British glam rocker Alvin Stardust, one of the biggest pop stars of his era, has died at the age of 72. He had recently been diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer.
Stardust, born Bernard Jewry on Sept. 27, 1942 in London, enjoyed a long line of top 10 hits in the ‘70s and early ‘80s, and topped the chart in his homeland with “Jealous Mind.” He was once described by Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards as "the Godfather of British Rock 'n' Roll,” and he'll be remembered for his tough-guy persona and rockabilly quiff.
As a youngster, his ears tuned in to the American Forces Network and Radio Luxembourg, and the sounds of Jazz, blues, swing and rock 'n' roll. Before he picked up his first guitar at 12, he was a looking up to the likes of Frank Sinatra, Howling Wolf, BB King, Ray Charles, Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly.
The performer had a handful of minor hits in the '60s on EMI’s Parlophone Records using the stage name Shane Fenton (leading the band the Fentones). But it was his over-the-top Stardust character that took his fame to new heights. After teaming with Magnet Records, Alvin’s “My Coo-Ca-Choo” peaked at No. 2 on the U.K. singles chart in 1973. The following year, he went one better when “Jealous Mind” hit No. 1 in his homeland. In the same year, “Red Dress” and “You You You“ cracked the top 10. Later, a stint on the legendary Stiff label was highlighted with a No. 4 peak for the 1981 song “Pretend.” The singer enjoyed more hits with Chrysalis, the songs “I Feel Like Buddy Holly” and “I Won’t Run Away” both reaching No. 7 in 1984.
The chameleonic artist also had a solid stage and screen career. He helmed shows on BBC Radio 2 and Radio 5, and at one stage hosted a Sunday morning children's TV series It's Stardust on Britain’s free-to-air ITV. He appeared in various U.K. TV series, including Hollyoaks.
Before his death, Alvin completed his first studio album in 30 years. The new set, Alvin, is scheduled for release on Nov. 3 through Conehead Records. “Alvin was incredibly proud of this album saying rather prophetically that he would die happy having made the album, as it was his best piece of work,” according to a statement published on his website.
Manager Andy Davies described the artist as “one of the most genuine and likeable men I've ever met; his passing is a huge and sad loss".
Alvin died at his home Oct. 23, with his wife Julie Paton and his family by his side.