Simon Cowe, a founding member and guitarist of the British folk-rock band Lindisfarne, has died. He passed away in Toronto, where he lived for many years, after a long illness, according to the group, which shared the news on its official site.

"It is with great sadness that we have to tell you that our dear friend and colleague Simon Cowe has died," they wrote. "Simon had been ill for some time, and was being cared for in hospital in Toronto, a city he had made his home since the early '90s. At the moment we don't have the words to express how we feel. Our thoughts are with his children Jessie, Dylan, and Bernadette."

Cowe formed Lindisfarne in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1968 with bandmates Alan Hull, Ray Jackson, Rod Clements and Ray Laidlaw. In addition playing guitar, Cowe was also proficient on the mandolin, banjo and keyboards, all of which he played on the band's first three albums.

After a trio of records in the early '70s (including 1971's Fog on the Tyne, which was a huge hit in the U.K.), Cowe, Clements and Laidlaw left the group and formed Jack the Lad, another folk-rock band that played down some of Lindisfarne's proggier elements. By the end of the '70s, the original band reunited, and Cowe ended up recording several more albums with it until 1994, when he moved to Toronto to run a microbrewery.

In 2005, Cowe played a memorial concert for Hull, who died in November of that year, with some of his old bandmates. Jackson led Lindisfarne until earlier this year, when he retired and Clements took over as the only remaining original member of the group.

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