Top Kiwi musician Ian Morris who died suddenly this week was depressed, a former girlfriend says.

Morris, 53, a member of the 70s rock and pop band Th' Dudes, was found dead in Napier on Thursday. He left behind his ex-wife, When The Cat's Away singer Kim Willoughby, daughters Julia and Maude, and stepson James.

Former girlfriend Callie Blood, who worked with Morris for 20 years, said people who had seen him recently said he was depressed.

"Depression is a funny word. I would call it a deep unhappiness that possibly he couldn't put his finger on. But he was always a very proud person as well, so he was quite hard to help in that sense."

Blood said Morris was a genius, but although he was brilliant with words, he was never that comfortable in his relationships with people.

Under alter ego Tex Pistol in 1987, Morris had a New Zealand No 1 hit with The Game of Love. The following year he and his brother Rikki Morris topped the charts with Nobody Else.

Rikki Morris said yesterday he couldn't answer why his brother had died suddenly.

"I think we will have our moments in life. It's no one's business really how he lived his life and what brought about this moment in time. But we all struggle at times, he was no different ...That's life and he knew that more than anybody - it's just life."

Morris was also engineer and producer for Hello Sailor. He was behind the the band's huge hit Gutter Black, a theme song now for Outrageous Fortune.

Hello Sailor legend Dave McArtney said Morris was a very gentle, quiet guy: "He was one of these people you would never ever hear say a bad word about anybody."