(Reuters) - Former Iron Maiden drummer Clive Burr, who played on the British heavy metal band's landmark first three albums, has died at the age of 56, the group said on Wednesday.
Burr, who had been suffering from multiple sclerosis, died "peacefully in his sleep at home" in London on Tuesday and had been in poor health for several years, the band said in a statement posted on their website.
"He was a wonderful person and an amazing drummer who made a valuable contribution to Maiden in the early days when we were starting out," Iron Maiden founder and bassist Steve Harris said in a statement.
"This is a sad day for everyone in the band and those around him and our thoughts and condolences are with his partner Mimi and family at this time," Harris said.
London-born Burr joined the band in 1979 and played on their self-titled 1980 debut album and its 1981 follow-up "Killers." His third and final album with the group was 1982's "The Number of the Beast," which topped the UK album chart.
Rolling Stone magazine called his drumming a "major ingredient" to the band's sound, which was noted for bringing the speed of punk rock to the heavy metal genre.
Burr left the band in 1982, a year before Iron Maiden began a string of big-selling albums in the United States that turned the group into an international act.
(Reporting by Eric Kelsey in Los Angeles; Editing by Eric Walsh)