United's Akihiro dies suddenly

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Akihiro Yokoyama of Japanese metal band United has died suddenly at the age of 49.

The bassist, who was also their main creative force and manager, passed away on Tuesday, it’s been confirmed.

A statement says: “It happened totally out of the blue and it is very hard for his family, United and the staff to accept it, but we wanted to share the news with everyone who has strongly supported both himself and United over the years.”

Yokoyama joined the band in 1983 when they were a Black Sabbath and Judas Priest tribute outfit. After he joined they began writing original material and released nine albums, their most recent being 2011’s Tear Of Illusions.

Former Iron Maiden singer Paul Di’Anno last night paid tribute, saying: “Aki was a great guy and great bass player, and shall be sorely missed. I had the pleasure to have United play with me during my last shows in Tokyo in 2010. Rest in peace, my friend.”