A BUCKS COUNTY guitarist who toured the nation performing with renowned musicians was fatally shot Wednesday night, authorities said.

Danny "Rio" DeGennaro, 56, was found shot to death inside his home on Crabtree Drive in Levittown, Bristol Township, shortly after 10 p.m.

"We have a suspicious death," Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler told WPVI-TV. "It does involve a gunshot wound to the chest."

Bristol Township police did not return requests for comment yesterday, but the Bucks County Courier Times reported that police were called to the home after a report of a victim of a fall and found DeGennaro dying of his wound.

According to DeGennaro's website, he performed with Bo Diddley, Clarence Clemons and Billy Squier, and was a regular with Kingfish, a band with close ties to the Grateful Dead. DeGennaro's manager and several family members did not return requests for comment.

"I just played with him in November and we were just about to record some tracks," said Gary Balduzzi, a bass player from Montgomery County. "It's pretty strange."

Police initially questioned a "person of interest" in the case, the Bucks County paper reported, but that person was released. Balduzzi said that he wasn't aware of any problems in DeGennaro's life, noting that he recently spoke with the guitarist's manager and heard good news. "Things were starting to take off" in DeGennaro's career, he said.

DeGennaro, a Pennsbury High School graduate, was pronounced dead at St. Mary Medical Center. An autopsy was scheduled for today.

According to a website announcing a February 2011 benefit for DeGennaro, the musician apparently had "put his career on hold" to care for his cancer-stricken mother, Dolores, who died in November 2010. According to the web page, bills had "piled up."

Friends and fellow musicians yesterday posted tributes to DeGennaro on his Facebook profile and on a page that he created for the Danny DeGennaro Band.

"Your music will play forever with us," one person wrote.