He would pack out pubs across Oldham, send crowds wild as he danced and had everyone cheering his name.

For generations, Wayne Bentley was loved as one of the finest entertainers in town.

Right through to the pandemic, 'Mr Loveboat' was the best booking an Oldham pub could make to guarantee a busy night.

READ MORE: 'It’s about time, you need a PhD to understand Manchester buses': What £1.55 single fare could mean to commuters

As a showman with lively performances, he was adored in the borough he had called home for decades, having previously moved north from his native South Wales.

Wayne sadly died last week following a battle with illness, leaving behind scores of joyful memories for the publicans and punters who would dance the night away to Mr Loveboat's music.

Wayne performed in many pubs in and around Oldham
Wayne performed in many pubs in and around Oldham

"The minute he was available we would grab him," said Janine Newton, 49, landlady at the Hunt Lane Tavern, on Middleton Road.

"He would literally fill the place. He was rarely ever available. He really knew how to get the crowd going.

"He used to come with different outfits because he performed so well and so hard. He would go in the back and get changed looking absolutely shattered - then come straight back out looking like an 18-year-old.

"My assistant manager found him in the back once with his pants down as he was getting changed - we said he needed an out-of-order sign on the door.

"I never, ever heard a single bad word about him, he was lovely. He was such a really nice, genuine, gentle, kind person. He's a massive loss to Oldham."

Former Hunt Lane Tavern landlord David Newton, 55, added: "We used to have to put extra staff on when he was on.

"He was a showman - a big showman. He was amazing. It's such a shame."

Wayne spent 60 years in showbusiness, having started in the band Wayne and the Comets, before going solo.

He was a regular fixture on the bill in pubs across town, while some lucky Oldhamers even booked him for birthdays and special occasions.

As the years went on, Wayne would continue to update his act, performing hits from the likes of Ed Sheeran and Rag n' Bone Man as well as old favourites.

At the Spring Vale Inn, near Chadderton Mall, landlord Iain Ward recalls fond memories of Mr Loveboat having known him for 30 years.

"He was one of the best entertainers in Oldham by far," said Iain, 42.

"The place would be jam packed - absolutely jam packed. They were the busiest nights of the year when he was on.

"He would get everyone up dancing, whichever pub he was in. He was always dancing.

"He was such a nice guy, he would do anything for you. A gentleman."

Spring Vale Inn punter Eddie Irlam, 84, was impressed by Wayne's longevity - even though the music was 'not his cup of tea'.

'Mr Loveboat' is fondly remembered by publicans and punters
'Mr Loveboat' is fondly remembered by publicans and punters

"I'm going back years when I saw him - and I mean years," Eddie said.

"All the ladies loved him. You could guarantee a decent attendance when he was on anywhere."

Wayne went on to release two studio albums, This is My Life and We’re in This Love Together, which were both popular in Oldham.

He built up a loyal following of fans who would travel to whichever venue he was playing.

Tony Nichol, landlord at The Dog Inn near Freehold tram stop, says his pub was one of Wayne's favourites - and it was always 'absolutely jammed' when he would perform.

"We had coachloads that would turn up," said Tony, 48.

"And even if people were saying 'oh no, not Wayne Bentley again' they would still be up dancing later on.

"He used to get told off for interrupting the jukebox with his soundchecks.

Keep up to date with the top stories on life in and around Oldham with the new free email newsletter from MyOldham.

The MyOldham newsletter will go out weekly with a selection of our most popular articles, including the latest on the coronavirus pandemic and how Oldham is dealing with lockdown.

Follow this link and select My Oldham News. We have many other newsletters that may interest you as well.

"But he always gave a full performance. He did a bit extra when he had a really good crowd going as well. Everyone knew who he was - all age groups."

Wayne was well-loved all over Oldham, from Saddleworth to Failsworth, and in the days following his death an outpouring of tributes flowed from pubs and punters on social media.

Quentin Cartwright owns a number of pubs that would host Wayne's shows - The Angel Inn in Royton, The Rightful Range and The Dog Inn in Chadderton, and The Weavers Arms on Huddersfield Road.

Along with his wife Tracy and her mum Margaret - who would send Wayne his first Christmas card every year - he became close friends with the singer.

"He was just a genuine, nice person, and good company," said Quentin.

"We used to have him every bank holiday Sunday at The Dog Inn because we knew he would get all the customers in with people not working on the Monday. It was always one of the busiest days of the year for us, always full.

"There was always a great atmosphere, people would get up and dance and he would often have somebody up to sing a song with him."

Quentin recalls one of the most popular of Wayne's renditions being a cover of So Young by The Corrs.

Andrew Brown would frequently see Mr Loveboat's shows in Middleton
Andrew Brown would frequently see Mr Loveboat's shows in Middleton

He added: "That was a popular one because everyone used to shout 'go Wayne Bentley' as he would thrust about - not in a crude way, but in a fun and entertaining way'.

While Wayne was best known in Oldham, he also performed in neighbouring areas of Greater Manchester, such as Middleton.

Andrew Brown, 42, has fond memories of seeing Wayne perform at the Radclyffe Arms, on Grimshaw Lane.

He said: "He was a legend. He was once late for a gig because he’d fallen asleep.

"He was properly loved. Such a character.

"He used to do this crazy spin and we all used to cheer when he did it and shout 'go Wayne Bentley, go Wayne Bentley' at him. He was solid gold entertainment."

Wayne died on Friday, September 17, surrounded by both his family and his music - friend and booking manager Mal McAndrew announced on Facebook.

But across Oldham and beyond, his music and energetic performances will live long in the memory.

The Dog Inn will be hosting a charity fundraiser in Wayne's memory, featuring recorded music from Mr Loveboat and live performances from other acts, from 1pm until 11pm on October 31. See the event on Facebook for more details.