TRIBUTES have been paid to singer and actor Alvin Stardust who has died aged 72 after a short illness.
He had recently been diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer and died at home with his wife Julie Paton and family around him.
The singer – real name Bernard Jewry – started out in the music business in the 1960s but became a huge star on the back of the 1970s glam rock craze, with hits including My Coo Ca Choo and Jealous Mind.
His retro rock ’n’ roll, quiff, sideburns and eccentric outfits – often complete with a pair of black leather gloves – made him one of the most distinctive acts to grace the charts in the ’70s.
Among those paying tribute yesterday was Radio 5 Live DJ presenter Nicky Campbell, who wrote: “Pointing at the camera with his single leather glove. ‘Lay down and groove on the mat’. He did the attitude consummately. Alvin Stardust RIP”.
Veteran DJ Tony Blackburn said: “So sorry to hear about Alvin Stardust. He was a lovely man and gave us some great songs. RIP.”
Stardust, who lived in Billingshurst, West Sussex, was still performing until recently and working on a new album – his first in 30 years – which is due for release next week.
His manager Andy Davies said: “Alvin and I believed that, musically, he still had a great deal to give and explore, and so we recorded an album that is a testament to an artist who gave his career to music.
“He proved to be one of the most genuine and likeable men I’ve ever met. His passing is a huge and sad loss.”
He was married three times. His second wife was actress Liza Goddard.
Born in London, Stardust grew up in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, and started playing guitar as a schoolboy. He met one of his biggest influences, Buddy Holly, at a gig in Doncaster and played backstage with the singer and his band the Crickets.
He signed his first record deal in 1961 as the frontman of Shane Fenton and the Fentones but the band struggled to make the charts despite regular touring in Europe and the UK.
In 1973, he signed up with Magnet Records and took on the name that would make him famous – clocking up hit after hit as Alvin Stardust.
He recalled: “It started off as Elvin Starr, because they wanted a kind of rocky, country name.
“But [a woman] who was doing promotion for us said it wasn’t glam-rocky enough, so it became Stardust, then Alvin.”
His success continued into the 1980s, with Pretend, I Feel Like Buddy Holly and I Won’t Run Away all making the top ten.
At the height of his fame in the mid-1970s, he appeared on TV as part of the Green Cross Code road safety campaign.
Turning to acting, he appeared in musicals including playing the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium. He presented a children’s show, It’s Stardust, on ITV and appeared in dramas including Hollyoaks and Doctors.
His final album, called Alvin, will be released on Monday.
Michael Levy, who founded Magnet Records and now sits in the House of Lords as Lord Levy, said his death was “a sad day”. He said: “He was one of the most professional artists that I had the privilege of working with.
“He was a real gentleman. Whenever he did TV or a radio appearance, he would always thank the staff or the producer. He knew the score and knew what he was doing, he knew he had been given an opportunity and was prepared to graft to make the most of it.
“Whenever he did any promotional work anywhere in the world, we always got the same reports that he was a gentleman and a pleasure to work with.”
One of Stardust’s most prized possessions – a Spanish guitar his parents bought him for his 12th birthday – was recently the subject of a BBC Radio 2 documentary.
He took it with him when he went to see Buddy Holly, who autographed it.