Following a long battle with serious illness, founding member and guitarist of iconic New Zealand band Mi-Sex has passed away in his sleep at the age of 61.

The co-songwriter on many of the band’s hits, including the bona fide classic ‘Computer Games’ from their 1979 debut album, news of Stanton’s passing was met by tributes from his surviving members of the band, with keyboardist Murray Burns issuing a statement on their behalf and expressing their deep sadness over the loss of a “very, very special friend”.

“It is hard to fathom Kevin is no longer with us,” the band told their fans. “Only last Sunday we chatted, arranging times together in the not too distant future, hoping for a new chapter in our creative partnership.

“Kevin really opened up the door to songwriting for me. He was my teacher in so many ways and gave me the confidence to explore my music and believe in my ideas.

“He brought the dark, dark edge to Mi-Sex that we all loved and were intensely intrigued by.”

Mi-Sex singer and fellow founder Steve Gilpin had sadly passed away in a car-crash in 1992, but the band returned in 2011 to help raise money in the wake of the devastating Christchurch earthquakes, and played on as recently as 2016, although Stanton was too unwell to take part.

He had been suffering from a serious spinal condition named cervical spondylosis, The Music reports, with a fundraiser in 2014 helping with his treatment. Having moved to France in March to await an operation in England, he had returned to Australia several weeks ago to be with his wife Aleta, and children Nyran, Georgia, Miki, Benjamin and Lenore.

“Kevin Stanton. What a songwriter/guitar player and very, very special friend and part of my life. We are going to truly miss him.

The band’s full statement is below.

We have been very saddened by the news of Kevin Stanton’s passing last night. Kevin was just home from a trip to France where he was planning to spend a lot of his upcoming time with friends from London days. A well-deserved destination after years of battling ongoing painful back problems and all of the offshoots that were making his life hellish.

We all really felt for Kevin and his frustration that he had been unable to play with us in Mi-Sex over the past few years. None of us ever really imagined we would be sharing a stage together without Kevin, who was such a dynamic part of Mi-Sex on all levels.

It has never been the same, of course, without Steve, but there was always a faint hope Kev would be there one day, and it seemed suddenly Kevin was turning a corner and anything was possible. We were all so happy for Kevin. It appeared his body had started to make a strong recovery for the better, when he and I spent a fantastic day together very recently.

There was a real glint in his eye and he was so enthused at the idea of traveling Europe, playing much more beloved guitar and, of course, writing new songs.

It is hard to fathom Kevin is no longer with us. Only last Sunday we chatted, arranging times together in the not too distant future, hoping for a new chapter in our creative partnership.

Kevin really opened up the door to songwriting for me. He was my teacher in so many ways and gave me the confidence to explore my music and believe in my ideas.

He brought the dark, dark edge to Mi-Sex that we all loved and were intensely intrigued by.

Kevin Stanton. What a songwriter/guitar player and very, very special friend and part of my life. We are going to truly miss him.

– Murray Burns and Mi-Sex