Sir Elton John pays tribute to late bassist

Sir Elton John has paid tribute to his late bass player Bob Birch and sent his condolences to the musician's family.

Birch, 56, was found dead at his home in Los Angeles in the early hours of Wednesday morning and officials are investigating the possibility he took his own life after they found what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

The bassist had played with the superstar since 1992 and a statement released on the singer's behalf has offered sympathies to his relatives.

The note, posted on Sir Elton's official website, reads, "We are very sad to report the sudden death today of Bob Birch, Elton's bass player and backing vocalist, in Los Angeles. Bob had been a member of the Elton John band since 1992, the longest-serving bassist in Elton's touring band. We send love and condolences to Michele Birch, and to their son, Jonathan. An appreciation of Bob Birch will be published very soon."

Rock matriarch Sharon Osbourne also paid tribute to Birch, writing in a post on Twitter.com, "I'm terribly saddened about the death of Bob Birch. He was a great musician & a true gentleman. Sending love & respect to his family & Elton."