Darryl Cotton was a founding member of Australian rock group Zoot in the late ’60s, where he played with Beeb Birtles and Rick Springfield.

Darryl Cotton was a founding member of Australian rock group Zoot in the late ’60s, where he played with Beeb Birtles and Rick Springfield. Photo: Leanne Pickett

Pop star, actor and TV host Darryl Cotton has lost his battle with liver cancer.

Cotton, 62, died in Melbourne early today. He was diagnosed in May.

Darryl was much loved and highly respected by men and women alike, both in and out of the entertainment industry. 

Friend and former manager Jeff Joseph says the singer fought his condition bravely.

Darryl Cotton with Zoot.

Darryl Cotton with Zoot.

‘‘He was philosophical from the outset when told of his condition, but was determined to fight it until the very end and maintained a very positive attitude,’’ Mr Joseph said.

A founding member of Australian rock group Zoot in the late ’60s, where he played with Beeb Birtles and Rick Springfield among others, Cotton headed to Los Angeles when the band broke up.

There he wrote songs for artists including Olivia Newton-John and Shaun Cassidy, before returning to Australia in 1978 to pursue a solo career.

His song Same Old Girl was a Top Ten hit in 1980 before he ventured into acting with a role on the TV soap The Young Doctors. He went on to co-host Saturday morning children’s program The Early Bird Show on Channel Ten in the 1980s.

When Mr Joseph first spotted the blond-haired singer in 1967, he told an Adelaide scout he wouldn’t be looking at any more local bands. He was captivated by the singer who already had the glint of a future star.  

That spark was the beginning of a career spanning music, television and theatre.

 ‘‘There was a certain amount of rawness but there was potential,’’ Mr Joseph said.

‘‘A whole pop evolution was evolving from this group.‘‘He was in the true sense of the word a pop star.

’’Cotton’s illness brought an outpouring of support from well-wishers internationally.

‘‘Darryl was much loved and highly respected by men and women alike, both in and out of the entertainment industry,’’ Mr Joseph said.

Darryl Cotton leaves a wife Cheryl and two children Amy and Tim.

Friend and bandmate Jim Keays paid tribute to  Cotton. The pair, along with Russell Morris, had played for the past 12 years in the band Cotton, Keays and Morris.

Keays told ABC Radio that of the three, he thought Cotton would be the last to go. He said he was shocked by the speed of his friend’s demise and described him as youthful and charitable.

He said he and Morris would continue to play. ‘‘We’ll just go on, and play a couple of songs in his honour,’’ he said.

Celebrities and friends paid tribute to Cotton on social media websites.

Zoot bandmate Rick Springfield, who saw Cotton last week, said goodbye to his friend on his Facebook page.

‘‘We were bandmates in our early 20s and good friends in our early 60s,’’ he wrote.

‘‘Darryl Cotton, lead singer of the best band I was ever in, passed away this morning ...  He now knows what we all want to know. Bless your great spirit my friend. Keep a spot in the band for me up there. All my love to your great life and your beautiful family.’’

Singer David Campbell tweeted: ‘‘Great Australian entertainer. Great bloke’’.

Some fans reminisced about the part Cotton had played in their teenage years with Zoot while others fondly recalled childhood moments spent glued to The Early Bird Show.

‘‘RIP Darryl Cotton and condolences to his family — A (sic) lot of good childhood memories are held with you & Marty Monster xo,’’ tweeted one.

‘‘Zoot was my first band I connected with ... I still have [replies to] fan letters ... and scrapbooks jam packed with memories,’’ wrote another.

AAP with Mex Cooper