Pat Torpey, the Mr Big drummer who had a worldwide hit with the American band's ballad To Be with You, has died after a battle with Parkinson's disease. He was 64.
Announcing Torpey's passing, the band said in a statement: "With breaking hearts we tell you that our brother, friend, drummer and founding member, Pat, passed away Wednesday, February 7 from complications of Parkinson's disease."
With breaking hearts we tell you that our brother, friend, drummer and founding member, Pat, passed away Wednesday, February 7 from complications of Parkinson’s disease. Family, band and management request privacy at this very difficult time. Services are pending. pic.twitter.com/SQNpCW9LXw— Mr Big (@mrbigmusic) February 9, 2018
Mr Big bassist Billy Sheehan wrote on his own website: "Pat Torpey has been my closest friend in music for over thirty years."
"Pat was one of the finest human beings I've ever had the privilege of knowing, and the honour of working with," Sheehan continued.
"All of us in Mr Big had nothing but the highest respect and admiration for him. He is loved by anyone and everyone who ever met him. And surely one of the finest rock drummers the world has ever known."
"Please keep his sweet wife and wonderful son in your prayers," Sheehan asked.
The band's frontman, Eric Martin, described Torpey as "the strongest, kindest and sweetest man that I have ever known".
In a career spanning over 35 years, Torpey also drummed for Tina Turner, Robert Plant, Belinda Carlisle and The Knack.
Together with Sheehan, Martin and guitarist Paul Gilbert he formed Mr Big in 1988, with the band releasing their eponymous debut album the following year.
Their biggest-selling album, 1991's Lean Into It, showcased their tender ballad To Be with You. The single was a number one hit in the US in 1992, reaching the number two spot in Ireland and number three in the UK.
Torpey shared his Parkinson's diagnosis in 2014, telling fans: "I've been dealing with Parkinson's symptoms for the past couple of years and only recently received a confirmed diagnosis as symptoms worsened.
"I intend to fight the disease with the same intensity and tenacity that I drum and live my life by and will continue recording and performing, as always, to the best of my ability."
While Torpey was unable to tour with Mr Big in recent years, he continued to work with the band in the studio, contributing to 2014's The Stories We Could Tell and last year's Defying Gravity.
Torpey is survived by his wife Karen and son Patrick Jr.
His fellow musicians have been paying tribute:
Rest In Peace Pat Torpey :(— Derek Sherinian (@DerekSherinian) February 9, 2018
He will be greatly missed. pic.twitter.com/pvVURi5U3N
A great person, friend and musician with tremendous talent! RIP: Pat Torpey @mrbigmusic— Rod Morgenstein (@RodMorgenstein) February 9, 2018
the drumming world and the music world morns with the passing of @mrbigmusic #PatTorpey .To know him, was to know a sweetheart of a human and one of the most talented drummers of our generation. my heart goes out to his family on this sad sad day. pic.twitter.com/M2XHCW5yYa— Phil Varone (@REALPHILVARONE) February 9, 2018
Just heard the news of @mrbigmusic Pat Torpey passing. So very sad to hear and such an amazing person and drummer. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, band and fans worldwide. We love you Pat and Godspeed dear friend🙏— MichaelSweet Stryper (@michaelhsweet) February 9, 2018
RIP: Pat Torpey @mrbigmusic— kipwinger (@kipwinger) February 9, 2018
A beautiful human and outstanding musician.
It breaks our hearts to learn that we have, once again, lost a treasured member of our family. Rest In Peace,... https://t.co/FdwYRFRRw4— The KnacK (@Knackrophilia) February 9, 2018