Riot guitarist Mark Reale passed away Wednesday (Jan. 25) at the age of 57 after being hospitalized for severe complications from his longtime battle with Crohn’s disease. Reale had suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage and was in a coma for the past two weeks.

In a statement, the band said, “To friends and fans of Mark Reale and RIOT, we are deeply saddened to confirm that Mark has lost his battle with a lifelong illness. Your thoughts and prayers are appreciated by Mark’s family, friends, and bandmates at this difficult time.”

Reale was a founding member of Riot and the band’s principal songwriter. He was the only original member of the band that consistently remained in the group since forming Riot in 1975. Despite his illness, Reale was still an official member of the group at the time of his death.

Riot have released 14 studio albums, including their most recent effort, ‘Immortal Soul,’ which came out on Oct. 31, 2011.

While Reale was hospitalized, the remaining band members decided to honor their scheduled gigs, and Riot is currently taking part in the 70,000 Tons of Metal Cruise after playing two shows in New York last week.

During their heyday, Riot toured with AC/DC, Kiss and Black Sabbath, among other well-known groups.

Rest in peace, Mark Reale. The metal world is sad to lose one of its pioneering musicians. A heartfelt eulogy has been posted on Reale’s official website.