TRIBUTES have been paid to the drummer of a punk band famed for its hits in the early 1980s.

Richard Adland, otherwise known by his stage name Dick Slexia, has died in his mid-50s after losing his battle with cancer.

Mr Adland, from Lewes, came to fame through his time playing the drums for Brighton-based band The Piranhas, which formed in 1977.

Former bandmate and lead singer of The Piranhas, Bob Grover, said: “He was a trooper.

“He was a fine musician. We turned up at a venue one day in Brighton and Dick was waiting to do an audition with a different band and we basically just stole him from the other group.

“He was only 16 at the time and we were all in our early 20s.

“We all went through the hard times together for three years. We then became more popular.

“There are still many people that like the music and Dick was a big part of it.”

The band was an influential part of Brighton’s punk scene in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

After BBC Radio One played The Piranhas’ single I Don’t Want My Body, they went on to achieve great success with their hit song Tom Hark, a cover of the original by Jack Lerole.

The song became a top ten hit in the UK in 1980 and when the band appeared on Top of the Pops that year, Mr Adland played the drums using a pair of plastic fish as drumsticks.

Another of The Piranhas’ hits, Zambezi, reached number 17 in the UK Singles Chart in 1982.

Mr Adland’s close friend Mark Stillwell, 51, a carpenter from Lewes, said: “He had a wicked sense of humour.

“I had a general interest in music and drinking myself and went to see them play.

“They got to support The Jam on their European tour.”

Another former bandmate, John Helmer, said: “It’s incredibly sad that he’s the first of us to go because he was the youngest.

“We didn’t have much contact with him in recent years so for me he’ll always be that stripped-to-the-waist young kid on Top of the Pops playing the drums with plastic fish.”