The retired builder who inspired playwright Jez Butterworth's main character in hit play Jerusalem has passed away at the age of 73.

Heavy drinker Micky Lay collapsed from a heart attack and died outside the Moonrakers village pub in Pewsey, England last week (ends27Dec13) as he waited for the doors of the establishment to open.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Butterworth based the character of Johnny 'Rooster' Byron, an eccentric - and often drunk - storyteller who faces eviction, on Lay after meeting him in Pewsey in the 1990s.

British actor Mark Rylance brought Byron to life in the West End in 2009 and again on Broadway in 2011, winning rave reviews and critical acclaim for the role. He also picked up a Tony Award for Best Actor, which the actor handed to Lay.