Jim Clench sang and played bass for April Wine. (aprilwine.ca)

Jim Clench, a Montreal bass player and vocalist who played with April Wine and Bachman Turner Overdrive, has died. He was 61.

Clench died Tuesday in a Montreal hospital after a battle with lung cancer, according to April Wine's Brian Greenway.

Clench was with April Wine, the Montreal band known for hits such as You Could Have Been a Lady and The Whole World's Goin' Crazy from 1970 to 1975, then rejoined as the band underwent a resurgence from 1992 to 2007.

He was with BTO from 1977 until the band's breakup in 1979.

His musical career began with a band called the Coven, before he joined April Wine.

Clench played bass on four April Wine albums — 1971's April Wine, 1972's On Record, 1973's Electric Jewels and 1975's Stand Back.

He also took over lead vocals from Myles Goodwyn on songs such as  Weeping Widow and Oowatanite, a song he wrote. His growling voice was a distinctive element for the band.

He left to join another band with Greenway, who eventually joined April Wine as a permanent member after that other group failed to get a recording contract.

Clench then played with BTO, taking over bass and sharing lead vocal duties with Fred Turner in the period after Randy Bachman left the group.

Clench played on 1978's Street Action and 1979's Rock N' Roll Nights with BTO before the group disbanded.

In 1992, Goodwyn reformed April Wine and Clench returned to record four more studio albums, 1993's Attitude, 1994's Frigate, 2001's Back to the Mansion and 2006's Roughly Speaking.

April Wine paid tribute to Clench on the band's website, but Greenway said they had lost touch with him after he left.

"He was a very private person, when he left the band he sort of stayed on his own and we were travelling a lot — and as happens with bands when you change members, you sort of lose contact sometimes," Greenway said.

Clench was not married and had no children. His funeral is scheduled to take place next week in St. John's.

With files from The Canadian Press