Peppi Marchello, lead singer of the Good Rats, died on Wednesday, July 10 from a heart attack, just weeks after having open heart surgery. He was 68.

The news of Marchello's passing was broken via Facebook by his wife, Melanie Landau Kerwin. "Today Rock N Roll lost one of its greatest singer songwriters of all time. Unfortunately I have the most unbearable news to let all of Peppi Marchello's fans, family and friends know that he passed away."

The Good Rats formed in Long Island in 1964 and were originally known as the U-Men. After their first singer was drafted to fight in Vietnam, Marchello took over the role. The band released their self-titled debut LP in 1969. It featured a raw and raucous take on the garage band ethic handed down by the British Invasion bands. In later years they would settle into a more straight ahead rock and roll style.

In the early '70s, the Good Rats signed to Warner Brothers Records and found themselves sharing stages with everyone from Bruce Springsteen, Kiss, Rush and the Grateful Dead. Once dubbed "the world's most famous unknown band" by Rolling Stone, the Good Rats were known for the exciting and often wild live shows. They built a cult following with dedicated fans around the world, but were most beloved in their native Tri-state area.

Former Kiss guitarist Bruce Kulick -- a member of the Good Rats from 1980 to 1983 -- remembered Marchello on his website, calling him a man of "powerful voice, songwriting skills, and wild live performance nature." He added, "Let's remember Peppi, with that baseball bat in his hand, leading strong band members throughout the years and entertaining his fans from his heart and soul."

Marchello's publicist Clifford Meth told LongIsland.com, "Peppi's life was about his family and his music. His love for songwriting and performing never diminished and he continued playing as many as 100 times each year until the very end." The band were inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2008.

Listen to 'The Hobo' by the Good Rats