Phil Naro, best known as the singer in Billy Sheehan's early band Talas, has died at age 63 following an extended battle with tongue cancer.

"Phil was one of those rare individuals known as a 'singer’s singer,'" reads a statement on Facebook from Naro's family. "A staple of both the Canadian and U.S. music scene, Phil had become a mainstay in venues ranging from clubs to large performing arts centers and massive arenas."

Sheehan, offered his own condolences on Facebook. "One of the finest human beings I have ever known - I’m deeply saddened to report his passing," the hard-rock bassist wrote. "He fought a valiant battle till the end and inspired all who knew him to stay positive and keep going against all odds.

"On behalf of myself and all who were lucky enough to know him, I wish him peace for all eternity, and thank him for sharing his life, love, friendship and talent with the world. God bless you, Phil. Rest in peace dear friend. We will meet again."

Talas were well known on the Buffalo bar circuit, earning national exposure in 1980 when they opened 30 shows for Van Halen. But a lack of steady management left them unsigned, and they were never able to land a major-label record deal.

Their self-titled debut album was independently released in 1978 and included the local hit "See Saw"; their second album, Sink Your Teeth Into That, was also an independent release. Naro was not a member of Talas on those records, but the band's lineup eventually shifted, and he joined for its third album, 1984's Live Speed on Ice.

Watch Talas Perform 'High Speed on Ice'

Several years later, when Talas dissolved and Sheehan joined David Lee Roth's solo group in 1986 for the former Van Halen singer's debut, Eat 'Em and Smile, a Talas song, "Shyboy," was included.

Post-Talas, Naro kept himself busy with a multitude of other recording collaborations, including projects with Peter Criss (Kiss), the Rascals, Vanilla Fudge, Whitesnake, YesAsia and Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal (Guns N' Roses). More recently, he had reunited with Sheehan and Talas for a new album, which is due this year.

According to Sheehan, despite his pressing health issues, Naro pushed on and "brilliantly performed." “I’m not going down,” Naro told iHeartRadio last October. “I’m going to fight this cancer right ’til the bitter end.”

He is survived by two sons, a brother and his mother. The family hopes his music lives on. "Phil was capable of an extraordinary number of music styles, all built around his unmistakably powerful voice," they wrote on Facebook. "Fortunately, Phil left us with an extraordinary amount of recorded music, which will allow his artistic legacy to live on forever."

 

In Memoriam: 2021 Deaths