Wayne Fontana: 1960s pop star dies at 74


Wayne Fontana

Wayne Fontana, who found pop stardom in the 1960s with songs including Game Of Love, has died at the age of 74.

With his band The Mindbenders, the Manchester-born singer broke into the UK top five in 1964 with Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um.

They hit number one in the US and number two in the UK the following year with Game Of Love.

But he left to go solo later that year, reputedly quitting in the middle of a concert.

After going solo in 1965, he went on to have top 20 hits with Pamela Pamela and Come On Home.

Image caption

Wayne Fontana (second left) and the Mindbenders

DJ Tony Blackburn paid tribute on Twitter, writing: “So sorry to hear about the passing of great 60s icon Wayne Fontana yesterday. He was a lovely guy and gave us some great songs.”

A statement on behalf of his family said he died on Thursday at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport with his long-term partner at his side.

Born Glyn Ellis, the singer’s stage surname was borrowed from Elvis Presley’s drummer DJ Fontana.

He was among the performers at the first Glastonbury Festival in 1970, but struggled to sustain his solo career as the decade went on.

“Then I went into self-retirement, drank too much and didn’t know where I was half the time,” he told the Daily Express in 2017. He gave up drink in 1977 when he joined the 60s touring circuit.

‘Laughter, tears and jail cells’

In 2007, Fontana was back in the headlines when he was sent to jail for pouring petrol over a bailiff’s car and setting it alight.

At the time, his lawyer admitted his client had been “in considerable contact” with a number of bailiffs, but had no vendetta against them.

The singer angered the judge by turning up to court dressed as the Lady of Justice, carrying a sword and scales, and wearing a crown, cape and dark glasses. He was sentenced to 11 months.

On Facebook, Herman’s Hermits frontman Peter Noone wrote: “Wayne Wayne don’t go away.

“After 59 years of friendship, laughter, tears, jail cells and lost brain bells [sic], we have handed over our lovely lead singer Wayne Fontana to the big band in ROCK AND ROLL HEAVEN.”

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