Illness forces the keyboard player to part company with the group...

SUEDE keyboardist NEIL CODLING has quit the band just as they were about to record their new album, NME.COM can exclusively reveal.

The keyboard player is officially retiring from the music business after a long-running struggle with chronic fatigue syndrome. His replacement will be Alex Lee, formerly of Strangelove, who deputised for Codling in 1999 when he fell ill and pulled out of the band’s European dates.

Codling’s last performance with Suede was in Iceland in October last year, when he appeared to be in good health. But a spokesman told NME.COM that Codling suffered a relapse and decided to make a clean break from the band.

A Suede spokesman told NME.COM: “Neil is suffering from exhaustion and he has been feeling worse recently. He is going to rest until he feels better.”

Lee has already co-written several tracks for the new album since becoming the unofficial sixth member of Suede in 1999. He has performed on a number of demos and two of the songs he co-wrote were played in Iceland.

The spokesman added: “Neil’s departure might have delayed them a few weeks but they are ready to go in the studio and record the album. He has the full support of everyone in the Suede camp.”

Codling was also working on the soundtrack to the forthcoming film ‘Far From China’. The band’s spokesperson added that any future work on the project would not be completed at this stage.

Recording of Suede‘s fifth album is due to start on May 1 with Beck collaborator Tony Hoffer confirmed as producer. The first single is expected in the autumn.