Cliff Fish, chart-topping Paper Lace bassist, dies aged 73

Cliff Fish, the bass guitarist and singer for pop and rock group Paper Lace, has died aged 73 his family have announced.

The music star had two major successes with the group in the early 1970s after they released a couple of big hits that both reached the top tier of the charts internationally.

Billy Don’t Be a Hero and The Night Chicago Died reached number one and number three in the charts respectively for Fish with Paper Lace in the UK, as well as performing in other countries.

His family shared the news on Sunday (April 16), revealing that Fish had lost his battle with cancer and died on Friday afternoon.

‘We just wanted to share the sad news that Cliff passed away on Friday afternoon after losing his battle with cancer,’ Fish’s wife Elaine shared in a statement to The Sun.

‘The last two years have been very difficult but Cliff faced the challenges of cancer with bravery, courage and lived his life to the fullest he possibly could right to the end.

‘Everyone that knows Cliff will already know what a kind, caring, fun loving, wonderful, genuine person he was and what a pleasure it was to spend time in his company.’

It continued: ‘Not only a talented musician and performer, he made a success from anything he turned his hand to in life and was a devoted Husband, Father and Grandfather throughout.

‘Cliff will never be forgotten and he will never stop being unconditionally loved by his family and friends.

‘Rest in peace Cliff. X’

Fish, who is also survived by his sons Rob and John, achieved success with bandmates Phil Wright and Carlo Paul Santanna before the Nottingham-grown band went on to further acclaim in the United States.

Wright was one of the first to pay tribute to Fish in the wake of the news, writing: ‘It is with great unbelievable sadness and the heaviest of hearts that I mourn the passing today of this lovely guy.

‘I have known him since 1967 when I joined the band which eventually became Paper Lace.

‘My heart goes out to the family I have come to know and love, Elaine his wife and his two sons Jon and Rob.

‘The world will be a darker place from now on, Cliff you will be missed by me and all the people who knew you.’

During their heyday, the Black-Eyed Boys rockers released albums First Edition as well as And Other Bits of Material / Paper Lace.

Paper Lace had various line-ups across the years, but Fish was a founding member alongside Wright in 1967.

Mick Vaughan was also a member of the group on lead and rhythm guitar, with Chris Morris on guitar and vocals during their hit-making period throughout 1974.

Carlo Santanna joined Paper Lace as a fifth band member later that year, while Chris Raynor – previously guitar player for Billy Fury – joined in 1978.

The band came to an end in 1980, but Morris and Raynor reformed the group in 1983 with a new line-up without Fish or Wright, which Santanna eventually joined again in 2011.

Until recently, Fish was performing alongside Wright, Phil Hendriks on guitar and vocals and Dave Major on keyboard and vocals in a group billed as Phil Wright’s Original 1970s Paper Lace.

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