The rock world took another blow yesterday as news spread of the death of UFO and Waysted guitarist Paul ‘Tonka’ Chapman. He was 66 years old. No cause of death has been made public.
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Chapman’s death was made official when his family posted the following statement on his musician’s Facebook page. “It is with a heavy heart writing this, today is my dad's 66th birthday. He passed away earlier this afternoon.
“He was a brilliant, energetic, loving and most carefree person and the first man I ever loved. Everyone he came in contact with loved him – no adored him.
“I will keep everyone posted on his celebration of life. I appreciate everyone's thoughts and prayers as his family grieves and processes everything at this time.”
Chapman was born in Cardiff, England in 1954. He began his career playing with local musicians and joined UFO in 1974. He toured with the band in support of their third album Phenomenon, but he ended up leaving a short time later to form Lone Star with Kenny Driscoll, Tony Smith, Ray Jones, Jim Matthews, Peter Hurley and Dixie Lee.
He stayed with Lone Star through 1976 and 1977 and played on their self titled debut and follow up release Firing on All Six.
After his stint with Lone Star, Chapman rejoined UFO in 1978 and played on their studio albums, No Place to Run, The Wild, The Willing and Innocent, Mechanix and Making Contact.
When UFO called it quits in 1983, Chapman hooked up with Pete Way and his band Waysted. He played on their albums The Good, the Bad the Waysted and Save Your Prayers.
Many musicians are mourning Chapman’s death. UFO released the following statement. "We send our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Paul 'Tonka' Chapman, who died yesterday on his 66th birthday. Paul's son broke the tragic news on Paul's Facebook page yesterday evening. R.I.P. Tonka."
Here is what former Motorhead guitarist Phil Campbell had to say, "Just woke up to sad news of Paul Chapman passing. He was my main influence on guitar for many years and a brilliant bloke. Thoughts are with his family."
Former Motley Crue frontman John Corabi wrote that Chapman was a "lovely gentleman and a great guitar player," adding: "I had the great fortune of meeting him in Philadelphia, and Los Angeles, and he was nothing short of amazing to a young dreamer. 66 is much too young."
Rock broadcaster Eddie Trunk posted a live version of the UFO song Lettin’ Go along with the following message, “Listening to Paul Chapman all night. So many great songs he played on and co-wrote in his era. Such a great player.”
It is sad to see so many legends laid to rest but it is fortunate that they leave behind a legacy of great music. RIP Phil Chapman.