TORONTO - Fans around the world are expressing their sorrow over the death of drummer John Rutsey, a co-founding member of the seminal rock band Rush.
Rutsey, who left the group after recording their first album in 1974, died last week in Toronto from complications stemming from a lifelong battle with diabetes.
His family announced the death in newspaper notices. He was 55.
Rutsey co-founded Rush with lead singer Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson in 1968, but left the group for health reasons.
He was replaced by drummer and lyricist Neil Peart just before the group's first U.S. tour.
On the Rush website, Lee and Lifeson say they fondly recall their early days with Rutsey and say that he will be deeply missed.
"Those years spent in our teens dreaming of one day doing what we continue to do decades later are special," they state.
"Although our paths diverged many years ago, we smile today, thinking back on those exciting times and remembering John's wonderful sense of humour and impeccable timing."
The family has requested donations be made in Rutsey's memory to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Meanwhile, online condolences poured in from Rush fans around the world, with responses to one newspaper notice including messages from Australia, Germany, the United States, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
"You were the ORIGINAL drummer in the greatest band in the world," writes Douglas Walsh of Metairie, La.
"If not for YOU, who knows what would have happened! Although you may not have known it, you were loved and respected by all Rush fans and the band themselves. God bless ya man! Drum on!"
On The Net: www.jdrf.ca
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