Tributes for Blackpool's 'adopted son' Joe Longthorne

Joe Longthorne
Joe Longthorne
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“A true performer to the very end.”

Joe Longthorne, Blackpool's adopted son, who captured the voices of some of the world's greatest stars from Tom Jones to Shirley Bassey, had been due to take to stage on Sunday at Viva.

The entertainer died at his home in the resort on Saturday August 3 aged 64.

A look-back at the career of the veteran entertainer:

A wealth of tributes have flooded in, many from those who had shared the spotlight with Joe. His husband and partner of more than 20 years Jamie Moran said: "Blackpool was Joe's adopted town and the people here treated him as a true Blackpudlian. He loved Blackpool.

"We have received so many messages - everyone has been so respectful, the hotels, the venues and Viva of course one of his favourite places."

Leye D Johns, owner of Viva Blackpool said Joe was very much part of the family, he said: “We are so unbelievably sad that our dear friend Joe Longthorne MBE passed away at the weekend.

“Our deepest condolences go out to his partner Jamie, as well as his friends, family and his showbiz family too.

“Viva has been honoured to host many of Joe’s shows in his final years, and he only performed with us just a couple of weeks ago - a true performer until the very end.

“With love all your Viva family. God bless you Joe.”

Longtime friend Peter Sedgwick of Blackpool Pier Company said discussions had been made for a lasting tribute to honour the platinum-selling artist on Blackpool Pier.

He added: "He was a great showman but a great friend.

"Joe did so much for Blackpool - his fans would travel from all over to watch him perform here - he will be sadly missed."

Comedian Syd Little, recalled his performance alongside the singer and impressionist at the Opera House in 1993 comedian with his double act Little and Large, with Eddie Large.

"What a talent he was - those shows in the Opera House were a sell-out and I remember the first five rows were full of Joe's fans. It was unbelievable.

"Eddie and I did the first act and he did the second, I just remember thinking I hope these fans like us, thankfully they did. Every night after though it was great.

"He was a smashing fella - top class and it was just amazing what he did and he had still got it."

Fellow comedian, actor, and singer Bobby Ball added: "It is such a massive loss - Joe was a wonderful entertainer.

"He was so loved but it never went to his head - he would make time for everybody."

Originally born in Hull,Joe, who rose to fame in 1981 as a singer and impressionist on TV show, Search For a Star, had lined up a series of shows at Viva for his 32nd season.

He had performed at many of the seaside town's most famous entertainment venues for nearly all of his 50 years in show business.

The showbiz stalwart was known for his striking musical impressions, especially of Shirley Bassey,also mastering the likes of Frank Sinatra, Barry White, Neil Diamond, Pavarotti, Julio Iglesias, Johnny Mathis, Tom Jones and dozens more.

Shirely Bassey once admitted, “Joe does me better than me.”

Ruth Eastwood, Grand Theatre CEO said: ‘The whole theatre was sad to hear of Joe’s passing, Joes time at Blackpool’s Grand is so memorable with so many of us, full houses and great love and affection from his fans.

"Our deepest sympathies and condolences go out to Jamie, his sister Ann and brother John, and all the family at this sad time. A true loss to the entertainment industry."

Anthony Williams, of the Winter Gardens added: "‘Joe was a supreme talent and one of the biggest stars of his generation, whom we were lucky enough to host on a number of occasions including several prestigious summer season runs.

"Our deepest sympathies and condolences go out to Jamie along with the family, friends and devoted fans of the true entertainment giant Joe Longthorne."

A statement on his website read: “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.”

Joe was diagnosed with blood cancer in 1987. He fought off the disease during a number of occasions over the next 30 years, even given the last rites by a priest at Blackpool Victoria Hospital in 2005 before miraculously bouncing back.

He continued to perform for audiences during all this time with several Royal Variety Performance in 1989.

In 2017 a special mayoral reception was held in his honour to celebrate 30 years of performing in Blackpool, with more than 100 guests invited to the Town Hall.

A book of condolences has been placed in the reception area of entertainments venue Viva in Church Street for friends and fans to pay their respects.