Peter Urlich has paid tribute to his Th'Dudes bandmate Ian Morris, who was found dead yesterday morning in Napier.

The 53-year-old was a founding member of iconic Kiwi band Th' Dudes and worked as a producer and record engineer with many musicians during his career.

Napier police would not provide details about Morris' death today but said there were no suspicious circumstances.

"At this moment I'm waiting to wake from a terrible dream," said Mr Urlich in a statement. "I have just lost my oldest and dearest friend, Ian Morris.

"The cruel fact is that only in these moments, do you truly realise how important a mate like that is. If I were a house, one side of me has just collapsed. Ian was one of the foundations of me.

"He possessed a talent that I was in awe of; he had a staggering intelligence that had few equals; his mind was scalpel sharp but his heart was soft; and we shared a sense of humour that I thought we would trade until we were wizened old men. (I recognise these attributes also in David Joseph Dobbyn).

"The two of them found each other in Form 1, Sacred Heart College, 1968 - a pair of slightly nervous freshmen, who only had music to fight off the bullies. And I found them at the same time.

"Thank God! I cannot begin to accurately describe what those two men mean to me. And now one of them has gone. Ian, I loved the way you played guitar, I loved the way you played with my boys Joe and Stan: I loved your immaculate taste in music.

"I cherished that we were so in tune that we didn't need words. Thank you for all of your wisdom. I can't remember when you were actually wrong. Thank you for the fact that you would have forgiven me anything. That goes for me too. And thank you so much for choosing me to be your lead singer."

Th' Dudes began rehearsing in the summer of 1975 and went on to have national and international success.

Morris had a hand in penning many of the band's hits, including Walking in Light, Right First Time and the party favourite Bliss.

Morris left Th' Dudes in 1980 and continued to sing in Hawkes Bay in recent years.

He also found success as a solo artist under the name Tex Pistol, with his cover of the Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders song The Game of Love topping the New Zealand charts in 1987.

A collaboration with his brother Rikki Morris on the song Nobody Else also reached the number one spot in 1988.

In 2006 Th' Dudes reformed for a national tour, with Morris writing a tour diary for the Herald.

He was married to When the Cat's Away singer Kim Willoughby.

- Hawke's Bay Today, NZ Herald staff