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Hot Chocolate's Errol Brown dies of liver cancer aged 71

By Cathal Milmo

Published 07/05/2015

Errol Brown playing with Hot Chocolate just a few days ago at Vicar Street in Dublin
Errol Brown playing with Hot Chocolate just a few days ago at Vicar Street in Dublin
Errol Brown’s heyday in 1975

Errol Brown, the singer who as the ultra-smooth frontman of Hot Chocolate became one of Britain's most successful musicians, has died from liver cancer. He was 71.

The Jamaica-born pop star, who lived in Britain from the age of 11 and owed his big break to John Lennon before going on to score hits for three decades, died at home with his family in the Bahamas.

His manager, Phil Dale, said that Brown, who was perhaps best known for Hot Chocolate's oft-repeated soul anthem You Sexy Thing, had never lost his energy for song writing. In a statement announcing Brown's death, Mr Dale said: "There was always music, wherever he was."

As the shaven-headed lead singer of Hot Chocolate, Brown and his colleagues had hits in more than 50 countries worldwide. Hot Chocolate was one of just three acts that scored a hit in the UK charts in every year of the 1970s.

With their irresistible bass lines and seductive vocals, the band were the uncontested disco kings of the 1970s and 1980s and rose from obscurity to eventually play at Buckingham Palace at the wedding party for Prince Charles and Lady Diana.

The singer and his fellow performers were discovered in the late 1960s when they produced a reggae version of Lennon's Give Peace a Chance" A producer, concerned that the song had modified the Beatle's lyrics, sent a copy to the Fab Four's Apple records asking for permission for the new track. Lennon heard it by accident and approved to the extent that he decided to release the record himself.

When Apple folded shortly afterwards, Hot Chocolate began a long association with the producer Mickie Most, who helped deliver the group a succession of hits, including It Started With a Kiss and Everyone's a Winner.

Brown left Hot Chocolate in 1986 and settled down to enjoy his success with his wife and two daughters, buying a mansion in Surrey, owning three racehorses and becoming an avid bridge player.

After a less-than-stellar solo career, Brown and his former bandmates enjoyed a revival when You Sexy Thing featured in The Full Monty.

 

"There was always music around wherever he was. I've been with him in the middle of Australia and he has got an idea for a song and started writing. Errol was a lover of life and obviously music.

"I never went into his home, car or a hotel room without music playing."

- Errol's manager Phil Dale

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