Guitarist Kevin Neill, who played on sixties hits by the Karl Denver Trio, has died at his Blackley home.

The 78-year-old, who was suffering from motor neurone disease, made his final appearance on stage – as a member of The Bachelors – last August. Born in Miles Platting and a pupil at St Gregory’s School in Ardwick, Kevin, pictured below, earned 10 shillings (50p) for his first gig, playing guitar with the east Manchester-based Reg Goodwin Orchestra in 1946.

He accompanied the big stars of the 1950s, including Johnny Ray, Frankie Laine, Max Bygraves and Anthony Newley, and also played with the Joe Loss Orchestra and BBC Northern Dance Orchestra.

He then met Scottish singer Karl Denver, who was poised to hit the big time in 1961, along with bassist Gerry Cottrell.

They had regularly packed the Yew Tree pub in Wythenshawe and when Kevin joined them they were signed to the Decca record label by leading producer Jack Good.

They had a dozen 1960s chart appearances including their most famous song Wimoweh, plus Marcheta, Mexicali Rose, Still and Never Goodbye.

Kevin knew many pop artists of the day including The Beatles, whose first radio appearance was on the trio’s Side By Side show on the BBC.

In 1979, he quit the group and, for more than a decade, he was involved in helping to produce the TV game show Catchphrase.

The programme’s host, Roy Walker, said: "As a friend and colleague, he was supportive, wise and thoughtful. His death is a huge loss."

In the 1990s, Kevin joined a breakaway version of The Bachelors and toured internationally before retiring last summer because of ill health.

He leaves wife, Claire, and daughters, Beverley and Lorraine.

His son-in-law Mark Ruthven, 51, said: "Kevin was a proud man and a great family man.

"Kevin was a smashing bloke and everyone loved him. He will be greatly missed. He was a king and a genuine person who would help anyone."