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Longthorne was born into a show business family; he has a son named Ricky who was named after an early friend and manager of Joes's, Ricky Hamilton. His parents were both travelling show people. Joe is from a very famous street in Hull, Hessle Road, known for its fishing community. Joe considers himself as a "Hessle Roader", local term in Hull. When he was six, he came first in a talent show and his prize was a toy motor car. At fourteen he landed a part in Yorkshire Television's series Junior Showtime, and remained with the show for over two years. He then turned professional and earned a living in Northern working men's clubs. It was through the London Weekend Television series Search For a Star in 1981 that Longthorne was first launched onto the British televiewing public as a singer and impressionist, and his success on the show led to appearances at the London Palladium and a month long season at London's Talk of the Town.
The following year Longthorne received the Variety Club's award for most promising artiste. In 1985 he was invited to headline a season at the Drury Lane Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. He made a further breakthrough on British television in 1987, starring in Live from the Palladium and Des O'Connor Tonight. Longthorne also released three platinum albums for Telstar, The Joe Longthorne Songbook, Especially For You and The Joe Longthorne Christmas Album. He has even sold out at hotels in Las Vegas. He is well known for his rendition of Dame Shirley Bassey, which is astonishing to hear in person. When Joe mimics a singer, for example Dame Shirley Bassey, his facial expressions change into the character of the artist he is impersonating. It was around the time of his appearance at the Royal Variety Performance in 1989, that he was diagnosed with lymphoma.
After responding to treatment, Longthorne embarked on a tour of Australia. and appeared on The Mike Walsh Show. Longthorne continued performing into the early 1990s with sell-out performances at the Royal Albert Hall, the Sydney Opera House and the London Palladium. His music videos Live in Concert and A Man and His Music were steady sellers in the 1990s, but financial problems from past mismanagement that led him to bankruptcy in the later part of the decade.
His illness degenerated into leukaemia, and he underwent a bone marrow transplant. In 2006, Longthorne performed again at the London Palladium, and in 2007 the Variety Club awarded him their Lifetime Achievement Award, which placed him amongst past recipients such as Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald, Wayne Dobson, Freddie "Parrot Faced" Davies and Gary Wilmot.
In August 2009, Longthorne appeared in a tribute show to Don Black, at the London Palladium.
- Only Once
- The Singer
- Especially For You
- Live at the Royal Albert Hall
- You´re My World
- I Wish You Love
- The Christmas Album
- You and Me
- The Impossible Dream Live Album 2011
- Lady Blue