Co-founding Judas Priest guitarist Ernie Chataway has succumbed to cancer at age 62, original Priest singer Al Atkins reports via Twitter.

"Just heard the very sad news that Ernie passed away last night," Atkins reportedly added on Facebook page, as quoted by Classic Rock. "He was a lovely bloke and a great guitarist and will be sadly missed."

The two were part of the earliest Priest lineup, dating back to 1969. By 1970, Chataway had been replaced by K.K. Downing -- but not before making a huge impression on Atkins.

"I remember the first time we met at the auditions for a new guitarist for Judas Priest in 1969 – his looks reminded me of Marc Bolan," Atkins says. "When he plugged in his guitar he totally blew us away, and made K.K. Downing look a complete amateur."

Chataway was later a part of an early, pre-Robert Plant version of the Honeydrippers. Atkins was replaced by Rob Halford in 1973. Downing continued with Judas Priest until 2011.