Tom McGrath aka Willie Eckerslike, the drummer from comedy-folk band The Lancashire Hotpots has died, aged just 37.
The band - a favourite of allgigs writer Paul Pledger - have been entertaining audiences with their mixture of humour and songs about Lancashire and Britain since 2006 and are part-way through a Spring/ Summer UK tour.
In a touching statement, the band (Ant, Sheldon and Graeme) said:
It is with great sadness that we have to announce the passing of our beloved friend and colleague Tom McGrath aka Willie. The sudden death of a friend is never easy to comprehend, when it's someone who has profoundly affected your life since the minute you met him, then it hits you all the harder.
Our thoughts are understandably with his family at this incredibly difficult time. What has been some comfort is the sheer number of friends and colleagues we have met and spoken to today who are just as profoundly shocked and upset as we are. When that happens, I think you know you've done something right during your brief stay on this planet.
Right now, I can picture a scene outside the pearly gates with St Peter being played the theme tune to Bullseye and Postman Pat, and it makes me laugh and cry in equal measure.
Nothing else is pretty much in our thoughts at the moment, nor should it be.
If the man has ever made you laugh, have a drink (or ten) tonight and play some drum and bass at an unfeasibly loud volume, I think it's what he would have wanted.