Alvin Stardust died aged seventy-two on 23rd October 2014 at home with his wife and family around him. His death came just weeks before he was due to release his first album for thirty years and the day after his last show at the Regal Cinema, Evesham. He had been diagnosed with prostate cancer eighteen months earlier, which later metastasised.
Alvin was born Bernard William Jewry on 27th September 1942 in Muswell Hill, North London. Moving to Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, at a young age where his mother ran a boarding house frequented by musicians and entertainers appearing locally, Alvin attended the Southwell Minster Collegiate Grammar School (now Southwell Minster School) in Southwell, Nottinghamshire, near Newark-upon-Trent, as a boarder. He made his stage debut in pantomime at the age of four years.
In the early 1960s Shane Fenton and the Fentones were an unknown teenage band who recorded a demo tape and mailed it in to a BBC programme with the hope of being picked to appear on television. While awaiting a reply from the BBC, the band's 17-year-old singer Shane Fenton, whose real name was Johnny Theakstone, died as a result of the rheumatic fever he had suffered in childhood. The rest of the band decided to break up, but then unexpectedly received a letter from the BBC inviting them to come to London to audition in person for the programme. Theakstone's mother asked the band to stay together, and to keep its name, in honour of her son's memory. Alvin, who was a roadie with them at the time, was asked to join the band and to use Shane Fenton as a pseudonym. The combo had a handful of hits in the UK Singles Chart: "I'm A Moody Guy", "Walk Away", "It's All Over Now" and their biggest hit, "Cindy's Birthday". These and their subsequent misses were all on Parlophone Records.
Alvin later also appeared in Billy Fury's movie 'Play It Coo'l. He was managed by Larry Parnes.
Alvin disappeared from the spotlight for a decade after the break-up of the Fentones, working in music management and performing at small venues with his wife Iris, the sister of Rory Storm. During the early 1970s, however, he acquired a new persona, 'Alvin Stardust', cashing in on the glam rock bandwagon. His new name was given to him by Peter Shelley, the co-founder (with Michael Levy) of Magnet Records. Shelley originated the persona of Alvin Stardust, writing, recording and singing the first Stardust single, "My Coo Ca Choo", in 1973. Shelley, however, had no interest in performing live or making public appearances, so even as "My Coo Ca Choo" was climbing the charts, he was on the lookout for someone to take over the role of Alvin Stardust. Hal Carter, Alvin's manager, suggested his client as a substitute. Alvin took over as Stardust in time to lip-synch "My Coo Ca Choo" on its first Top Of The Pops appearance.
All further Alvin Stardust records were sung by Alvin who had further chart successes with the hits "Jealous Mind", "You, You, You", "Red Dress" and "Good Love Can Never Die". In total, he amassed seven Top Ten entries, in a chart span lasting almost 25 years.
"Pretend" was a hit in the United Kingdom in 1981, reaching number four in the UK Singles Chart. It reached number one in the Dutch Top 40 in November, 1981. The song was also successful in Portugal in 1983.
Alvin Stardust was a guest act on the Morecambe & Wise Christmas Show in 1981.
The singles "I Feel Like Buddy Holly", written and produced by Mike Batt and "I Won't Run Away" reached number 7 in the UK Singles Chart, in 1984. "So Near To Christmas" was a minor hit, Number 29, in the same year.
Alvin participated in A Song for Europe, the UK qualifying heat of the Eurovision Song Contest, in 1985, with the song "The Clock on the Wall". He finished in third place behind Vikki and Kerri Wells.
In 1986, Alvin Stardust performed the duet "I Hope and I Pray" with Sheila Walsh on her album Shadowlands, which was released as a single. That year he also performed at Windsor Castle as a lead in the Lloyd Webber–Rice musical Cricket.
Alvin Stardust also starred in the UK tour of Godspell and played Uriah Heep in David Copperfield – The Musical and Sir Billy Butlin in The Butlin Story at the London Palladium. In 2005 he starred as the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, also at the London Palladium.
Alvin Stardust has numerous television appearances to his credit, and continued to tour as a performer and singer. In 1989, he also hosted his own Sunday morning children's TV series on ITV called It's Stardust. It featured stories, songs, poems, jokes and also cartoons and shows for younger children including The Adventures of Parsley, Little Miss and Satellite City.
During one show, in 1994, he was performing "My Coo Ca Choo" when one of the pyrotechnics went wrong and blew up in his face, knocking him to the ground. After a night in hospital, he was checked out the next day with no major problems.
On 2nd October 2011 Alvin Stardust was initiated into the exclusive entertainment fraternity, the Grand Order of Water Rats.
In 2011, Alvin Stardust made a return to the stage as a singer rather than an actor, and played the Arts Guild Theatre in Greenock on 28th October 2011.
Alvin Stardust was married three times. His first marriage was to Iris Caldwell, sister of Rory Storm and an ex-girlfriend of both George Harrison and Paul McCartney, as she had grown up with them in Liverpool. In 1981, Alvin Stardust married the actress Liza Goddard.