Rock guitarist found hanged in Peter Gabriel's studio

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The Independent Culture

A guitarist with one of Britain's most promising bands was found hanged yesterday in an apparent suicide at recording studios owned by Peter Gabriel.

James Lawrence, 26, was discovered by fellow members of the critically acclaimed Hope of the States at the Real World Studios in Box, near Bath. Their attempts to revive him failed and he was declared dead at the scene.

A studio spokesman said it was "with enormous sadness" that they informed people that James Lawrence had apparently taken his own life. "Everyone at Real World enjoyed working with James. He was a very talented musician and he was a pleasure to be with in the studio. We will all miss him greatly and our thoughts and heartfelt sympathy are with his family and friends at this time."

Mr Lawrence's family were too upset to comment.

Hope of the States earned favourable musical comparisons with Radiohead from critics last year and recently signed to the giant Sony Records after arousing feverish industry interest. They were expected to go on to achieve mainstream success.

The band were at Gabriel's studios putting the finishing touches to their first album, recorded in Russia and Ireland. It was due for release in the spring, with a single expected later next month.

Their first single, "Black Dollar Bills", was removed from the music channel MTV's playlist when it was released in March at the time of the Iraq war because the accompanying video was deemed to contain politically inappropriate images.

The band played at this year's Glastonbury festival as well as at the ICA in London during a recent tour to promote their second single, "Enemies/ Friends", which reached number 26 in the singles chart in October and earned them an appearance on Top of the Pops.

Formed in their home town of Chichester, West Sussex, the six-piece outfit have created a distinctive musical style combining violins and guitars. On stage their apocalyptic visions were bought to life with projections and animations of bombed-out landscapes.

A Wiltshire Police spokesman said Mr Lawrence was found hanging from wooden beams in one of the recording studios early yesterday. "I can confirm that we were called to the Real World studios in Box shortly after 4am today where the body of James Lawrence was found by other members of the band hanging from the rafters. He was taken down and efforts made to revive him but to no avail," he said.

Gabriel, the former Genesis star, built Real World Studios in 1988 in the rolling hills outside Bath. Its website says: "Crop circles and UFO sightings, ley lines and hauntings make this one of the most unusual places in Britain."

The complex boasts some of the most advanced recording equipment in the world. The Stereophonics, Midge Ure, Kylie Minogue and the Beautiful South have recorded there.