Black Sabbath keyboardist Geoff Nicholls died on Saturday at 68 years of age following a length battle with lung cancer, according to Entertainment Weekly. The group’s guitarist took to Facebook to announce the passing of Nicholls.
“I’m so saddened to hear the loss of one of my dearest and closest friends Geoff Nicholls,” Iommi 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. Rest In Peace my dear friend. Tony.”
Tony is in the midst of a battle on his own as he was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2013. In fact, Iommi revealed previously that he believes his treatment may have unintentionally been a factor in Bill Ward leaving Black Sabbath, according to Mirror.
RIP Geoff Nicholls. He was a great keyboardist. He played on Heaven and Hell, Mob Rules, Live Evil & Dehumanizer pic.twitter.com/vrlQ4jBrow
— Ronnie J Dio Fans (@Dio_Fans) January 29, 2017
“My illness has changed my life a lot and my attitude. When I was going through my treatment, I didn’t think I was going to last, I had stage three lymphoma. I wanted to get things going quick, and Bill wanted to take longer. Bill seemed to feel he was getting a bad deal. We never dealt with that, we left all that to management.”
“We just wanted to play together and enjoy it. We were playing with Bill for a bit and then he never turned up. I thought, ‘what’s going on?”
Nicholls made his debut with Black Sabbath on the 1980 LP Heaven and Hell, but he didn’t officially become a member of the group until 1986 and he stayed on until 1991. Geoff returned as an official member from 1993-96 before unofficially reuniting with Ozzy Osbourne in 1997. Nicholls played some rhythm guitar on the reunion tours in addition to his duties as the band’s keyboardist.
Ozzy and Black Sabbath bass player Geezer Butler offered their condolences on the passing of Geoff Nicholls as well on Saturday afternoon.
Geoff Nicholls was a great friend of mine for a long time. He will be greatly missed. I’m very saddened at the news.
— Ozzy Osbourne (@OzzyOsbourne) January 28, 2017
Nicholls left Black Sabbath for good during 2004 when Adam Wakeman was chosen to play keyboard during the band’s 2004 and 2005 tours. Scott Warren then tickled the ivories during the 2007 Heaven & Hell tour for Sabbath.
Upon leaving the group, Geoff joined up with former Black Sabbath singer Tony Martin to play keyboard in Tony Martin’s Headless Cross.
Prior to joining Sabbath, Geoff Nicholls played lead guitar for a band called Johnny Neal and the Starliners in the 1960s and early 1970s before joining the group Quartz later on. Quartz’s official Facebook page shared their condolences on Nicholls’ passing as well.
“Everyone in the band, and associated with the band, are struggling to find words to express their feelings and sadness regarding the passing of their dear friend Geoff Nicholls earlier this morning at home. Geoff had been unwell for a long time battling cancer and had under gone extensive radio and chemotherapy plus other trial treatment but sadly to no avail in the end.”
“In the darkest and lowest moment of time Geoff’s lyrics and music speak volumes to us and for us through these his memory will live on forever. Our deepest sympathies, thoughts, and prayers go out to Gloria and her family as they try to come to terms with their loss. RIP GEOFF xxx”
[Featured Image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]