Paul Raven, bass player with influential British post punk group Killing Joke, died in his sleep during the early hours of Saturday morning, at the age of just 46. He was in Geneva, Switzerland, where he had been recording.

Born Jan. 16, 1961 in Wolverhampton, England, Raven earned his stripes in local punk band the Neon Hearts, with whom he recorded one 1979 album, and then Kitsch, which he formed with Tyla, later of Dogs D'Amour.

Raven joined Killing Joke in 1982, replacing original bassist Youth, and made his debut with the band on the 1983 single "Birds of a Feather" and fourth album "Fire Dances" (EG), which made the U.K. Top 30.

The 1985 follow-up "Night Time" (1985) was the band's biggest commercial success, reaching no. 11 in the U.K. album chart and produced an unlikely hit single in the shape of "Love Like Blood."

Raven was fired from the band in 1987, but rejoined two years later. That line-up of Killing Joke folded in 1991, but Raven appeared in a new version of the band in 2003. He also played with Prong, Murder Inc., Pigface and Godflesh, in addition to touring with Ministry in 2006 and working on that band's albums "Rio Grande Blood (2006) and "The Last Sucker" (2007).

Killing Joke has been cited as an influence by numerous alternative rock acts, including Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, Metallica, Jane's Addiction, Soundgarden and Faith No More.

Foo Fighters' frontman Dave Grohl, a self-confessed Killing Joke fan, brought Killing Joke to a new legion of fans when he played drums on the band's self-titled 2003 album, released through Zuma Recordings.

Killing Joke frontman Jaz Coleman and guitarist Geordie Walker issued a statement through the band's label, Cooking Vinyl. It said:
"We are all deeply stricken with grief at the unannounced departure of possibly the funniest man on planet Earth and a brother to us all: Paul Vincent Raven. Unimaginable sadness is felt by all."

"We are in deep shock and we miss him a great deal. We love him," added Raven's brother, Paul.

A statement on the official web site of Ministry mainman Al Jourgensen's 13th Planet Records said that, at the time of his death, Raven "was working with French recording artists Treponem Pal on their new collaboration with Ted Parsons (ex-Prong/ex-Killing Joke/Jesu) and members of The Young Gods in a small village on the French/Swiss border."

According to the 13th Planet statement, "Initial reports indicate Raven's passing was the result of a heart attack."

Funeral details have yet to be announced.