The Memphis, Tennessee-born rocker played on the group's biggest albums, including the self-titled debut in 1978.

News of his passing came via a statement from the band, which reads: "Condolences are sent from the entire Molly Hatchet organisation to the family of Bruce Crump. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this time. God Bless."

Crump was the band's original drummer. He quit in 1982 and returned two years later (84). He left the band for good in 1990.

He was also a member of rockers China Sky and is featured on the band's new comeback album China Sky II.

A statement from the group reads: "This sudden tragedy is like a kick to the gut. We could not have lost a more truly decent human being than Bruce. Our hearts go out to his wife Kristen, his mom, children, and family.

"Not only was Bruce a genuinely nice person, but his talent was even bigger than his heart. When he agreed to join us in China Sky, we were humbled that 'the' Bruce Crump deemed us worthy of his time and talent, and boy, were we ever better off for it. We could not be more proud of the work he did on China Sky II and we are forever grateful to him."