Christie Goodwin/RedfernsFounding Status Quo guitarist and singer Rick Parfitt has died at the age of 68. According to a joint statement from his family and the band’s manager, the veteran rocker passed away on Saturday, December 24, in a hospital in Marbella, Spain, from a severe infection that developed as a complication of a shoulder injury he suffered in a previous fall.

At the time of his death, Parfitt had been planning to launch a solo career that was to have included an album and autobiography set for a 2017 release. In June, Rick suffered a heart attack that forced him to retire from touring with Status Quo.

Status Quo frontman and lead guitarist Francis Rossi, who played with Parfitt in the band for nearly 50 years, wrote a heartfelt tribute to Rick that was posted Monday on Status Quo’s official website.

“I was not ready for this,” writers Rossi. “Rick Parfitt had been a part of my story for fifty years. Without doubt the longest relationship of my life: this was also the most satisfying, frustrating, creative and fluid.”

He adds, “Rick was the archetypal rock star, one of the originals, he never lost his joy, his mischievous edge and his penchant for living life at high speed, high volume, high risk…There were any number of incidents along the way, times when he strayed into areas of true danger and yet still losing him now is still a shock.”

Status Quo’s only charting U.S. single on the Billboard Hot 100 was the 1968 psychedelic gem “Pictures of Matchstick Men,” which reached #12, but in the U.K. the band has scored more than 50 top 40 hits, the most recent being in 2010. Status Quo also famously opened the London portion of 1985’s Live Aid charity concert.

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