Hot Chocolate singer Errol Brown dies, aged 71

Errol Brown

The singer died at home in the Bahamas. He had been suffering from liver cancer

Hot Chocolate frontman Errol Brown has died, aged 71. His manager, Phil Dale, said the singer had been suffering from liver cancer. He died at home in the Bahamas.

Hot Chocolate has hits over nearly 30 years – Love Is Life reached No 6 in 1970, and a remix of You Sexy Thing reached No 6 in 1997 – but were most popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when the distinctively bald Brown was a regular on Top of the Pops.

“There was always music around wherever he was,” Dale said. “I’ve been with him in the middle of Australia and he has got an idea for a song and started writing.”

Brown was born in Jamaica and moved to Britain with his mother when he was 12. Hot Chocolate were initially signed to the Beatles’ Apple label, after John Lennon heard their reggae version of Give Peace a Chance – recorded when Brown was 21 – and liked it.

Hot Chocolate – You Sexy Thing

The hits began, though, when the group teamed up with the producer Mickie Most at Rak Records in 1970, and they had a top 20 hit every year from then until 1984. Though songs such as You Sexy Thing and Every 1’s a Winner became staples of British pop, the group’s only No 1 was 1977’s So You Win Again.

Their career was revived in 1997, when You Sexy Thing was featured in the hit movie The Full Monty. It was the only song to be a top 10 hit in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

In the early 80s, Brown also became known as that rare thing: a pop musician who was publicly and proudly Tory. While Margaret Thatcher was prime minister he appeared at the Conservative party conference and treated delegates to a rendition of John Lennon’s Imagine.

After Hot Chocolate split in 1986, Brown began a solo career that never matched the success of the band. However, he was recognised for his career in music, being awarded the MBE in 2003 and an Ivor Novello award for his contribution to music in 2004.

Many musicians paid tribute to the singer, some expected, some less likely. Beverley Knight said: “I am so gutted. Errol Brown was such a charismatic performer.” Bernard Butler noted the studio artistry of the Hot Chocolate records.

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