Black Sabbath Keyboardist Geoff Nicholls Dies

Black Sabbath in 1985. L-R: Geoff Nicholls, Tony Iommi, Dave Spitz, Eric Singer, Glenn Hughes; Chris Walter/WireImageLongtime Black Sabbath keyboardist Geoff Nicholls died from lung cancer Saturday. He was 68.

Nicholls joined Sabbath along with singer Ronnie James Dio after Ozzy Osbourne was fired in 1979, and first played on the 1980 album, Heaven and Hell.  He's also said to have written the bass line for the album's title track, though he was never credited.  He performed with the heavy metal legends for 25 years, from 1980 through 2004, and was intermittently credited as both an official and unofficial member.

Members of Sabbath tweeted condolences, with Ozzy writing, “Geoff Nicholls was a great friend of mine for a long time. He will be greatly missed. I'm very saddened at the news.”

Bassist Geezer Butler tweeted, "Very sad to hear of old friend and Sabbath keyboard player Geoff Nicholls passing. RIP Geoff.”

Tony Iommi tweeted, “I'm so saddened to hear the loss of one of my dearest and closest friends Geoff Nicholls. 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.”

Former drummer Bill Ward tweeted, “My family and I are very sad to learn of Geoff's passing. He was a caring, kind and loving man; a great musician, always supportive and generous with musical input. Our condolences to his family, his friends and fellow band mates. RIP Geoff. Thanks for all you gave us.”

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