Ralph Morman, the singer best known for his work as a frontman for the Joe Perry Project and Savoy Brown, has died at the age of 65 following what reports are describing as a long illness.

Morman had a history with the Aerosmith crowd before joining up with Perry, singing for the Jack Douglas-produced band Bux in the early '70s before moving to Florida and getting a job in construction. Meeting up with Perry backstage at a local Aerosmith show in 1979, he offhandedly asked him to keep an eye out for singing opportunities, and ended up backing into a major gig in the process.

"Before I left, I told Joe, ‘I’ve been doing construction work for about a year. If you run into a band that’s ready to record, give me a call,'" Morman told the Ashland Daily Independent. "About three weeks later Joe called and said, ‘I found a band for you.’ I asked, 'What kind of stuff do they do?' He said, ‘Kind of Aerosmith stuff.’ I asked, ‘Do I know any of them?’ He said, ‘Me,’ and explained there had been a huge fight and he had quit Aerosmith. I said, ‘Have you lost your mind?'"

Morman's tenure with the Project was brief and bumpy, but early on, Perry heaped lavish praise on his new singer, comparing him favorably to Steven Tyler. Defending his decision to keep Aerosmith songs in the Joe Perry Project live set list, he argued, "Those songs are my songs. I wrote the music. Those are some of my favorite riffs, and Ralph sings them better. I get off on it because this band plays them better than I've heard those songs played in a long while."

Following his stint with Perry, Morman recorded a pair of albums with Savoy Brown in the early '80s before walking away from the business in the middle of the decade. "I just got fed up with the whole L.A. scene and decided to go home ... come back to Kentucky," he recalled later, explaining that after meeting his wife, he moved to Florida to help manage condominiums. "There was a karaoke bar within walking distance, so karaoke was the only music I did for years. I just kind of went underground in ’87."

In more recent years, Morman returned to music, gigging and recording with local bands after stockpiling new material during a period in which he took care of his ailing father and wife. "I just sat around, listened to music and wrote lyrics. I said when my wife gets better I’m going to get back into it while I can," he explained. "I’ve got so many songs laying around ... I can’t let them lay around like that." True to his word, Morman eventually set up a MySpace page advertising his services, telling visitors, "I'm still singing, doing studio work and writing tons of music and lyrics."

Bassist Corky Holbrook worked with Morman during his final sessions, and told the Ashland Daily Independent that he intends to finish mastering the new song 'Killing Time on Planet Earth' and release it as a tribute. "He was royalty," said Holbrook. "He was the guy who went that extra step or two and made it beyond."

Morman is survived by his wife Debbie, their five children and five grandchildren.