The Moody Blues founding member Ray Thomas has died, aged 76

The flautist and singer's death has been confirmed by the band's label

Ray Thomas, a founding member of The Moody Blues, has died, aged 76.

The flautist and singer died at his home in Surrey on Thursday (January 4), the band’s labels, Cherry Red Records and Esoteric Recordings, confirmed.

“We are deeply shocked by his passing and will miss his warmth, humour and kindness,” the labels wrote in a statement. “It was a privilege to have known and worked with him and our thoughts are with his family and his wife Lee at this sad time.”

No cause of death has been given at present. As Billboard reports, Thomas had previously disclosed in 2014 that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Thomas founded the British rock group with Mike Pinder and Denny Laine in 1964, with the first line-up completed by Graeme Edge, and Clint Warwick. Their second album ‘Days Of Future Passed’, released in 1967, was cited as one of the first examples of prog rock, and went to Number Two in the US charts. It also contained one of their biggest hits, ‘Nights In White Satin’.

The musician released two solo albums in the 1970s – ‘From Mighty Oaks’, and ‘Hopes, Wishes And Dreams’. He retired from The Moody Blues in 2002 due to health issues, but continued to make music.

Last year, it was announced members of the Moody Blues, including Thomas, were to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in Cleveland in April 2018. They will be inducted alongside Nina Simone, The Cars, Bon Jovi, and Dire Straits.

Fans have begun to pay tribute to Thomas online. One called him a “songwriting genius and the greatest rock flautist ever”, while another wrote: “The sad loss of the backbone of the Moodies and a vastly underrated, innovative musician.” See those and more tributes below.