Status Quo drummer Matt Letley has quit the English rock band after 12 years.

The 51-year-old musician will play his final performance with the group on Wednesday (19Dec12) at the O2 Arena in their native London.

The news comes just months before the four original members - guitarist Francis Rossi, singer Rick Parfitt, bassist Alan Lancaster, and drummer John Coghlan - are set to reunite for a limited engagement in the U.K. in March (13).

Letley says, "It's been a fantastic journey over the past 12 years or so, but I have decided that now is the right time for me to leave Quo and move on to something new. No doubt there will be much conjecture that this is somehow related to the upcoming reunion gigs, but I'd like to assure everyone that it has no bearing on my decision. Indeed, I wish the guys every success with this tour and certainly hope to come along to see one of the shows!

"I should like to take this opportunity to thank the guys in the band, our fantastic crew and (manager) Simon (Porter) and the girls in the office for their friendship and professionalism. Most of all I thank the fans without whom I should not have had the chance to play with one of the best rock and roll bands in the world."

And band manger Simon Porter insists there are no hard feelings: "The band would like to thank Matt for a dozen years of loyal service. He's a true pro and it's been a pleasure to work with him. We're delighted that his last hurrah with the band will be at such a prestigious London show and we wish him all the best for the future."