Mel Galley

Whitesnake.com

Mel Galley, the former guitarist and backing vocalist for White Snake in its early-'80s incarnation, has died at the age of 60, the band confirmed on its website.

Galley passed away on Tuesday at his home in Staffordshire, England, after battling cancer of the esophagus, according to British media reports.

Frontman David Coverdale told the BBC that he "treasures the memory of knowing [Galley] and working together with him."

Galley played for the hard-charging, Led Zeppelin-influenced group from 1982 to 1984, joining shortly after the band recorded Saints and Sinners, which made the U.K. top 10 and contained the eventual megahit "Here I Go Again."

The band rerecorded that signature song for 1987's self-titled LP, which became Whitesnake's breakthrough in the U.S.

But by then Galley had already left the group after sustaining an injury to his arm followed by a bungled operation that caused nerve damage. After major rehabilitation, he was able to pick up the guitar again for such bands as Phenomena and MGM, the latter reuniting him with former 'Snakers Bernie Marsden and Neil Murray.

On Feb. 7, Galley posted a message on his MySpace blog announcing he had terminal cancer and expressing his love for his wife and two sons.

"I have enjoyed a great life," he wrote, "traveled the world having some amazing experiences, met all sorts of people and played with some of the best musicians there are."

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