Renowned saxophone exponent Kadri Gopalnath died at a private hospital in Mangaluru early on Friday, family sources said.
He was 69 and had been ailing for some time.
Gopalnath is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.
A Padma Shri awardee and one of the pioneers of saxophone music in the country, he had the distinction of being the first Carnatic musician to be invited to the BBC Promenade concert at the Royal Albert Hall, London, in 1994.
Gopalnath's son Manikanth Kadri is a noted music director.
Family sources said Gopalnath was admitted to hospital on Thursday after complaining of back pain and breathed his last early Friday following a cardiac arrest.
Known as 'Saxophone Chakravarty' (emperor of saxophone), Gopalnath was bestowed with the Kendriya Sangeet Natak Akademi award, Kalaimamani award from the Tamil Nadu government, the Karnataka Kalasri, the Gana Kala Bhushana and Naada Gandharva, to name a few.
He had played the saxaphone for Tamil film Duet helmed by the late director K Balachander with musical score by A R Rahman, popularising the otherwise lesser known instrument among audiences in Tamil Nadu.
Condoling his death, Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa tweeted: 'Kadri Gopalnath's death is an irreparable loss to the music world. I'm deeply saddened with his demise.'
The funeral will be held on Saturday after his elder son Guruprasad who is working in Kuwait reaches Mangaluru.
Gopalnath's body will be kept at the town hall for the people to pay their last respects, sources said.