Heinz Burt was born Heinz Henry George Schwartze in July 1942 in Detmold, Germany, but was brought up in Hampshire in England after the war.
Greatly influenced by American rocker Eddie Cochran, Heinz joined a local Eastleigh group called The Falcons in the 1950s.
Heinz came to the attention of record producer Joe Meek and became his protégé. Meek styled Heinz’s image, which included persuading him to peroxide his hair.
Heinz became the bass player for The Tornados, famous for their multi-million-selling instrumental hit Telstar.
Meek was infatuated with the handsome young musician and tried to launch him on a solo music career, although Heinz’s voice was not great, and the vocals on his first single (Dreams Do Come True) were over-dubbed by a singer called William Halsey. The single was a commercial failure.
His biggest-selling solo hit was Just Like Eddie, a tribute to Eddie Cochran. Heinz didn’t like it. Cochran was his idol, but he considered the song a meagre tribute and would have preferred not to do it. However, the mighty Meek was in charge, and the record even prompted a touching letter from Cochran’s mother thanking Heinz for the thought.
Two successful EPs – Heinz and Live It Up – followed, and in 1964 he appeared in the British music film Live It Up!
A move from Decca to Columbia provided the minor hit Diggin’ My Potatoes (an old number Lonnie Donegan had got from Big Bill Broonzy), but personal differences with Joe Meek ostensibly put paid to Heinz’s career.
Heinz lived briefly in Meek’s flat, and when he moved out, he left some of his possessions behind – including a shotgun which Meek used in 1967 to kill his landlady and then himself.
Heinz worked in pantomime and theatre in the 1970s and later appeared in 1960s rock ‘n’ roll revival shows.
Crippled by motor neuron disease and confined to a wheelchair, Heinz died on 7 April 2000 following a stroke. He was just 57.