Jimmy Tarbuck has remembered his friend Kenny Lynch as “a great singer and a wonderful personality who looked great in a good suit”.
The veteran entertainer said he had visited the Up On The Roof singer at home in the last month when he was very ill, adding that he was “ready to die”.
Lynch, who died on Wednesday aged 81, and Tarbuck frequently performed together over the years and Tarbuck said they ended up roaring with laughter as they reminisced recently on “so many” good times.
He added that he toasted Lynch with Sir Tom Jones on Tuesday night, saying: “It was the 50th year of Tramp and I went with Tom and he was saying the same thing, he was such a good singer and such a good talent, and that came from the best 80-year-old singer in the world.
“He said last night ‘Lynchy was a good singer’ and we raised a glass or two to him.”
Discussing when he last saw Lynch, Tarbuck said: “I went down to the house to see him, in the last month. It was very strange, he was ready to die.
“The funniest being we stood in for Les Dawson who wasn’t well and they had some costumes made for Les Dawson as a lion and he (Lynch) put it on ready for the show and the fire alarm went off in the hotel.
“We all had to get out on the pavement out in Glasgow and he said ‘I can’t go out like this, in a lion skin’, and I said ‘Well it’s either that or you’re on fire’, so we went out in the street and there were people doing double takes of him in this lion skin and me on the floor with laughter.
“He accused me of setting the fire alarms off so everyone would see him. Well we laughed over that. He was just wonderful.
“He said ‘Eastbourne? I’m in Watford.’
“So I had to fib to the audience that there had been a car crash and the roads were blocked and he couldn’t get there.
“He was just good company, you would laugh and then he would tell you he’s got a nice song.
“He sang from Ben E King songs to Noel Coward and he could sing them all, he could do it all.
“He was a very good looking guy as a young man, a great singer, a funny guy and the most important thing, people liked him.”
A statement from Lynch’s family shared on his Twitter account said: “Saddened to share this news with you all. Sadly our dad passed away in the early hours this morning.
“He will be remembered & missed by many. We would like to say a massive thank you to the NHS & the people at Sue Ryder for all their support. Bye Dad, we will love you always!”
Radio presenter Danny Baker tweeting that Lynch was a “huge talent, a pioneer and tremendous company”.
Sports broadcaster Gary Lineker tweeted: “Really sorry to hear that Kenny Lynch has passed away. Such a delightful, funny, talented man. Played golf with him on many occasions and he was simply the best company … when he wasn’t late. #ripkenny.”
Singer Boy George tweeted: “God Bless Kenny Lynch. R.I.P. My love and condolences to his family and friends. Absolutely huge part of my 70s life and on.”
Of Caribbean and Irish heritage, Lynch was one of the few black singers in British pop music at the time.
In 1963 he appeared alongside The Beatles on their first British tour when both acts were on the bill for a string of dates headed by singer Helen Shapiro.
In the same year, Lynch became the first artist to cover a song by the Fab Four when he re-recorded Misery from their debut album Please Please Me.
On the big screen he appeared in Carry On Loving in 1970, as well as The Plank and The Alf Garnett Saga, and on TV he starred in the short-lived sitcom Curry And Chips alongside Spike Milligan.