Singer and impressionist Joe Longthorne has died aged 64 after a battle with cancer, his family have confirmed.
Joe died peacefully in his sleep at 2am on Saturday, in the arms of his husband and surrounded by loved ones, his family said in a statement.
‘It is with the deepest sadness that we have to announce that the nation’s beloved entertainer Joe Longthorne MBE passed away peacefully in the early hours of today at his cherished home in Blackpool,’ they said.
‘Joe died in his bedroom, laying in the arms of his devoted husband of 21 years Jamie, with his rosary beads clutched tight to his chest.’
‘He leaves behind sister Ann and brother John. Our deepest sympathies and condolences go out to Jamie and all the family at this sad time.’
The star singer was born into an entertainment family of Romani descent in Hull, in 31 May 1955.
He shot to fame after appearing on the London Weekend Television series ‘Search for a Star’ in 1981.
His roaring success on the show led him to perform at venues such as the London Palladium and a month-long season at London’s Talk of the Town.
He had battled with cancer for much of his adult life, after first being diagnosed with blood cancer in 1987 which resulted in a diagnosis of chronic lymphatic lymphoma two years later.
He received treatment for the disease but in 2005 the lymphoma degenerated into Leukemia and he underwent a bone marrow transplant.
He was then diagnosed with throat cancer in 2014 but was determined to continue performing.
Having splashed out on a private helicopter, expensive cars, £1000 suits, and a six-bedroom mansion in Maidenhead, Longthorne filed for bankruptcy in 1996, allegedly due to ‘financial mismanagement’ following a change of management in 1994.
At age 39, he admitted, ‘I have hit a brick wall where I am unable to pay my debts.’
Before his marriage to Jamie, Joe also has a son, Ricky, with a woman named Susan.
He had been living in Blackpool, Lancashire with his husband at the time of his death.
Tributes to the late entertainer have begun pouring in on Twitter.
BBC Radio Humberside’s James Hoggarth tweeted: ‘Sad news this morning: the Hull born entertainer Joe Longthorne has died (according to his official website). Do you remember Joe from his days growing up in West Hull? #Hull #RIP’.
Presenter and comedian Les Dennis who worked alongside Joe said: So very sad to hear that Joe Longthorne has died. Worked with him many times. A supreme talent and nice man. Thoughts with his family. RIP.’
Labour MP for Ashton-under-Lyne, Droylsden and Failsworth offered her condolences, saying: ‘So sorry to hear of the death of singer and entertainer Joe Longthorne MBE, he was much loved by the many fans who adored him R.I.P. Joe.’
Paul Chuckle from renowned comedy duo ‘The Chuckle Brothers’ paid tribute to the late entertainer, saying: ‘Another great entertainer passed. RIP #JoeThongthorne 64 years old. Respect for a great act.’
English singer and 2004 X Factor winner Steve Brookstein drew attention to Joe’s singing voice, saying: ‘Gutted to hear Joe Longthorne has died. One of the best vocalists this country has every produced. Doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Outrageous voice. A sad loss. Rest in peace. Legend.’