The comedian Freddie Starr has died aged 76 at his home in Spain, according to reports.
Posts on social media pages claiming to belong to Starr appeared to confirm the news.
“This is Freddie’s manager. Just to confirm Freddie has passed away. R.i.p to our greatest comedian of all time,” a brief statement on Facebook read.
Merseyside-born Starr was the lead singer of the Merseybeat group the Midnighters during the 1960s and rose to national prominence in the early 1970s after appearing on Opportunity Knocks.
His body was reportedly discovered by a carer at his apartment in Mijas on the Costa del Sol.
A neighbour, who asked not to be named, told the Mirror: “His carer found him dead in his chair at around 3.30pm. Police arrived first and then later an ambulance arrived and he was taken away.
“His next door neighbour, who is a nurse, said he was definitely dead. She said she thinks he may have suffered a heart attack.”
Another neighbour added: “He’s been quite ill ever since he moved in and has barely left his apartment since moving in a couple of years ago.”
In 1986 he was famously at the centre of one of the best-known newspaper headlines when The Sun splashed with: “Freddie Starr ate my hamster.”
The story claimed Starr placed the creature between two slices of bread and ate it at a friend’s home after returning from a performance in Manchester. But in his 2001 autobiography Unwrapped, Starr said the incident never took place.
He took part in the 2011 series of ITV’s I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! but dropped out due to ill health.
A meal of fermented egg and a camel toe forced Starr to leave after he suffered an allergic reaction and had to be taken to hospital.
Medics advised Starr to drop out of the competition in case his illness flared up again.
In 2012, during the Operation Yewtree investigations, police looked into an allegation of historical sexual abuse against Starr, which he said left him “suicidal”.
Starr was told in 2014 he would not be prosecuted after spending 18 months on bail. He lost a damages claim against his accuser in the High Court in 2015.
In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, he revealed he moved to Spain following the ruling, which left him facing a bill unofficially estimated at about £1m.
He told the paper: “No matter which way I turned there was a fucking revolver pointing at my head so I thought ‘I’m not going to tell anyone, I’m just going to get on a plane and go to Spain, the place I love, and this is where I’m going to die’.
“I didn’t even know how high the legal fees were until after I’d left Britain.”
He added he had not moved “to deliberately get out of paying” and had planned to emigrate regardless of the outcome.