Cancer claims Darryl Cotton
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Cancer claims Darryl Cotton

Band manager Jeff Joseph had just told an Adelaide scout he wouldn't be looking at any more local bands when he was captivated by a blond-haired singer.

It was 1967 and the singer was Zoot frontman Darryl Cotton, who at 18 already had the glint of a future star.

That spark was the beginning of a career spanning music, television and theatre that lasted until May when Cotton discovered he had liver cancer.

He died yesterday morning, aged 62.

Mr Joseph recalled yesterday the start of Cotton's career and their life-long friendship.

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''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.''

It didn't take long for the band to make its mark with hits like It's About Time.

Zoot split in 1971 but its members continued to influence music locally and overseas.

Guitarist Rick Springfield wrote the smash hit Jessie's Girl, bass player Beeb Birtles founded The Little River Band and lead singer Cotton found success as a solo singer, songwriter and an actor.

Cotton continued to tour Australia with group Cotton, Keays and Morris until his diagnosis.

Springfield said Cotton was the lead singer of the best band he was ever in.

''We were bandmates in our early 20s and good friends in our early 60s,'' he wrote on Facebook.

''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.''

Jim Keays, from Cotton, Keays and Morris, said his friend was youthful and charitable and he was shocked by the speed of his illness and death.

''He was just normal and healthy and one of us, and all of a sudden he's on death's door, it's just something you don't think is going to happen,'' Keays told ABC radio, describing his friend as a non-drinker and non-smoker who lived a frugal lifestyle.

Mr Joseph said Cotton, who regularly visited hospitals as part of his charity work, was loved by all.

''The most important thing would be that Darryl was universally loved. Not liked but loved,'' he said.

After Zoot broke up Cotton moved to the US where he toured with Olivia Newton-John but returned to Australia in 1978.

His song Same Old Girl was a top 10 hit in 1980.

Despite the fame he achieved as a musician and later television star, Mr Joseph said Cotton remained at heart a family man - with wife Cheryl and children Amy and Tim - and a homebody.

His family was at his side when he died. AAP

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