The Wanted star Max George has hailed his late bandmate Tom Parker as a “lion” and praised his “courage and dignity” in the wake of his cancer diagnosis.
The singer died aged 33 on Wednesday surrounded by his family and bandmates – 17 months after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour.
George shared a series of photos on Instagram showing them embracing, alongside a letter addressed directly to his friend.
He wrote: “Tom, my brother, my boy, my band mate, my best bud.. You lit up so many lives all over the world but I can only speak on behalf of mine.
“From the minute I met you, I knew this was gonna be a special chapter in my life. I was right.
“We did everything together, some amazing things, some outrageous things. Im so proud of what we achieved as band mates and as brothers.”
Referring to Parker’s widow Kelsey, he added: “I’m also proud that I was there the night you met Kels.
“I remember saying to you, ‘you like her don’t you?’.. to which you replied, ‘bro, like you wouldn’t believe’. You two really are like peas and carrots.
“Thank you for choosing me as your friend. It was an honour from day one. I’m so grateful I was with you until the very end.
“The courage and dignity I have witnessed over the last few months surpassed the lion I already knew you were.
“The huge hole now left in my life will forever be there, but I know your spirit will live on through your two beautiful babies, your wonderful wife, our music, your fans and in my heart.”
George said he is “heartbroken beyond words” and unable to imagine life without Parker.
He added: “But whatever I do going forward, even on my darkest days, I can always smile and say, ‘I shared the stage with Tom Parker’.
“I am going to miss you so much. I love you mate. Always. George.”
Despite his illness, Parker performed alongside his bandmates – George, Nathan Sykes, Siva Kaneswaran and Jay McGuiness – on their comeback tour weeks before his death.
In his own tribute, Sykes described Parker as “the most passionate, funny, driven and inspiring person you could wish to meet”.
Kaneswaran wrote: “Thank you for letting us see you light up the world.”
Ed Sheeran, former One Direction star Liam Payne and boyband Blue were also among those who paid tribute from the world of music.
News of Parker’s death was announced on Wednesday through a statement on The Wanted’s social media accounts.
His widow Kelsey said the hearts of their family are “broken”, and she remembered the singer’s “infectious smile and energetic presence”.
They had been married since 2018 and welcomed their son, Bodhi, in October last year.
Their daughter, Aurelia Rose, was born in 2019.