EMF Bassist Zac Foley Dead At Age 31

Dance-rock musician collapsed in London on Thursday.

Bassist Zac Foley of dance-rock group EMF, who had a #1 hit with “Unbelievable” in 1991, died Thursday at age 31.

He was visiting a friend in the Camden section of London when he collapsed, and police say that by the time they arrived he was already dead. Scotland Yard determined there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding Foley’s death and are not treating it as a criminal matter, a department spokesperson said.

An inquest into Foley’s death was opened Tuesday (January 8) on behalf of his family. The post-mortem examination was inconclusive, a coroner’s spokesperson said. Toxicology tests were taken, but results are not expected back for about 12 weeks.

“He had sort of regressed a bit, fell down,” Jerome Foley said of his younger brother’s struggle with substance abuse. “But he was doing well and over the worst of it. This shouldn’t have happened.

“It was quite a shock, obviously, to all of us,” he added. “He had just come down for Christmas, and he was so fit and healthy. It’s such a waste. What is that they say about the light that burns twice as bright? That was Zac.”

“All I can say is I am numb with the loss of such a dear friend,” EMF drummer Mark de Cloedt wrote on the band’s Web site. “And remember, he’s at peace now.”

Foley was born in Gloucester, England, on December 9, 1970, to Rex and Anne Foley. He was a founding member of EMF. The bandmembers — Foley, de Cloedt, vocalist James Atkin, guitarist Ian Dench and keyboardist Derry Brownson — met in Cinderford, England, and formed the group in October 1989.

Two months after they formed, EMF — Epsom Mad Funkers — played their first gig, and shortly after the band was signed to EMI. At the end of 1990, “Unbelievable” was climbing the U.K. charts. In addition to being an instant sensation, the song had relatively long shelf life and in later years was featured in the soundtrack to the film “Coyote Ugly” and on numerous compilations including Millennium Party, ESPN Jock Jams and Red Hot + Dance.

EMF played propulsive pop music that blended throbbing dance beats, melodic vocals and sturdy rock rhythms. The group’s first album, Schubert Dip, was certified platinum by the RIAA, but the band’s follow-ups, the Unexplained EP (1992), Stigma (1992) and Cha Cha Cha (1995) didn’t fare nearly as well. In 1996 EMF broke up, but last year they embarked on a reunion tour.

At press time, Atkin was organizing an intimate memorial for Foley, who leaves behind his parents, his brother, and a sister, Anne Marie.