Jet Harris, the original bass player with The Shadows, has died of cancer aged 71.
The guitarist, who played on number one hits including Apache, died at his partner's home in Winchester, his agent Peter Stockton said.
Sir Cliff Richard paid tribute to his former bandmate, saying: "Jet was exactly what The Shadows and I needed - a backbone holding our sound together."
Earlier this month, Harris cancelled all his appearances due to ill health.
"Jet, the bass player, will always be an integral part of British rock 'n' roll history," Sir Cliff added. "Losing him is sad - but the great memories will stay with me. Rock on, Jet."
Mr Stockton said: "He was a man who was so courageous and determined and kept saying 'I will beat this'.
"The last time he went on stage he said he didn't want to let people down and I could see he was struggling a bit, but he got a standing ovation. Regrettably it was the last concert he did on 5 February."
Born Terence Harris in London, the guitarist got his biggest break in 1958 when he was on tour with the Most Brothers.
On the same bill as Cliff Richard and the Drifters, he later joined the group permanently and made his recording debut on Sir Cliff's third single Livin' Lovin' Doll.
In 1959, Harris was credited with coming up with the group's new name, The Shadows, and they went on to have a string of hits including Man of Mystery, The Savage and Wonderful Land.
In 1962, he left the band and had two top 30 solo hits with Besame Mucho and The Man With The Golden Arm.
He also formed a duo with ex-Shadows drummer Tony Meehan, producing the number one hit Diamonds in 1963 and scoring top five songs with Scarlett O'Hara and Applejack.
After a quiet period, Harris began touring again in the late 1970s and continued to tour intermittently around Europe for the subsequent 20 years.
In 1998 he was awarded a Fender Lifetime Achievement Award for his role in popularising the bass guitar in Britain.
He released a new album, The Journey, in 2007, and continued to tour the UK with Shadows tribute band The Rapiers.
He was made an MBE for services to Music in the 2010 New Year's Honours list. He is survived by his partner, Janet Hemingway.
A family friend speaking on her behalf said: "Jet was a one-off. He had a wonderful sense of humour and was incredibly courageous and incredibly loyal to his friends and family."