May 24, 2012 / 7:07 PM / 7 years ago

Founding member of 3 Doors Down leaves band

Members of the band "3 Doors Down" perform during the 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada January 9, 2007. Band members are (from L-R) guitarist Chris Henderson, bassist Todd Harnell, vocalist Brad Arnold, and guitarist Matt Roberts. REUTERS/Steve Marcus

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Matt Roberts, a founding member of Mississippi rock band 3 Doors Down, is leaving the group after nearly two decades due to health issues, the band said on Thursday.

“3 Doors Down will always have a special place in my heart and it saddens me to take this time off ... But my health has to be my first priority,” Roberts said on the band’s official website.

Roberts did not elaborate but the website said his problems stemmed from circulation issues exacerbated by the band’s performance schedule, playing nearly 300 dates a year.

3 Doors Down, founded by guitarist Roberts, lead singer Brad Arnold and bassist Todd Harrell in 1996, rose to fame with their debut album “The Better Life” in 2000, fuelled by hit singles such as “Loser” and “Kryptonite.”

Their latest release was in 2011 with “Time of My Life.”

The group, which now consists of Arnold, Harrell, guitarist Chris Henderson and drummer Greg Upchurch, said the split was “an amicable one,” with Arnold adding that Roberts would “always be welcomed back with open arms.”

3 Doors Down will continue their current “Gang of Outlaws” tour as scheduled, performing across North America through June with rockers ZZ Top and country artist Gretchen Wilson.

Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy, editing by Jill Serjeant

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