Published Jun 10, 2020Paul "Tonka" Chapman — a Welsh guitarist known best for his work with UFO, Lone Star, Waysted and more — has died. Chapman's son confirmed his father's passing on Facebook, though no cause of death was revealed. He was 66.
"It is with a heavy heart writing this, today is my dads 66th birthday. He passed away earlier this afternoon," Chapman's son wrote. "He was a brilliant, energetic, loving and most carefree person and the First man I ever loved. Everyone he came in contact with loved him. no ADORED him...I appreciate everyone's thoughts and prayers as his family grieves and processes everything at this time."
UFO soon passed along their "deepest sympathy to the family and friends" in sharing the news.
After playing in a handful of U.K. rock bands, Chapman first joined UFO in 1974 as a rhythm guitarist. While he didn't appear on any of the band's studio efforts from the period, he would tour behind UFO's Phenomenon album ahead of leaving to form Welsh outfit Lone Star in 1975.
In 1977, Chapman joined UFO on tour to fill in for Michael Schenker, and would rejoin the band on a permanent basis upon Schenker's departure in 1978. Stepping into the role of lead guitarist, Chapman would first appear on 1980's No Place to Run, produced by famed "fifth Beatle" George Martin.
Chapman would lend his six-string skill to 1981's The Wild, the Willing and the Innocent, 1982's Mechanix, and 1983's Making Contact. While UFO would disband in 1983, the group would reform without Chapman in 1984.
Following his second stint with the group, Chapman would join former UFO bandmate Pete Way in Waysted, lending guitar to 1985's The Good the Bad the Waysted and 1986's Save your Prayers. He continued to teach music and perform with projects including Killer Bee and Molly Hatchet spinoff Gator Country until his passing.