A Mansfield musician who has been a lifelong friend of rock legend Alvin Stardust has told Chad how the 70s icon had fought bravely through his illness.
Barry Steel said he had last seen the glam rock star earlier this month after he played a concert in Nottingham and has spoken of his shock at the singer’s death.
Stardust died this morning after a battle with prostate cancer, which Mr Steel said he had been fighting for some time.
He said: “I have known Alvin for almost 55 years and we have always been very close. He used to stay at our home when he was going shows locally.
“I’ve known about his illness for some time but I was told that he passed away ar around 7.10am this morning.
“I had discussed with him giving up - maybe doing one last concert at Mansfield Palace Theatre where it all started for him. I saw him a few weeks ago when he performed in Nottingham and it must have been very clear to everyone who saw him that he was gravely unwell, but if you closed your eyes and listened it was the same old Alvin.
“He really cared about Mansfield and its people - he was just a thoroughly modest and genuine Mr Nice Guy. There were just no heirs and graces about him.”
Mr Steel’s tribute the latest to come in from Mansfield locals, after the star’s agent revealed that Stardust had died.
The singer, whose 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 scoring hits with tracks including My Coo Ca Choo and Jealous Mind.
Born in Muswell Hill in London in 1942, he moved to Mansfield as a young boy and attended what is now the Southwell Minster School.
He made his stage debut in pantomime at the age of four, and first emerged in the early 1960s under the guise of Shane Fenton, before disappearing from the charts for more than a decade.
He re-emerged in the early 1970s as Alvin Stardust - a name given to him by record boss Michael Levy.
Dorothy Wells (82) told Chad that she knew young Bernard Jewry as a music-mad nine-year-old, and remained friends with the rocker as his success bloomed.
“He was such a good friend to me and this is just so very sad - my son called me this morning and told me that Bernard had died.
“I knew him from when he was about nine years old and I remember his mum and his aunty ran a boarding house on West Hill Drive and they used to take in all the musicians he met.
“I always called him Bernard and he went off to Southwell Minster School to pursue his music.
“Later, when he was famous, we used to go up to see him when he was back in Mansfield and he would often bring music friends back with him - I met Joe Brown once on one of Bernard’s visits home.
“He was a great lad who grew up to become a lovely man - a real local boy who made good.”
Maria Gibson (49) of Mansfield Woodhouse lived next to the singer’s mother at the height of his Shane Fenton days, and would regularly chat to him over the garden wall.
She said: “I was only a small child at the time but he lived next door and his mum and my mum were friends.
“When he was back home from doing his gigs he would always talk to me - he was just a really lovely genial fellow. We’d not stayed in touch, but over the years I don’t know how many times I’ve told people that I used to live next door to Alvin Stardust.”
Mansfield Mayor Tony Egginton has also paid tribute to the singer.
He said: “I remember he came to Mansfield Museum just a few years ago and ended up playing an impromptu set for the visitors.
“He grew up on Clifton Place next to the hospital site and he used to play at the Palace - it’s really quite a shock.
“He loved Mansfield and he used to love to come back here and he always said how impressed he was about how much the town had moved forwards.
“I met him on several occasions and know quite a few people who played with him over the years. He was a real Mansfield lad - music was in him from the start and there are very many happy memories.”
Stardust married three times - his second marriage to actress Lisa Goddard - and had four children. he was about to release his first album in 30 years.
A statement issued by his agent said: “He had recently been diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer and died at home with his wife and family around him.”