A MEMBER of one of Britain's longest-surviving rock bands, The Stranglers, is tonight recovering in hospital after falling ill before the band's Oxford show.

Jet Black, 74, has been the band's drummer since their formation almost 40 years ago.

Fans at the band's show at the Oxford O2 Academy this evening reacted with shock at an announcement by singer Baz Warne that Jet had been rushed to hospital in the city, and asked for the crowd's permission to continue without him.

Drumming duties were picked up by a member of the band's crew, Ian Barnard.

Warne said Black was recovering from an unspecified illness, but joked that he was tonight well enough to swear at the rest of his bandmates.

Mystery surrounds Black's illness, though the band's driver, speaking outside the Cowley Road venue, said Black was "74 and just not well".

Referring to Black's hospitalisation, Warne changed the lyrics to one of their biggest hits Peaches, to remark "there are worse places to be...like in hospital in Oxford."

No one from the band's management was available for comment.