MORPHINE drummer Billy Conway passed away at 65 after a long battle with cancer, 22 years after the band's singer Mark Sandman died on stage.

Conway's bandmate Jeffrey Foucault confirmed the drummer's death to Rolling Stone on Monday.

In a Facebook post, the band Vapors of Morphine – founded by the remaining members of the original Morphine group – addressed the musician's death in a statement, saying: “We are devastated to learn that our brother, Morphine drummer Billy Conway, has passed.

"Our deepest condolences go to his family and friends.”

The American rock band was formed in 1989 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, by Mark Sandman, Dana Colley and Jerome Deupree.

Conway frequently played in the band during Deupree's absence, though at times both played together.

The drummer appeared on the group’s first two albums – 1992’s Good and 1993’s Cure for Pain – before replacing Deupree as a permanent member.

Morphine combined blues and jazz elements with more traditional rock arrangements, giving the band a unique sound.

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The band released their first three albums independently before signing with DreamWorks for their album Like Swimming in '97.

Despite scoring a record label deal, Morphine never broke through in the way many of their fans expected.

After five successful albums and extensive touring, they disbanded after lead vocalist Sandman died of a heart attack onstage in Palestrina, Italy, in July 1999.

At the time, Sandman was highly regarded by many other bass players for his unique "slow and murky" style.

After Sandman's death, Colley and Conway proceeded to form Orchestra Morphine, a group of the former bass player's friends and colleagues – who toured to celebrate the band's music and raise funds for the Mark Sandman Music Education Fund.

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