East End remembers Kenny Lynch as showbiz tributes pour for the singer who dies at 81
PUBLISHED: 17:22 18 December 2019 | UPDATED: 17:44 18 December 2019
Tributes have been paid to singer and entertainer Kenny Lynch, the East End kid raised next to the railway arches in Shadwell who became a national star, who has died at the age of 81.
Kenny, best known for his Top 10 chart hit Up On The Roof in the early 1960s, died today (Wednesday), his family said.
"Saddened to share this news with you all," a statement shared on Lynch's Twitter account said. "Sadly our dad passed away in the early hours this morning. He will be remembered and missed by many."
The family have thanked the NHS and the people at Sue Ryder end-of-life palliative care and bereavement support charity.
He appeared with The Beatles on their first British tour in 1963 when both acts were on the bill for a string of dates headed by singer Helen Shapiro, the Hackney schoolgirl who made it big in showbiz four years earlier.
Lynch became the first artist to cover a song by the Fab Four when he re-recorded Misery from their debut Please Please Me album that year.
He appeared on the big screen in Carry On Loving in 1970, as well as film comedies such as The Plank and The Alf Garnett Saga, and on TV in the Curry And Chips sitcom with Spike Milligan.
Lynch spoke frankly in a video interview with 1,000 Londoners last year, about his family and early childhood in the East End, about his early experiences of the Second World War when the London Docks where he lived were heavily bombed in the Blitz.
"It was bombs dropping all the time," he recalled. "When you are about three or four, it was fun. We used to say 'there's another house on fire'.
"But everybody's very close together during the War. It's only the day after the war stops that they all start fighting again, like they do now."
Kenny was the youngest of 11 children—but said he never even met half of them. He was also the last survivor of that family.
His father came to Britain from Barbados in the Merchant Navy in the late 1890s. His mother was Irish.
Lynch was brought up in Shadwell in a mix-race family living in a small dwelling in Cornwall Street, by the Fenchurch Street railway arches off Cable Street, but said he "never had racial problems because basically we were probably a novelty".
Radio presenter Danny Baker was among those leading today's tributes to Lynch, tweeting that he was a "huge talent, a pioneer and tremendous company".
Baker added: "He wasn't interested in his 'place' in pop culture—he was there."
Kenny Lynch had a string of hits in the 1960s including Up On The Roof and You Can Never Stop Loving Me, both in the Top 10, one of the few black singers in British pop music at the time.