Spiders From Mars Bassist Trevor Bolder Dies

Appeared on David Bowie's "Hunky Dory" and "Ziggy Stardust," among others, then spent decades in Uriah Heep

Longtime Uriah Heep bassist Trevor Bolder, who in the early 1970s backed David Bowie on a string of iconic glam rock albums, beginning with "Hunky Dory," died on Tuesday after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 62.

Bowie paid tribute to his former collaborator. "Trevor was a wonderful musician and a major inspiration for whichever band he was working with. But he was foremostly a tremendous guy, a great man," Bowie says in a message posted on his Website.

In February, Bolder told Classic Rock Magazine that he was recovering from cancer surgery. "I had pancreas cancer so I had to have that removed. Not the entire pancreas – but still, it was bad news," he said. "They’ve cut out the bad bit. I’ve had a bit of chemo, got to have that, which I’m doing now, in case there’s anything hanging about."

Bolder and guitarist Mick Ronson left their band The Rats to join Bowie in 1971 and appeared on that year's "Hunky Dory," "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars" (1972), "Aladdin Sane" (1973) and the covers set "Pin Ups" (1973).

It was at around the time of "Ziggy Stardust" that the backing band, which also included drummer Mick Woodmansey, was dubbed The Spiders from Mars. The group toured heavily with Bowie and was featured in the 1973 concert movie by D.A. Pennebaker "Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars."

The four albums featuring Bolder spawned such hit singles as Bowie's first Billboard Hot 100 entry, 1972's "Changes" (which reached No. 41 in 1975), "Starman" (No. 65) and "The Jean Genie" (No. 71). As with many album rock-oriented acts of the '60s and '70s, some of the best-known songs from those four Bowie albums were either never released as proper singles in the U.S. or simply didn't chart. They include such key cuts as "Life On Mars?," "Oh! You Pretty Things," "Ziggy Stardust," "Suffragette City" and "Panic in Detroit."

In 1976, he joined Mick Box's Uriah Heep, replacing John Wetton, and first appeared on their "Firefly" album a year later. After a short stint in Wishbone Ash in the early 1980s he returned to Uriah Heep in 1983 and remained until his health forced him to step aside.

In a statement released by the band, Box called Bolder a great bassist and a "world-class friend."

"He will be sadly missed by family, friends and rock fans all over the world," he added. "We are all numb to the core."

The band called Bolder "one of the outstanding musicians of his generation, and one of the finest and most influential bass players that Britain ever produced."

Other tributes and condolences have come rolling in, mostly via Twitter, from artists like Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler, Dream Theater's Mike Portnoy and British record producer Stephen Street (Blur, Morrissey), who said Bolder was "Melody and groove all in one [of] the best bass players."

Additional reporting by Keith Caulfield.