THE world of rock music was last night mourning the loss of guitar legend Gary Moore after he died in a hotel in the Costa del Sol.
The former Thin Lizzy member was discovered in his bed at the luxury Kempinski Resort Hotel in Estepona in the early hours of this morning.
A post-mortem examination was expected to be carried out late tonight in the nearby city of Malaga. The cause of death is unknown but he is believed to have died in his sleep.
Moore, 58, from Belfast, was believed to have been on holiday. Undertakers were called to his room at the hotel around 4am.
A spokesman for Britain’s Foreign Office said: ‘We are aware of the death of a British national in Estepona. We stand ready to offer consular assistance.’
His death was confirmed on Facebook by friend and promoter, Smiley Bolger. At around 4.30pm, he wrote: ‘Just had a phone call to inform us all that Gary Moore passed away in a hotel room in Spain some hours ago.’
The message prompted a flood of comments about the musician, including one from BP Fallon, who simply wrote: ‘Very sad.’
Members of Thin Lizzy last night issued the following statement: ‘It is with great sadness we hear of the passing of Gary Moore.
‘Our thoughts go out to Gary’s family at this time and our memories of Gary and his contribution to Thin Lizzy and music in general will live on forever.’
The band’s drummer Brian Downey added: ‘I am in total shock. I have known Gary since 1967 when he was in Platform Three and he’s been an amazing friend ever since.
‘It was a pleasure to play with Gary again in 2006 after his days with Lizzy. He will always be in my thoughts and prayers and I just can’t believe he is gone.’
Band guitarist Scott Gorham said: ‘Playing with Gary during the Black Rose era was a great experience, he was a great player and a great guy. I will miss him.’
RTÉ 2fm DJ Dave Fanning said: ‘This is the sad passing of a truly great Irish musical legend. Granted he didn’t wear an Irish badge on his chest.
‘But while the English can think of Eric Clapton as their homegrown blues man, Gary was ours. To him, it was all about the blues and there was so much more to him than just Thin Lizzy. This is terrible news.’
A source at the hotel said Moore had been staying there with a female friend.
‘They had a hamburger and sandwich at the hotel bar, which they washed down with a bottle of champagne,’ said the source.
‘Later they went for a stroll along the beach and when they came back Gary and his friend went back to the bar where Gary had a couple of brandies.
He was recognised by a fan who talked to him about his music and was really chatty and friendly. He seemed fine when he left around 11pm.’
Moore’s friend, a petite blonde in her 30s, looked tired and red-eyed as she made a string of tearful phone calls from the hotel foyer this afternoon.
She declined to make any comment on Gary’s death when approached by a reporter. A guest added: ‘Gary was telling people she played guitar well herself. I got the impression she was his girlfriend.’
Moore started out in the band Skid Row but left Belfast as a teenager for Dublin, where he met Phil Lynott. Although Moore left Thin Lizzy after a brief stint, the two stayed firm friends.
He had a string of top 40 hits in the Seventies and Eighties including Parisienne Walkways in 1979 and Still Got The Blues (For You ) in 1990.