Joseph Patrick Daniel Longthorne MBE (31 May 1955 – 3 August 2019) was an English singer and impressionist. He performed on stage and television, and released three platinum albums. Longthorne started his TV career at the age of fourteen when he landed a part in Yorkshire Television’s series Junior Showtime, and rose to popularity in 1981 through the London Weekend Television series Search For a Star, leading to his own television series The Joe Longthorne Show.
Longthorne was born in Hull, England, into a musical family of a “travelling, Romany background”. He grew up in the Hessle Road area of Hull, known for its fishing community, and considered himself as a “Hessle Roader”. He attended Villa Place Primary School, St Wilfred’s Primary School and Sydney Smith High School.
Longthorne came first in a talent show when he was six; his prize was a toy motor car. At fourteen he landed a part in Yorkshire Television’s series Junior Showtime, and remained with the show for over two years. He later turned professional and earned a living in Northern working men’s clubs.
Longthorne appeared on television in 1981, through the London Weekend Television series Search For a Star, where he performed as a singer and impressionist. His success on the show led to appearances at the London Palladium and a month-long season at London’s Talk of the Town. He played the London Palladium many times.
In 1988 he presented his own television series The Joe Longthorne Show.
He appeared regularly on several TV programmes in the 1980s, amongst which the notable ones are Les Dennis Laughter Show and the Royal Variety Performance. He performed in theatres in the United States and at the Sydney Opera House. Longthorne also released three platinum albums for Telstar, The Joe Longthorne Songbook, Especially For You and The Joe Longthorne Christmas Album.
Longthorne was known for his renditions of songs in the style of Dame Shirley Bassey. His other impersonations included Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Tom Jones.
The Variety Club awarded him its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007; this placed him amongst past recipients such as Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and Ella Fitzgerald.
Longthorne was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to charity.
Longthorne lived in Blackpool, Lancashire, with his husband and manager, James Moran. Longthorne was bisexual, and had a son, Ricky, from a previous relationship, and the two of them were estranged for 17 years until reuniting in 2009.
Longthorne was diagnosed with chronic lymphatic lymphoma, for which he received treatment, around the time of his appearance at the Royal Variety Performance in 1989. He continued to perform in spite of his illness. However, in 2005 the lymphoma degenerated into leukaemia, and he underwent a bone marrow transplant. In 2014, Longthorne was found to have throat cancer, but remained adamant in newspaper interviews that he would continue to perform after his operation.
Longthorne died at home in Blackpool on 3 August 2019, aged 64.
He is interred at Layton cemetery in Blackpool.
I Wish You Love (1993)
Live at the Royal Albert Hall (1994)
The Joe Longthorne Songbook 1988
The Christmas Album 1989
Especially For You 1989
The Joe Longthorne Christmas 2003
Sings to the Gods 2008
A Man and His Music (2013)
Joe Longthorne the Christmas Album (2013)
Love & Reflection 2002
Seasonal Songs from the Heart 2005
Perfect Love 2005
What a Wonderful World 2006
You and Me 2008
Live: A Man & His Music
Joe Longthorne – The Collection (2015)
The Silver Years (2020)
Joe Longthorne – Sugar in the Morning: The Autobiography (2015) ISBN 1784187186