Craig Gill, Inspiral Carpets
Craig Gill, drummer for Inspiral CarpetManchester Music Tours

Craig Gill, the drummer of Manchester band Inspiral Carpets, has died at the age of 44.

Gill was one of the founding members of the band in Oldham in the early 1980s, alongside guitarist Graham Lambert, who tweeted he would "never be forgotten".

A statement on the band's Facebook page said they were "absolutely devastated" by the loss of "our brother".

The group's hits include Saturn 5, This Is How It Feels, She Comes In The Fall, Dragging Me Down and I Want You.

Gill, who formerly DJed at the well-known Manchester club The Hacienda, was also a music historian and ran music-themed tours around Greater Manchester.

BBC News entertainment correspondent, Colin Paterson said the news had come "absolutely out of the blue".

The Inspirals' statement said the band had been "honoured to work alongside him for the last 30 years".

"To say we'll miss him is an understatement," it read.

"He was the beating heart of the Inspirals in more ways than one."

Former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher, whose brother Noel was a roadie for Inspiral Carpets, tweeted that he was "stunned", while Tim Burgess, singer in The Charlatans, wrote he was "loved" seeing the band and the news had left him "so sad".

Shocked fans have flooded the Facebook page with messages of grief and memories of a pop star who never forgot his roots.

One said: "Shocking news, have lived on Craig's street for the past 15 years, such a genuine bloke who would always stop for a chat. RIP Craig. Thoughts are with your family."

Another added: "So sad to hear this news. He always seemed thoroughly decent bloke and made the Mcr Music Tours really fun and interesting he was incredibly knowledgeable and was a great drummer too. Thoughts go out to all the band and his family and friends."

Gill was with the band until their split in 1995 and was part of the subsequent relaunch in 2003.

A new album, Inspiral Carpets was released in 2014, featuring previous singles You're So Good For Me and Spitfire, plus new material.

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