Russ Abbot has led tributes to comedian Freddie Starr, who has died aged 76.
Abbot, who appeared in Starr’s Variety Madhouse comedy series in 1979, described the stand-up as a “loose comedy cannon”.
The 71-year-old credited his appearance on that show with helping to launch his career, telling the Press Association: “You never knew what he would do next. A natural funnyman and hilarious.
“He helped launch my career of course and for that I will always be grateful.
“He was hugely popular in his day, unique in his unpredictability and bursting with a talent not seen before or since.”
Brian Shaw, who previously worked for Starr as either his promoter, agent, or manager for the best part of 30 years, and was a “very close friend”, hailed Starr as “a true genius”.
“He was an unpredictable genius”, he said.
“Starr was the godfather of comedy, the funniest man anyone had ever known, that’s shared by virtually everyone who ever knew him.
“He hadn’t been well in recent years
“He wasn’t terribly well. I was as choked as anyone when I heard the news.”
Fellow Liverpudlian comedian and TV personality Les Dennis said Starr was a “one off”.
“Freddie Starr was so exciting to watch live,” he tweeted.
“A true clown who could also sing like Elvis. A total one off. RIP.”
Starr’s fellow comic Jim Davidson was also among those paying tribute.
He tweeted: “Just heard the news. Freddie Starr was the greatest.”
Actor Bobby Davro said on Twitter that Starr was “one of our greatest comedy talents”.
He wrote: “I’ve just heard that Freddie Starr has died. He was the funniest man I have ever seen. I’m so sad we have lost one of our greatest comedy talents. RIP Freddie.”
Former Allo Allo actress Vicki Michelle said he had been a “great comedian”, while Apprentice boss Lord Sugar hailed him as a “very funny man”.
Starr, a household name who rose to fame in the 1970s, was found dead at his home in Spain, The Sun said.
A post on Facebook and Twitter pages claiming to belong to Starr appeared to confirm the news.
A post said: “This is Freddie’s manager Just to confirm Freddie has passed away. R.i.p to our greatest comedian of all time.”
Merseyside-born Starr was the lead singer of the Merseybeat group the Midniters during the 1960s and rose to national prominence in the early 1970s after appearing on Opportunity Knocks.
He was known by fans for his eccentric and often unpredictable behaviour.
According to The Sun, Starr was found dead inside his apartment in the resort of Mijas on the Costa Del Sol.