Entertainment & Arts

Errol Brown, Hot Chocolate singer, dies aged 71

Errol Brown
Image caption Brown went on a farewell tour in 2009

Hot Chocolate lead singer Errol Brown has died aged 71, his manager has said.

Brown had liver cancer and died at his home in the Bahamas, said Phil Dale.

Hot Chocolate had hits in more than 50 countries worldwide, including You Sexy Thing - which Brown co-wrote - It Started with a Kiss and Every 1's a Winner.

Brown was made an MBE by the Queen in 2003 and received an Ivor Novello award for his outstanding contribution to British music in 2004.

You Sexy Thing, Hot Chocolate's best-known hit and a top 10 single in the 1970s and '80s, charted again in the UK when it was featured in The Full Monty in 1997.

Media captionArchive: Errol Brown performed You Sexy Thing on Top Of The Pops in 1997

A statement from Brown's manager on Wednesday confirmed the singer's death.

"Errol Brown MBE passed away in The Bahamas this morning with his wife Ginette and daughters Colette and Leonie by his side of liver cancer," he said.

"Errol was a lover of life and obviously 'music!' I never went into his home, car or a hotel room without music playing.

"Errol was a 'Gentle Man' and was a personal friend of mine who will be sadly missed by everyone who knew him," Phil Dale continued.

"His greatest legacy is that his music will live on!"

Fellow artists including Chic's Nile Rodgers have paid tribute on Twitter.

Rodgers wrote: "We had some good times back in the day. #ErrolBrown RIP".

Singer Beverley Knight tweeted: "I am so gutted. Errol Brown was such a charismatic performer."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Brown with his wife Ginette after receiving an MBE for services to pop music in 2003

Brown was born in Jamaica but moved to the UK with his mother when he was 12.

His musical career began in 1969 when he and some friends sent their own reggae version of Give Peace a Chance to its writer John Lennon.

"We all laughed about it," Brown told BBC Breakfast in 2009.

"Amazingly, a week later I got a call to say John Lennon approved it and wanted to sign the band to the Apple record label - and that's how we began."

Brown said they were originally named by a girl working at the record company as The Hot Chocolate Band, which was later shortened.

Late record producer and hitmaker Mickie Most signed up Brown and his friend Tony Wilson as songwriters towards the end of 1969, championing Brown's writing and singing.

He recorded their songs with Mary Hopkin, Julie Felix and Herman's Hermits.

Hot Chocolate released their first single Love is Life in 1970 and the song went to number six in the charts.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Hot Chocolate played at Charles and Diana's pre-wedding reception at Buckingham Palace

The group had at least one hit every year between 1970 and 1984, making Hot Chocolate the only group in the UK to have a hit for 15 consecutive years.

In 1985, Brown left the band to spend more time with his family. But he made a comeback in the 1990s with two solo UK tours.

Farewell tour

Brown embarked on a farewell tour in 2009, telling BBC Breakfast he had "done all [he] wanted to do".

"I'm getting a little older now, you know," he went on. "It's hard to pack the suitcase and get back on the road again.

"But the music will be there, so that won't go away."

In a message on his website after the tour, he thanked fans for coming out in large numbers to show their love and support.

"The atmosphere at the concerts were the best ever," he wrote, "and you played your part in making me realise just how wrong it would have been to have just drifted away and not say goodbye.

"The love I felt at each concert will stay in my heart forever."

Media captionFormer Hot Chocolate saxophonist John Altman described Errol Brown as "the definition of a nice guy"

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