Comedian Freddie Starr has died
PUBLISHED: 07:46 10 May 2019 | UPDATED: 10:31 10 May 2019
The comedian Freddie Starr has died at the of 76, according to reports.
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.
In 1997 he sparked outrage by hurling live chickens into an audience at the Britannia Theatre, Great Yarmouth.
Kerry Duthie, who was in the audience, said: "It was absolutely wicked. People were screaming and there were feathers flying in the air. The chickens were flapping about in a panic.
"I am not a big animal rights supporter, but to see that happen was so cruel. If it was a cat or dog, people would have been up in arms. But because it was a chicken they got away with it."
Starr shrugged off the criticism, saying: "There is nothing wrong with what happened and it will be left in the video. It was not cruel at all.
"As far as the chickens go, it was a one-off. They have a professional handler and were kept in the cool outside the theatre before going on stage."
He played on the same night The Beatles had performed in Great Yarmouth at the ABC Cinema in 1963.
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 small 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.
In 2011 the comedian was caught up in a police investigation into historic sex offences.
He was accused of groping a 15-year-old girl while she attended a Jimmy Savile TV show and spent 18 months on bail before he was told he would not be prosecuted.
In 2015 he lost a High Court damages claim against his accuser, leaving him with an estimated £1 million legal bill.
Starr's fellow comic Jim Davidson was 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."
TV presenter Amanda Holden said she hopes Starr is "remembered with a smile".
Writing on Twitter, she said: "Sad to hear of Freddie Starr passing today. His style may have fallen out of comedy fashion and favour-but it's important to recognise his once huge popularity and fame."
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