Alvin Stardust, a British singer who, when known in his earlier days as Shane Fenton, shared bills with the Beatles and also came to their rescue with food, has died at age 72, reports the BBC. He had been diagnosed recently with metastatic prostate cancer, the BBC said.
Fenton, born as Bernard William Jewry in the Muswell Hill district of London on Sept. 27, 1942, made his first vocal stage appearance at age 4. At age 17, he became road manager to a group called Johnny Theakston and the Tremeloes, which later evolved into Shane Fenton and the Fentones. The group got a contract with Parlophone Records in 1961, six months before the Beatles signed with the label.
Fenton became friendly with the Beatles in 1963 when they were appearing at the Granada, Mansfield. “I’d already worked with them a few times, so I went over the roof and found them trapped in their dressing room,” according an anecdote recounted in Bill Harry’s “The Beatles Encyclopedia.” “They said they were starving because they hadn’t been able to leave the cinema before since they arrived there during the afternoon. So I went back home and told my mother all about it and she made up a picnic basket full of food, with containers full of hot soup and piles of salmon sandwiches, which I took to them backstage, again going over the roof, and they were absolutely knocked out.”
Fenton appeared on bills with them at Royal Albert Hall and the Empire Theatre in Liverpool. It was at the Empire that Beatles manager Brian Epstein offered Fenton an opportunity to be his manager and also record the Lennon-McCartney song “Do You Want To Know a Secret.” According to Harry, Fenton turned the offer down because he already had a manager.
There’s another Beatles connection. Fenton married Iris Caldwell, sister of Rory Storm, leader of Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, the group Ringo Starr played drums for before he joined the Beatles. Caldwell had dated both Paul McCartney and George Harrison.
Fenton changed to the Stardust persona in 1973. His long string of generally rockabilly flavored releases included “I’m a Moody Guy” and “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue” as Shane Fenton and the glam sound of “My Coo Ca Choo,” “Jealous Mind” and “I Feel Like Buddy Holly” as Alvin Stardust. He had continued to perform and recently announced a new album to be released next month. “’Alvin’ is a new and exciting departure for me and I’m immensely proud of the finished product and the amazing work of Richard Scott and Scott Ralph of Daftdog Productions in recording and producing it,” he wrote recently on his blog.