American rap star Biz Markie has passed away following a series of complications caused by diabetes.
The Just A Friend star was aged 57 when he passed away on Friday night, with his heartbroken wife, Tara Hall, confirming the sad news, after comforting him as he died in hospital in Baltimore.
Biz – whose real name was Marcel Theo Hall – had been battling health issues caused by Type 2 diabetes for the past year.
Representatives of the star have been touched by the outpouring of grief for the musician – who enjoyed chart success in the USA in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
TMZ broke the news of Biz’s death on Friday, reporting: “A family source tells us Biz passed away in a Baltimore hospital at 6:25 PM Friday night.
“We’re told his wife, Tara Hall, held his hand as he took his last breath … and the nursing staff was there to support his family, telling them how strong he was through his fight.”
While a spokesperson for the star has said: “We are grateful for the many calls and prayers of support that we have received during this difficult time.
“Biz created a legacy of artistry that will forever be celebrated by his industry peers and his beloved fans whose lives he was able to touch through music, spanning over 35 years.
“He leaves behind a wife, many family members and close friends who will miss his vibrant personality, constant jokes and frequent banter.”
The rap star’s brother, Diamond Shell, shared an online post writing: “To the baddest in the beats icon legend… my brother Biz Markie… I’ll miss you more than words.”
Glee star Kevin McHale was among celebrities to pay tribute to Biz – and to express shock at his death at a young age.
The TV actor tweeted: “Nooooooo. A true game-changer.”
Rolling Stone paid tribute, tweeting: “Biz Markie brought wit and wisdom to rap and beyond for 30-plus years, whether freestyling, beatboxing, rocking the party, or making booger jokes.”
Biz was born in Manhattan, New York,in April 1964 and raised in the Harlem neighbourhood of the city.
He went on to break into the rap world in the 1980s and released his debut album, Goin’ Off, in 1988.
He went on to unleash four more albums between 1989 and 2003 and enjoyed chart success in the USA with singles including What Comes Around Goes Around and Let Me Turn You On.
Hid biggest hit, Just A Friend, was released in 1989 and sold over 1 million copies in the USA alone.