Riot Guitarist Mark Reale Dead at 56

It has been confirmed that Riot founder/guitarist Mark Reale has passed away from complications due to Crohn's Disease. Reale was 56.

The guitarist had reportedly been in a coma since January 11 after suffering a subarachnoid hemorrhage, a result of his lifelong battle with Crohn's.

Mark Reale co-founded the New York-based heavy metal band Riot in 1975 and went on to release fourteen studio albums with the band, the latest being Immortal Soul in October of last year. The band was scheduled to be on tour this year in support of Immortal Soul, and while the band attempted to soldier on after Reale fell into a coma, the future of the band now remains uncertain.

A posting on Reale's official website reads: "Our brother Mark Reale went home to be with our Lord this day January 25th 2012 after a long battle and complications from Crohns disease. He is survived by his father Anthony Reale and was precede in death by his mother Frances Reale. Mark was born June 7th 1955 in Brooklyn New York at a time when rock and roll was

flourishing with many new sounds. Early in his life, his first interest had been the movies. ever so curiously, he had shown an interest in films. But then, songs he heard on the radio began to change that. He quickly began to love music from the Beatles and Cream. Mark lists George Harrison and Eric Clapton as great influences. When he was 7 years old his grandfather bought him his first basic guitar to practice on and later his father bought him a new guitar and amp, his passion had begun.

In the early to mid 70's his influences included the likes of Edgar Winter, Ronnie Montrose and Rick Derringer. He also loved a range of bands and artists from Al Di Meola to Deep Purple. In 1975 Mark formed his band Riot, then at a block party Mark's father found vocalist Guy Speranza. Mark's guitar style and his passion for writing songs that told stories that were so deep and moving had made a real connection with those who would become life long fans. The fans felt so connected to Mark because the lyrics in Riot's songs were extremely close to the stories of their own lives. His song writing style could weave tales of anything from old lore to battle fields and warriors, personal loss and triumph. And heavy metal anthems that will be with us for decades to come.

The brethren of brothers that Mark spent his life long career in music with and whom he leaves behind or joins in heaven are, Guy Speranza, L.A Kouvaris, Kip Leming, Peter Bitelli, Rhett Forrester, Rick Ventura, Jimmy Iommi, Sandy Slavin, Tony Moore, Don Van Stavern, Mike Flyntz, Pete Perez, Bobby Jarzombek, Mike Dimeo, John Macaluso, Bobby Rondinelli, Mike Tirelli, Frank Gilchriest and Damon Di Bari who was always like the '6th. member of the band being Riot's lighting director / production manager / tour manager and Mark's personal assistant. Mark's final days were spent with Damon at his hospital bedside, sharing the fans thoughts, well wishes and prayers. Even though Mark began his career in New York, San Antonio was a special place he loved and not only lived here for a while but had planned on moving back here to make San Antonio his permanent home.

With heart felt thanks to the fans around the world, the United States, Japan, Europe and all points in between. The RIOT army meant everything in the world to Mark., it's what kept him going. The loyalty and love of the fans fueled his passion and desire to continue making music for as long as possible. Please keep the mighty Tor in your hearts and the memory of Mark alive within you.

Shine on, Mark shine on!"

In a statement via their official Facebook page, Reale's bandmates added: "To friends and fans of Mark Reale and RIOT, we are deeply saddened to confirm that Mark has lost his battle with a lifelong illness. Your thoughts and prayers are appreciated by Mark's family, friends, and bandmates at this difficult time."

Mark and Riot had a major impact on the late '70s metal scene, influencing many of the musicians who would eventually bring about the thrash movement. Upon learning of Reale's death, former Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman commented: "I just heard that Mark Reale from RIOT passed away. 'Rock City', 'Narita' and 'Fire Down Under' are three of my favorite albums of all time. I wore all three of them out and have loads of great memories attached to all those great songs. Thank you for the music. Friends please take care of yourselves."

Originaly Anthrax vocalist Neil Turbin also issued a statement on Reale's passing, saying of Riot: "My favorite metal band in high school and one of my greatest musical inspirations of all time. 'Fire Down Under' was such a huge influence on me when I was writing songs like 'Metal Thrashing Mad'. My sincere condolences to Mark's family, friends, fans and bandmates. Shine on, warrior."