Harvey James, former guitarist with chart-topping Australian '70s pop group Sherbet, has lost his battle with lung cancer less than a month before a benefit concert was to be held in his honor.

The 58-year-old James passed away in Melbourne on Saturday night.

James played in several Australian bands including Ariel and Mississippi, but he got his big break in early 1976 when he joined Sherbet, filling the void left by the departure of Clive Shakespeare.

The group enjoyed a string of hits, none bigger than "Howzat" which topped the Australian singles chart that year and peaked at No. 4 in the U.K.

James played, sang and co-wrote on the albums "Howzat," "Photoplay," and "Sherbet" (titled "Highway" in the U.S.) and was with the group when it disbanded in 1979. When the band made a subsequent return as the Sherbs, James was on board and he played his part on the albums "The Skill" and "Defying Gravity."

In 1990, Sherbet was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in just the third year of the annual celebration.

James would reunite with his band members on several occasions down the years. There was the "Tonight Will Last Forever" farewell tour in 1984, and the "Gimme Ted" benefit for the late Ted Mulry in 2001. More recently, he teamed with the group for the 2006 Countdown Spectacular tour.

After James was diagnosed with cancer last July, the members of Sherbet joined forces to organize and play a benefit concert, with a line-up featuring such veteran local artists as Richard Clapton, Renee Geyer, Dragon and Ian Moss. Entitled "Gimme That Guitar," the Feb. 17 show at Sydney's Factory Theatre was sold-out.

"Rest in peace Harvey James," former Sherbet frontman Daryl Braithwaite wrote today on his Website, "you will be sadly missed by everyone that saw you play and knew you."

James is survived by his wife Fay, sons Gabriel and Joshua and daughter Alexandra.