Andy Fletcher, keyboardist and founding member of Depeche Mode, has died aged 60.
The musician, nicknamed “Fletch”, founded the band in Basildon, Essex, in 1980.
Depeche Mode have sold more than 100 million records worldwide, and have had international chart success with songs including Personal Jesus and Just Can’t Get Enough.
Fletcher’s bandmates shared news of his death on Twitter on Thursday night and wrote: “We are shocked and filled with overwhelming sadness with the untimely passing of our dear friend, family member and bandmate.
“Fletch had a true heart of gold and was always there when you needed support, a lively conversation, a good laugh, or a cold pint.
“Our hearts are with his family, and we ask that you keep them in your thoughts and respect their privacy in this difficult time.”
Fletcher’s cause of death has not yet been reported.
He was born in Nottingham and moved to Basildon as a young boy, where he formed the band that would become known as Depeche Mode with Martin Gore and Vince Clarke.
While Clarke left in the early 1980s, Fletcher stayed with the group throughout its four-decade history, from its debut album Speak and Spell to 2017’s Spirit.
During this period, two of its albums reached number one in the charts – Songs of Faith and Devotion in 1993 and Ultra in 1997.
Depeche Mode was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame two years ago.
Lol Tolhurst, drummer with The Cure, has shared a heartfelt tribute to Fletcher after news of his death.
He tweeted: “Very sad news today. Andy Fletcher of Depeche Mode has passed.
“I knew Andy and considered him a friend. We crossed many of the same pathways as younger men.
“My heart goes out to his family, bandmates, and DM fans. RIP Fletch.”
Carol Decker, lead singer for the band T’Pau, described Fletcher as “a lovely guy”, adding: “Sending all my love to his family friends and band members.”
Industrial metal supergroup Calling All Astronauts tweeted: “Omg! Fletch has died, Andy was a really nice bloke, I used to go to his restaurant Gascogne off Abby Road, he was always really friendly.
“And of course Depeche Mode have been an inspiration to so many of us RIP.”
Fletcher leaves behind a wife, Grainne, to whom he was married for almost 30 years, and two children, Megan and Joe.