Sad news for the rock and metal world. Century Media Records co-owner Oliver Withöft has passed away at the age of 49. The record industry leader died after fighting a serious illness that forced Withöft to withdraw himself from daily management duties.

Century Media Records was founded by Robert Kampf in 1988, with Withöft making his mark on the label after joining roughly a year-and-a-half later. After its inception over 25 years ago, Century Media now ranks as an elite rock and metal label, having helped launch bands such as Lacuna Coil, Shadows Fall, Iced Earth, Suicide Silence + many others.

"Century Media has been a force in music for over 25 years under Oliver's leadership with his longtime friend and business partner Robert Kampf," former North American label president Don Robertson tells Billboard. "It was an honor to work with Oliver for the past four years and develop a friendship."

Withöft has been memorialized by many industry veterans along with musicians such as Nachtmystium's Blake Judd, who called Withöft's death "a real tragedy" and that he was "way too young." Øystein G. Brun of Borknagar also paid tribute. "This is a utterly sad day for everyone assosiated to the Century Family and it is a day of great loss for the music business in general," writes Brun. "But first and foremost we want to express our deepest condolences to his closest family! A great man has fallen!"

Oliver Withöft is survived by his wife, Judith, and their three daughters.