Lead singer for the popular 70s and 80’s band Hot Chocolate, Errol Brown, died at age 71 from liver cancer. The singer passed away this morning at his home in the Bahamas.
Phil Dale, Brown’s manager, reported to the Independent that the singer died peacefully, surrounded by his family. Brown and his band were known for the hit singles, “You Sexy Thing” and “Everyone’s A Winner.”
Lester Errol Brown was born on November 12, 1943, in Kingston, Jamaica. Errol moved to the U.K. when he was just 12-years-old, and that is where his music career began. Brown got his first major break in 1969 when he recorded his own version of the popular John Lennon song, “Give Peace A Chance.” He recorded the song with some friends, but was running into difficulty when he tried changing the words to the song. Brown knew that he needed to get Lennon’s approval to change the lyrics, so he sent a copy of the finished version to his record label, Apple, and they got John Lennon’s permission to then release the song.
Hot Chocolate had hits in more than 50 countries worldwide, including the song Brown himself co-wrote, “You Sexy Thing,” which was a top 10 single, and made the charts again in the U.K. when the cult classic film The Full Monty came out in 1997.
In 2003, the Queen made Brown a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE), for all his success in music and outstanding work in the community.
Brown’s longtime friend and manager, Phil Dale, had nothing but wonderful things to say about the singer during a statement he made to the media.
“Everybody uses the word gentleman but he really was a gentleman… He was a very personal friend of mine and he will be missed. I haven’t been anywhere in the world where I haven’t heard his music.
My fondest memory is arriving in Los Angeles and getting in an open-top car to Santa Monica, and the first song that came on the radio was “You Sexy Thing”. We just looked at each other and we roared with laughter, you couldn’t make it up.”
Several artists have paid tribute to the singer on Twitter today, including Nile Rodgers, who wrote, “We had some good times back in the day. #ErrolBrown RIP”
Errol is survived by his wife, Ginette, whom he has been married to for thirty years, and their two daughters, Colette and Leonie.
[Photo courtesy of Patrick Riviere/Getty Images]