Mike Scaccia, the guitarist for rock groups Ministry and Rigor Mortis, has collapsed onstage and died, whilst celebrating his band mate Bruce Corbitt’s 50th birthday.

Scaccia, aged 47, was playing with Rigor Mortis at the Rail Club in Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday night (December 22, 2012) when he collapsed, stunning his fellow band mates and those in attendance at the gig.

The Daily Mail reports that Scaccia had previously requested that the strobe lights at the venue be turned off and it has been suggested that he may have suffered a seizure, which led to his death. The band’s lead singer Bruce Corbitt posted a message on his Facebook page, saying “My brother is gone! The only reason I am who I am is because of this man. If it wasn't for him I wouldn't even be in a band. RIP Mike Scaccia! The greatest guitar player I ever knew!” Scaccia formed Rigor Mortis back in 1983 and the Texan group are considered to be pioneers of thrash metal. They added Corbitt as a singer five years later and landed a deal with Capitol.

Scaccia left the band in 1991 and joined the industrial rock group Ministry, with whom he remained for five years before leaving and re-joining Rigor Mortis. Al Jourgensen, the front man of Ministry has also posted on his own Facebook page saying “I just lost my lil' brother and my best friend – the 13th Planet compound is devastated, completely in shock and shattered 'Mikey was not only the best guitar player in the history of music, but he was a close, close, close part of our family – and I just lost a huge chunk of my heart today. Our lives are forever changed.”