Founding member and keyboardist of British funk-jazz band Jamiroquai, Toby Smith, died aged 46 on the 12th of April 2017.
It has been announced Smith passed away after fighting a “voracious illness”. He was the original keyboard player and contributed some the band’s most famous songs such as Canned Heat, Deeper Underground and Cosmic Girl which launched Jamiroquai to international stardom.
The news was first reported on Tuesday, but it was officially announced on Good Friday via the band’s official Facebook page where a heartfelt tribute was posted.
Toby Smith was born in London on the 29th of October 1970. He had been a part of Jamiroquai since its inception in 1992 and contributed enormously towards the band’s signature sound. He departed in 2002 to focus on his family.
The band wrote:
“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.”
Lead singer Jay Kay posted an emotional message on Facebook, saying his “heart hangs so heavy with grief and pain”.
“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 humour, 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 wrote.
Bass player Stuart Zender wrote his own tribute on Instagram, calling Toby the most talented musician he has ever worked with.
“I love you so much. My big brother Toby crossed over to the other side last night. All my fondest memories are of him and the band that we created. The most talented musician I have ever had the honor to make music with. There will never be another like you Toby. Your light will shine on eternally. Thank you for making mine and everyone’s life so bright.”
Jamiroquai recently launched a comeback and released their eighth studio album, Automation, in March.