Actor and pop star Adam Faith has died from a heart attack at the age of 62.

He was taken ill at a hotel in Stoke-on-Trent after Friday night's performance of Love and Marriage at the city's Regent Theatre.

Faith, who spent long spells living in Sussex, was due to star in the play when it opens at the Theatre Royal in Brighton on Monday.

He was taken to a hospital in Stoke where doctors fought in vain to resuscitate the actor who had a history of heart trouble, his agent Alan Field said.

Close friends were stunned by his sudden death.

David Courtney, who said he and Faith were "like brothers", was one of the first to hear of the entertainer's fatal heart attack.

He said: "It's terrible news. I've lost a best friend, but the world has lost a very interesting and unique man who had a very broad career entertaining people."

Mr Courtney and Faith's agent made desperate attempts to contact his wife Jackie and daughter Katya before news of the death reached the media.

Mr Courtney said: "We just about managed it, but it wasn't easy. There has been a huge interest from the media, because of who he was.

"More than anything, we now want people to celebrate his life and his achievements."

Faith was a familiar face in Brighton and made several appearances at the Theatre Royal, which he saw as among his favourite venues.

Julian Boast, the theatre's chief executive, said this week's performances of Love and Marriage would probably go ahead.

But he said: "It is more important at the moment to reflect on Adam Faith's life. We are very saddened to hear of his death and would like to offer our condolences to his family."

Faith used to live at Crowhurst Place, Hartfield, Crowborough and Henfield.

He almost died in 1973 at Cowfold, near Horsham, when he crashed his car into a tree.

He nearly lost a leg, was unconscious for a week and spent a fortnight in Crawley Hospital with a broken leg, arm and chest injuries.

Faith later described the accident as a turning point in his life.

He made an emotional return visit to the hospital 21 years later while appearing in Alfie at Crawley's Hawth Theatre.

Faith was one of the first 100 celebrities with links to Brighton to be commemorated on the Walk of Fame, unveiled last November.

Mr Courtney, who organised the Walk of Fame, said: "We were due to be getting together again this week.

"He was really looking forward to returning to Brighton - he always saw it as his second home.

"He had a lot to offer. He was in the best spirits he'd been in for ten years. He went out happy."

The pair became friends 37 years ago when Mr Courtney played drums for Faith's backing band.

They linked up in a series of business ventures, including music management.

The duo discovered Shoreham-born Leo Sayer and helped mastermind his rise to the top of the pop charts in the late-Seventies.

Mr Courtney added: "37 years is a long time to know someone - 37 years of friendship and working together. We were like brothers.

"I have so many fond memories of him - we had so much history together."

Faith was born as Terry Nelhams in June 1940 on a council estate in Acton, west London.

After adopting the stage name Adam Faith in the late-Fifties, he had a series of hits including chart-toppers What Do You Want and Poor Me.

He was one of Britain's biggest stars and was regularly mobbed by teenyboppers.

In an interview with The Argus published on Friday, Faith said: "It was a great feeling. For a 19-year-old kid coming out of a council flat, hearing 2,000 girls scream at you is not bad at all."

During the Sixties he launched his acting career, featuring in films Beat Me and Mix Me A Person.

He starred as the hero in Seventies TV series Budgie, written by Keith Waterhouse, but went into semi-retirement after his 1973 car crash.

He launched a comeback in 1975 when he played a rock star manager in the film Stardust alongside David Essex.

He became a financial investments advisor in the Eighties and wrote a regular financial column for the Daily Mail and then the Mail On Sunday.

In 1991 he took on more theatre work and starred alongside Zoe Wanamaker in the BBC drama series Love Hurts.

He was behind the development of digital television's The Money Channel in 1999 but the venture ran into difficulties and he was declared bankrupt last year.

He was due to appear early next year in a new season of the BBC's Murder In Mind television films, alongside Jamie Theakston and Helen Baxendale.

When asked by The Argus in 1992 what he would like for an epitaph, Faith said: "Don't feel any need for one.

"You come, you linger and you go. There's nothing more to life."

The following year he revealed how his health problems had made him determined to make the most of life.

He said: "If my life has taught me anything it's that if you wake up in the morning and can breathe, everything else that day is a bonus."