MANOWAR has released the following statement regarding the passing of the band's former drummer, Scott Columbus:"With great sorrow we announce the passing of our brother Scott. A rare talent, equally a rare individual, a father, friend and a brother of metal. "All the great moments we spent together are burnished in our hearts and memories forever. We know he is in a good place and at peace. He will never be forgotten." Columbus joined MANOWAR in 1983 but left the band in 1990 when his son fell ill. He returned to the fold for the "Louder Than Hell" album in 1996 and remained with the group April 2008. He explained in a 2010 interview that his final departure from the band came after he disagreed with MANOWAR bassist Joey DeMaio on "a few points of interest," but said they remained on speaking terms, adding, "Why let something professional interrupt something personal? I tend to make friends for life." He also dismissed any suggestion that he'd left the band because of ill health, insisting, "I'm in the best shape of my life. I mean, I'm 112 years old, but I'm in the best shape." "I had a long and wonderful career with MANOWAR. I have no regrets — but life moves on." His girlfriend of nearly four years, Nancy, wrote in an online post, "I cannot get the words out. Please send your thoughts and prayers — I can't believe he is gone. He was the absolute love of my life." In the months prior to this death, Columbus was working on an instrumental project called INSTRUMETAL. He described it as "very heavy, very rhythmically driven. I call it heavy metal elevator music; you pop the CD in your car and before you know it, you're driving 125 miles an hour!" Scott Columbus was only 54 years old.