Musician Bruce Gaston dies aged 74

Bruce Gaston on the day he received the prestigious Silpathorn Award by the Culture Ministry in August 2009. (Bangkok Post file photo)

US musician Bruce Gaston, who co-founded Fong Nam, the band that blended Thai and western music, has died. He was 74.

The musician had battled multiple diseases, including liver cancer, before his death was announced on Sunday.

The bathing rite for him will be held at Wat Thatthong at 4pm.

Gaston, who could play piano and Thai musical instruments, was born in Los Angeles on March 11, 1947 but lived in Thailand since 1969.

He joined late Thai xylophonist Boonyong Ketkong and Jirapan Ansvananda to form Fong Nam, meaning bubbles, in 1979. The ensemble opened up a new horizon for Thai traditional music by blending it with western musical culture, gaining a new audience among music enthusiasts worldwide.

The Los Angeles Times in 1989 said the band "puts Thai and Western music through a metamorphosis''.

Gaston's dedication to Thai music and culture earned him the Silpathorn Award from the Culture Ministry in 2009. He was the first non-Thai artist to receive the prestigious award.

Jirapan posted a message on his Facebook page on Monday around 10.30am, saying: "I would like to offer my condolences for Acharn Bruce Gaston, who passed away one hour ago."

Gaston was survived by his wife, Sarapee, and son Theodore, who is the guitarist of the rock band Flure.

His death was the third loss of musicians in three days after mor lum legend Pornsak Songsaeng and singer Ord Keereboon.

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