Geoff Nicholls, Black Sabbath Keyboardist, Dies at 68

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Geoff Nicholls, Tony Iommi, Dave Spitz, Eric Singer and Glenn Hughes of Black Sabbath photographed in 1985.

Nicholls joined Black Sabbath following the firing of Ozzy Osbourne in 1979.

Geoff Nicholls, Black Sabbath’s longtime keyboardist, died Saturday following a battle with lung cancer. He was 68.

Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi confirmed the news on Facebook.

"I'm so saddened to hear the loss of one of my dearest and closest friends Geoff Nicholls," Iommi wrote on Facebook on Saturday. "Geoff and I have always been very close and he has been a real true friend to me and supported me all the way for nearly 40 years. I will miss him dearly and he will live in my heart until we meet again. Rest in peace my dear friend."

Nicholls joined Black Sabbath following the firing of Ozzy Osbourne in 1979. The keyboardist first appeared on the legendary heavy metal band’s 1980 album, Heaven and Hell. Five years later he was named an official member of the group, but left in 1996 after Osbourne returned.

Nicholls appeared on nine Black Sabbath studio albums and was a regular touring member of the band. Prior to joining Sabbath, he played with metal band Quartz, whose self-titled debut was produced by Iommi.

Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler also shared his condolences on Facebook. "Very sad to hear of old friend and Sabbath keyboard player Geoff Nicholls passing. RIP Geoff," Butler wrote.      

This story first appeared on Billboard.com. 

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