John Rutsey, founding member of the seminal Canadian prog-rock band Rush, has died, his family announced. He was 55.

Rutsey played drums with Rush from 1968 to 1974, as well as on the band's eponymous debut album, but departed soon afterwards, apparently due to a lifelong illness stemming from diabetes.

In an obituary published in the Toronto Star, his family said his May 11 death was caused by "complications from his lifelong affliction with diabetes."

Some news reports said Rutsey died from a heart attack in his sleep.

According to Rush's official biography, Rutsey was supposed to write the lyrics for the band's first album, but grew dissatisfied with his attempts and never completed them. He was replaced by Neil Peart, who remains as the band's drummer and lyricist.

Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson said that Rutsey became a fitness fanatic after leaving the band and continued with have contact with Lifeson until the early 1990s.

Funeral arrangements are being kept private at the family's request.