Joe Longthorne loved Scarborough and the town loved him, says ex-Futurist boss Barrie Stead

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The former boss of Scarborough's Futurist Theatre has told of his sadness at the death of entertainer Joe Longthorne.

Barrie Stead and his wife Brenda ran the Futurist for 12 years, until its closure in January 2014.

Joe, who died aged 64 on Saturday, was a regular at the seafront venue, appearing there eight or nine times, said Barrie. He also played at the Spa after the Futurist's closure.

See HERE for photos of Joe performing at the Futurist.

Barrie said: "I knew him very well, he was a lovely man. I produced the Joe Longthorne show at theatres up and down the country, Blackpool, Torquay, you name it.

"Joe was totally dedicated to his profession, and the tragic thing about it all was his poor health."

The singer and impressionist was diagnosed with lymphoma in 1989, at the peak of his career. He was later diagnosed with leukaemia, and had further health complications after a bone marrow transplant in 2005, but he recovered and continued singing at sell-out concerts.

The final days of the Futurist: see HERE
In 2012 he was awarded an MBE for charitable services.

His health further declined when he was diagnosed with mouth cancer, but he returned to work in time for his 60th birthday celebrations.

Barrie said: "Without his health problems he would have been a megastar. He played in Vegas but by then his health was deteriorating."

Scarborough held a special place in Joe's heart, said Barrie.

"He was worshipped in Scarborough, and he loved the town and the Futurist. He used to ask me to keep the first 20 rows free when we booked him, because he knew his loyal fans, with their flowers and other gifts, would fill them - and they did.

"I can picture him now sitting in number one dressing room, eating biscuits and drinking tea because we had tea-making facilities in there, and saying 'This is great Barrie, you don't get this anywhere else."