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Toby Smith, Founding Member Of Jamiroquai, Dead At 46

Toby Smith, keyboardist and founding member of the British funk band Jamiroquai, has died at the age of 46.

Smith passed away April 11, after a long battle with an undisclosed illness, according to TMZ. 

"Toby had fought this voracious illness with his own indefatigable and stubborn brand of spirit and courage for a very long time, and until fairly recently, had shown all the signs of beating it, only for it to take him away so cruelly from his wife, his children, his relations and his many friends," the band wrote on its Facebook page April 14.

Smith founded the funk and acid jazz band in 1992 along with bassist Stuart Zender, drummer Nick Van Gelder, didgeridoo player Wallis Buchanan and lead singer Jay Kay, Billboard reports. Smith stayed on with the band for a decade, co-writing and recording many of its best hits, including "Virtual Insanity," "Space Cowboy" and "Deeper Underground."

He eventually left the band in 2002 to spend more time with his family, although he didn't leave the music scene altogether. He produced and managed the band The Hoosiers and wrote songs for "X Factor" winner Matt Cardle's third album in 2013. In his spare time, he would work on classic cars and hand make cider with his friends.  

Zender announced the news on April 12 over social media, saying that Smith was "the most talented musician I have ever had the honor to make music with."

In a long tribute over the band's Facebook, Kay wrote about his relationship to Smith:

I have so much to say about the man but I will try to keep it brief for now. I want to remember Toby as the guy who struck me with his magic the first time I heard him play in my small bedsit in 1992, the guy who made laugh and cry in equal measure as we wrote the songs you all sing, the guy who would entertain us all on our most arduous tours with his obtuse sense of humor, and the guy who would crack me up with his quirky sense of style and his unique and candid views on people, life and love.

He ends the post saying "there would be no Jamiroquai" without Smith.

"I will miss you so much Tobesman," he writes. "I will always be so proud of you. Ride the wind buddy, nothing can stop you now."

Sources: Billboard, Jamiroquai/Facebook, TMZ / Photo credit: Jamiroquai/Facebook

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