THE world of quirky indie music was left a little darker this morning with the news that Tim Smith, singer with eternally loved, eternal outsiders the Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59.

Sadly, the man who brought us such quirkball, wonderfully English eccentric classics such as “Big Ship” and “All His Geese Are Swans” had been suffering from ill health for many years.

A full cardiac arrest in June 2008 had left him suffering with the little-understood condition dystonia, in which a person’s muscles contract uncontrollably and involuntarily. And also, horribly, one for whom the intensive care and therapy left him for the most part outside the boundaries of immediate NHS funding.

From their very first release, the “A Bus for A Bus On The Bus” 7″ (as Cardiac Arrest) back in 1979, Tim and the Cardiacs graced us with a unique, delightfully and wholly off-kilter musical vision which falls in the line of the truly great British eccentric visionary given flight. It divided listeners, but those who crossed Cardiacs’ threshold never left; a more avid and heartfelt fan base you’d be hard-pushed to find.

Fundraisers were ongoing to help ease Tim’s plight; a JustGiving appeal late last year passed its £40,000 target with ease, and reached six figures.

Rest deeply in peace, Tim. A true artist, Backseat Mafia salutes you.