Geoff Nicholls, who played keyboard for Black Sabbath for over two decades, died on Saturday. He was 68. As Rolling Stone reported, his friend and Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi confirmed the news with a Facebook post. “I’m so saddened to hear the loss of one of my dearest and closest friends Geoff Nicholls,” Iommi wrote. “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.”
Nicholls started playing with the legendary heavy-metal band in 1979, after singer Ozzy Osbourne was fired for his hard-partying ways. However, despite appearing on 1980’s Heaven and Hell, Mob Rules (1981), and Born Again (1983), Nicholls did not become an official member until 1985. He would remain with the band, performing on world tours and nine studio albums through 1996, when Osbourne returned. He completely left the band in 2004. Before joining Sabbath, Nicholls spent five years with British metal band Quartz, whose self-titled debut was produced by Iommi. Nicholls, along with three of the original Quartz members, reformed the band in 2011.
Nicholls reportedly died after a battle with lung cancer.