Jamiroquai keyboardist and founding member Toby Smith has died at just 46 years of age.
He may not have been a household name, but without Smith, smash hits like ‘Cosmic Girl’, ‘Space Cowboy’, ‘Virtual Insanity’ would never have existed.
Frontman Jay Kay has posted a heartbreaking tribute on social media to his OG bandmate, who played with the acid jazz funketeers through their their first five studio albums before departing in 2002 due to “family commitments”.
In the post, Jay reveals that his “dear friend” had been fighting a “voracious illness” for “a very long time”.
“Until fairly recently, [he] 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,” he writes.
News of Smith’s deaths comes just weeks after the release of the band’s first new LP in seven years, Automation. But Jay says “the recent success of the new album has paled into complete and utter insignificance to me on hearing this terrible news”.
“…He has been a huge part of my life. Without him, there would be no JAMIROQUAI.”
RIP to another legend.
Read Jay’s full statement below and maybe keep a couple of Kleenex handy 🙁
3.45 am Good Friday
Yesterday, I found out the news I was hoping, and truly believed, would never happen, that my dear friend Toby, had passed away. My heart hangs so heavy with grief and pain, that I have found it difficult to write anything about this up to now. The recent success of the new album has paled into complete and utter insignificance to me on hearing this terrible news.
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.
But it has also taken him away from the millions of people who have enjoyed his music, the music I had the privilege of writing with him, the music that has brought joy and happiness to people’s hearts across the whole planet for so long, and the music that leaves an indelible and everlasting legacy for all of us. This is my only solace at this most heartbreaking moment.
I have so much to say about the man but I will try to keep it brief for now. 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 me 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.
And so I want you all to remember him this way, because all you have to do is put his music on, wherever you are, whatever your mood, and let his amazing alchemy of chord structure, his mastery of timing, and his effortless and eloquent solos, get under your skin, right into your soul, and make you smile at the world, not matter how bad it seems.
He has been a huge part of my life. Without him, there would be no JAMIROQUAI, and as I write this, the moon is clear and bright in the sky, and I think of him how it should be, riding his mighty horse across it, leaving a trail of stars behind him.
I will miss you so much Tobesman. I will always be so proud of you. Ride the wind buddy, nothing can stop you now.
Your mate, Jx