Kenny Lynch dies aged 81

Kenny Lynch

British singer-songwriter Kenny Lynch has died at the age of 81.

Lynch, who had several U.K. hit singles in the early 1960s and was one of the first black British singers to find pop success with songs like Up on the Roof and You Can Never Stop Me Loving You, passed away on Wednesday after a long illness, his daughters Bobby and Amy confirmed.

"Saddened to share this news with you all," a post on the star's Twitter page reads. "Sadly our dad passed away in the early hours this morning. He will be remembered & missed by many. We would like to say a massive thank you to the NHS & the people at Sue Ryder for all their support. Bye Dad, we will love you always!"

His close pal, The Benny Hill show star Cherri Gilham, also confirmed the news on Facebook.

"My darling Kenny Lynch died this morning after a long illness," she wrote. "Known him since I was 21. He kept his spirits up and his amazing sense of humour almost to the last minute. God bless you and rest in perfect peace my darling old friend."

As well as having his own hits and writing songs for the likes of Linda Thorson, Small Faces, and Cilla Black, Lynch also played a small role in the early evolution of The Beatles. The singer was on the bill for the group's first-ever U.K. tour, during which Paul McCartney wrote the song Misery, originally hoping it would be covered by top-billed act Helen Shapiro. Lynch covered it instead, and although his version failed to chart, his new arrangement was used by the band on their debut album Please Please Me.

The musician and entertainer also made regular U.K. TV appearances throughout the 1960s and '70s, appearing on Celebrity Squares, Z-Cars, The Sweeney, Till Death Us Do Part, and Treasure Hunt.

Lynch was made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II in 1970.

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