Toby Smith, Jamiroquai Keyboardist, Dies
Toby Smith, who served as Jamiroquai's keyboardist from its 1992 founding until 2002, has died at the age of 46. The cause of death is unknown.
Bassist Stuart Zender, who was in the group with Smith, wrote on Instagram, "I love you so much. My big brother Toby crossed over to the other side last night. All my fondest memories are of him and the band that we created. The most talented musician I have ever had the honor to make music with. There will never be another like you Toby. Your light will shine on eternally. Thank you for making mine and everyone's life so bright. I celebrate your love and life! Rest in Love. Your bald brother Stu x."
Born Oct. 29, 1970 in London, Smith founded the group with Zender, singer Jay Kay, drummer Nick Van Gelder and Wallis Buchanan on didgeridoo. Their debut, Emergency on Planet Earth, arrived in 1993, as Britain's acid jazz movement -- a modern take on the jazz and funk grooves of the late '60s and '70s -- was finding an international audience.
Thanks to Kay's Stevie Wonder-esque vocals and Smith's vintage keyboard sounds -- the two co-wrote many of the band's songs -- the group were an instant smash in the U.K. and found the upper reaches of the U.S. Dance chart. But it wasn't until their third record, 1996's Travelling Without Moving, that they broke into the U.S. mainstream on the strength of the single "Virtual Insanity," whose video was nominated for 10 MTV Video Music Awards, winning four, including Best Video.
Jamiroquai continued to have success, topping the British chart with their next two albums, 1999's Synkronized and 2001's A Funk Odyssey, but Smith left in 2002, citing family commitments. Fan site Funkin says that he built a studio in his home, made cider, collected vintage cars and rode horses. NME added that, in later years, he worked with the Hoosiers and Matt Cardle.
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