their dear friend Geoff Nicholls earlier this morning at home,” it read.

“Geoff had been unwell for a long time battling cancer and had under gone extensive radio and chemotherapy plus other trial treatment but all sadly to no avail in the end. In this darkest and lowest moment of time Geoff’s lyrics and music speak volumes to us and for us and through these his memory will live on forever.”