Robbie France, a respected drummer and music teacher best known for his stint with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal group Diamond Head, died on Saturday (Jan. 14), reports. He was 53 years old.

While few details have emerged, Diamond Head confirmed the sad news with a post on their Facebook page. Born in Sheffield, England, in 1959, France joined the group in 1983 and played on that year's 'Canterbury' album. His brief stint ended in 1985, when the band underwent its first breakup. (They reformed in 1991 and again the following decade.)

Before joining up with Diamond Head, France had already made a name in Australia, where he's said to have moved to around 1970. By 15, he had taught at the Australian Academy of Music, and he went on to form the jazz-fusion outfit Carnival, according to a biography on the website of Wishbone Ash, the long-running English hard-rock group he played with in 1990.

Throughout his long career, France also played with the metal group UFO, the pop act Ellis, Beggs & Howard, the German synth-poppers Alphaville and the British alt-rock foursome Skunk Anansie, among others.

So far, more than 300 fans have commented on Diamond Head's Facebook post, and their tributes speak to the respect France commanded around the world.

"R.I.P. from Poland - you inspired Metallica!" one fan wrote. "And inspired Lars to do such fills! Rest In Peace."

Watch a Robbie France Drum Tutorial

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