Reality TV star and music producer David Gest died today in London aged 62, his friend Imad Handi said in a statement.
Gest was well known for his touring soul shows – only last year his (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life tour visited Preston Guild Hall.
He was also a frequent visitor to Blackpool.
In Preston, producer Gest introduced Bill Medley, of the legendary Righteous Brothers, on his first-ever UK tour; Sheila Ferguson, the former Three Degrees lead singer; Deniece Williams; The Tymes; Billy Paul; Cece Peniston; Dorothy Moore; Gregory Abbott; Kenny Thomas; and R&B vocal group Atlantic Starr’s Barbara Weathers.
Gest produced the highest-rated musical special in television history, Michael Jackson’s 30th anniversary celebration, the performer’s last concerts at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Gest, a former Celebrity Big Brother star, was married to Liza Minnelli from 2002-2003, but they only officially divorced in 2007.
He was also known for being a close friend of the late Michael Jackson.
The TV personality gained a following in the United Kingdom recently when he appeared on Celebrity Big Brother.
Friend Imad Handi said: “It is with great sadness that I can confirm that David Gest has died today.
“David was truly larger than life. He was not just a huge talent and a dear friend but a showbiz icon.
“I know he will be missed by millions of fans around the world, and particularly in Britain, who came to love his charm and blistering one-liners.
“If I may steal the words of one eminent critic, David was a natural star and a genuine celebrity. I will miss him desperately.”
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “Police were called at 10.17 on Tuesday 12 April to the Four Seasons hotel, in Westferry Circus, E14, to reports of an unexplained death of a man in his 60s. London Ambulance Service were called to the scene. Life was pronounced extinct at the hotel.
“A post-mortem will be held in due course. Next of kin are in the process of being informed.”
Mark Whittle, manager of Preston Business Improvement District, said: “We worked with David to promote his sell-out show at the Guild Hall last year and had the pleasure of having him as our special guest at the ‘Smiles Better Awards’, last June.
He was a pleasure to work with and brought a real excitement to the event. We are saddened to hear the news of his passing.”