Claudio Coccoluto
Claudio Coccoluto Image Credit: Twitter/@Faycebuk

Claudio Coccoluto, a renowned Italian house music DJ who packed out clubs across Europe in the 1990s, died on Tuesday aged 59, his former employer, Radio Deejay, said.

He died "after having fought for a year against a serious illness," Radio Deejay wrote on its website.

Coccoluto died in his home in Cassino, a town some 130 kilometres (80 miles) south-east of Rome, the broadcaster added.

Fellow DJ Gilles Peterson paid tribute on Twitter to a man he described as "an icon of Italian DJ culture... a true gentleman... always curious, always excited to exchange music and always a thrill watching him in action".

Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini hailed "a protagonist of the Italian and international creative scene... who got entire generations of boys and girls dancing with his tunes and avantgarde music."

Coccoluto started spinning records at the age of 13 in his father's house appliances store in Gaeta, a seaside town halfway between Rome and Naples.

He was the first European DJ to play at New York's Sound Factory Bar, and his greatest hit - "Belo Horizonti", produced by Basement Jaxx - dominated European dance floors in the late 1990s.

He co-founded one of Italy's most famous clubs, the Goa in Rome, and stood unsuccessfully for parliament in 2006, for the left-libertarian "Rosa nel Pugno" party.