Rick Parfitt's close pal insists drugs were not to blame for the Status Quo guitarist's death.

'Dragon's Den' star Hilary Devey has blasted claims that the 'Whatever You Want' hitmaker - who died in Spain on Christmas Eve (24.12.16) as a result of severe infection following complications from a shoulder injury, at the age of 68 - passed away due to taking class A substances as he has been sober for ''many years''.

Taking to Twitter to respond to negative comments about the star, the 59-year-old businesswoman wrote: ''So awful to say that. Rick had not taken class A drugs for many years. (sic)''

It comes after Parfitt's band mate Francis Rossi hailed his band mate as the ''archetypal rock star''.

The 67-year-old singer has found it hard to come to terms with the loss of his dear friend and musical sidekick - who he has worked alongside since 1967.

And with all of the rock stars lost in 2016 - including David Bowie, Prince and most recently George Michael - Rossi says Parfitt still ''stands out'' as one of the greats.

He also says losing him was still a great ''shock'' despite his wild past, which saw him experiment heavily with drugs and alcohol.

He added: ''Rick was the archetypal rock star, one of the originals, he never lost his joy, his mischievous edge and his penchant for living life at high speed, high volume, high risk. His life was never boring, he was louder and faster and more carefree than the rest of us.

''There were any number of incidents along the way, times when he strayed into areas of true danger and yet still losing him now is still a shock. Even in a year that has claimed so many of our best, including now George Michael, Rick Parfitt stands out. I was not ready for this.''

Earlier this year, Parfitt - who suffered his third heart attack and spent several days in a coma after a gig in Turkey in June - admitted he was terrified of dropping dead on stage.

He said: ''I'm just aware of the nervousness I get before I go on stage. It does pump your heart slightly when you start to pace up and down the room, and you're about to go in front of thousands of people. Obviously it's going to have some effect on you. ''I do not want to tax myself in any way. I've been told medically not to. So whether it's a full gig or a cameo I'd still get fairly nervous and I do not want to get out on stage and drop dead in front of the fans. I do not want to do that.''

Parfitt said his latest heart attack had been a ''reality check'' and he subsequently quit drinking and smoking.