Entertainment & Arts

Boney M singer Bobby Farrell dies aged 61

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionBobby Farrell was the only male member of the popular disco four-piece

Bobby Farrell, front man of the 1970s disco group Boney M, has died at the age of 61, his agent has announced.

The singer was found dead in a hotel room in St Petersburg, Russia, where he had been performing, John Seine said.

Farrell, he continued, had complained of breathing problems before and after a show on Wednesday. The cause of his death has yet to be established.

Farrell, the only male member of the popular four-piece, had been due to fly to Rome for a TV show on Friday.

Born Alfonso Farrell in Aruba, the singer left his home on the Caribbean island at 15 to work as a sailor.

He then travelled to Norway and Germany to pursue a career as a DJ.

In 1974 he was chosen to front Boney M, which was put together by German singer and songwriter Frank Farian.

'Quite bizarre'

It was he who performed much of the male vocals on the group's hit records, Farrell being more a dancer and showman than a singer.

Image caption He continued to perform after Boney M disbanded in 1986

Known for his extravagant costumes, Farrell was often seen with a bare torso and tight-fitting bell-bottom pants.

Boney M had their first hit with Daddy Cool in 1976, and scored a UK number one two years later with Rivers of Babylon.

The song sold nearly two million records in Britain alone, where it stayed at the top of the chart for five weeks.

After the group disbanded in 1986 Farrell continued on his own, most recently touring with three female backing singers under the name Bobby Farrell of Boney M.

According to Mr Seine the singer had suffered from "heart problems, shortage of breath and problems with his stomach" for the last decade.

He described his client as "a fantastic person" but also "quite bizarre". "He had a big heart but he was explosive," he said.

Farrell is survived by a son and a daughter.

Your comments

I presented a bouquet to all the members of Boney M when they performed at Deeside Leisure Centre, North Wales. I think it was 1980. I was dressed in a traditional Welsh outfit and would have been about eight-years-old. It is one of my clearest childhood memories. Rachel Moore, Wrexham, Flintshire, UK

I saw Boney M live in Bournemouth in a show called 'Seaside Special'. I was right up close to the stage so when this show was broadcast on TV I could see myself and my mother clearly. It was a good show. My favourite Boney M songs are Rivers of Babylon and Ma Baker. Belinda, Oxford, UK

As a punk I wasn't allowed to admit that I liked Boney M but I loved their slightly surreal take on historical stories and the vocal harmonies were second to none, like the Ramones they had a knowing cartoon-like quality that didn't take itself too seriously. Bobby Farrell's death is a sad loss. Alexander, Hove, UK

I recently bought Boney M's greatest hits and play these songs on my way to work as they make me feel vibrant and alive. My favourite songs are Brown Girl in the Ring and Rasputin. I was at secondary school in the late 70s when Boney M took off - a great pop group. RIP Bobby! Amanda Sparkle, Dartford, Kent, UK

I loved Boney M. My first record when I was seven-years-old was Belfast. I still love that song. Boney M were part of my young life and so I still love for them - they can really sing brilliantly. I never met any of the Boney M members - but I really will think about this loss as part of a loss of my younger years. Andy McDonald, Edinburgh, UK

I've been a fan since I was a child. All of my Boney M was on vinyl until my wife bought me the Boney M greatest hits CD for Christmas - we've been listening to it since. Our three-year-old kids have been having a good boogie to it. A sad day - may he rest in peace forever by the Rivers of Babylon. Simon Manley, Welwyn Garden City, UK

Bobby was a character who will be remembered for his on-stage antics and husky voice - a member of Boney M, one of the greatest disco bands of all time that just kept on going unlike many others who came and went. I loved all their hits but Ma Baker always stands out for me. You can hear Ma Baker today in Poker Face by Lady Gaga showing how much Boney M has inspired dance music over the years. RIP Bobby and a BIG thank you for a great contribution to humanity. Gary G, Northampton, UK

Bobby Farrell helped provide the soundtrack to my childhood. One of Boney M's most memorable songs was about Rasputin. Isn't it weird that both Rasputin and Bobby died in St Petersburg, and on 29 December? May he rest in peace. Marian Korzeniowski, Morecambe, Lancashire, UK

There are so many great songs by Boney M and so many great memories. I saw Bobby Farrell in 2005 and he was a brilliant show man. My loveliest memory is of him singing(unaccompanied live) a rendition of No Woman, No Cry - he sang and the crowd chanted back to him - a really nice man too. John Healy, Dublin, Ireland

This is very sad news indeed. My wife and I got hooked on Boney M in 1975 and we have been listening to their music ever since. In fact we were listening to their Daddy Cool CD last night. For my wife, Rivers of Babylon is definitely the best Boney M song and she has that song as her ring tone on her mobile phone. Ebenezer Obeng and Ama Asare, Virginia Beach, USA

I have fond memories of listening to Boney M as a kid in India. Boney M was a hot favourite in my country in those days and we would never tire of listening to their hit songs over and over again. Who can forget such hits as by the Rivers of Babylon, Oceans of Fantasy and Boonoonoonoos? We even sang some of these songs in the school choir. Recently, I was surprised to hear the songs of Boney M playing in some shopping malls in Montreal. Well, it's a small world. I am truly saddened to learn about the death of Bobby Farrell. Deepanjan, Montreal, Canada

I remember listening to Boney M a lot as a teenager growing up in Port Moresby in the early 80s. I particularly liked their song El Lute and was always impressed with their odd costumes. Thanks for the music Bobby - would have loved to have met you or seen Boney M play live. You will be missed! Ian Taukuro, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

What a loss! Bobby Farrell was a charming artist with great vocals and intricate dance steps. I was one of his great admirers and find it so hard to believe the news. I loved Boney M songs like Daddy Cool, By the Rivers of Babylon, Hooray Hooray its a Holi-Holiday and Felicidad. I never physically met Bobby Farrell and I will never now that he is gone but he was great a performer. He will forever live in our minds and in his songs that have immortalised him. Bobby RIP. Ochieng' Ogodo, Nairobi, Kenya

I saw Boney M perform at the Twin Towns Club on the Gold Coast in New South Wales, Australia in 1999 Boney M was very popular during my time in Oman in 1978. Robert Hogg, Coomera, Australia

I'm absolutely disheartened and devastated by the news. He was an embodiment of a true male disco artist! Joseph Bizumo, Warsaw, Poland

There were really so many good songs but Sunny always lifted my spirits. I have a pain in my heart right now. We grew up on Boney M songs, so many happy memories. R.I.P Bobby, you will never be forgotten. David Williams, Melbourne, Australia

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites