British Invasion singer Wayne Fontana, who with his band The Mindbenders scored a #1 hit in 1965 with “The Game of Love,” died on August 6, Billboard reports. He was 74.
Fontana’s passing was confirmed in a tweet from the U.K.’s Chimes International agency on behalf of Wayne’s family, which reports that the singer died on Friday afternoon at a hospital in Stockport, U.K. with his “long term partner…by his side.”
Chimes director Robert Pratt tells Billboard that Fontana died after a “long illness,” and described him as a “great entertainer, and a really nice man.” Wayne is survived by a daughter and two sons.
Fontana was born Glyn Geoffrey Ellis in Manchester, U.K.; he took his stage name from famed Elvis Presley drummer D.J. Fontana.
“The Game of Love” was Fontana and the Mindbenders’ only major hit in the U.S., although the band reached the U.K. top 40 five times during the 1964-1965 period. In Fontana’s homeland, “The Game of Love” peaked at #2. The group’s second biggest tune was a 1964 cover of Curtis Mayfield‘s “Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um,” which reached #5.
Fontana went solo in 1965, and scored a few more U.K. hits, the most successful being “Pamela, Pamela,” which peaked at #11.
The Mindbenders continued without Fontana, scoring the #2 U.S. hit “A Groovy Kind of Love.” In 1988, Phil Collins took it to number one in both the U.S. and the U.K.
Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits mourned Fontana’s passing in a message on his Facebook page that reads, “Wayne Wayne don’t go away. After 59 years of friendship, laughter, tears, jail cells and lost brain bells, we have handed over our lovely lead singer Wayne Fontana to the big band in ROCK AND ROLL HEAVEN.”
By Matt Friedlander
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