AceShowbiz - Rockers Uriah Heep have been left stunned by the "totally unexpected" death of former singer John Lawton.
The vocalist passed away on 29 June (21), at the age of 74, but his loss was only made public on Tuesday (06Jul21), when the British band shared the news with fans online.
A statement read, "It is with deep regret that we share the devastating and tragic news of the sudden and totally unexpected passing of John Lawton on 29 June 2021. John will be greatly missed."
"A private funeral service to celebrate John’s life will be held following his wishes. RIP John Lawton."
A cause of death has yet to be released.
The band's co-founder, Mick Box, adds, "The passing of John Lawton... has left me numb. John was a big part of the Heep family... He was one of the good guys."
"On a personal note we had some fantastic times in Heep, and some fantastic times too outside of Heep... I enjoyed the songs we wrote together, and he had an amazing voice that was both powerful, soulful and with a bluesy edge (sic). Rock music has lost one of the great rock voices of all time and his legacy will live on forever."
Lawton fronted the progressive rock group for three years from 1976, when he replaced original lead singer David Byron.
He contributed vocals to Uriah Heep's 1976 album "Firefly", 1977's "Innocent Victim" - which included the hit single "Free", and 1978's "Fallen Angel", as well as featuring on the group's "Live in Europe '79" release.
Lawton would later reunite with his old pals in 1995 for a two-week tour of South Africa and Austria as a stand-in for ailing singer Bernie Shaw.
He was also known for his work with German cult rockers Lucifer's Friend from 1969 until 1976, and again in 1979 until 1995.
His earlier bands included The Deans, West One, and Stonewall, while he was part of Les Humphries Singers and Rebel, and formed the Hensley Lawton Band with former Heep keyboardist Ken Hensley in 2001.