by Kory Grow
Singer Errol Brown, who fronted the pop and disco group Hot Chocolate from the late Sixties through the early Eighties, has died. He co-wrote and sang the 1975 hit “You Sexy Thing,” which got a second life from placement in The Full Monty, and 1973 single “Brother Louie,” which serves as the theme song for TV’s Louie. The Jamaican-British musician had been suffering from liver cancer and died in his home in the Bahamas with his wife, Ginette, and daughters, Colette and Leonie, by his side, according to the BBC. He was 71.
Brown, who was born in Jamaica, moved to the U.K. with his mother when he was 12. Along with some friends, he began his music career by sending a reggae version of “Give Peace a Chance” to John Lennon in 1969. The Beatle liked what he heard and signed Hot Chocolate to Apple.
The BBC reports that Hot Chocolate were the only group to have a hit single for 15 years, landing on the British charts every year between 1970 and 1984. The group’s Top 10 U.K. hits include “So You Win Again” (Number One, 1977), “No Doubt About It” (Number Two, 1980) and “It Started With a Kiss” (Number Five, 1982), among others, as well as “You Sexy Thing” and “Brother Louie,” which both crossed over into the U.S. charts.
Hot Chocolate’s other U.S. Top 10 hits include “Emma" and "Every 1’s a Winner.” Around the peak of their fame, Hot Chocolate performed at a pre-wedding party for Prince Charles and Lady Diana in Buckingham Palace, according to The New York Times.
Brown quit the group in 1985, to dedicate himself to his family, but later did two solo tours in the U.K. in the Nineties. He carried out a farewell tour in 2009, telling the BBC he’d “done all [he] wanted to do.”
“Errol was a lover of life and obviously ‘music,’” Brown’s manager, Phil Dale, wrote in a statement. “I never went into his home, car or a hotel room without music playing…. His greatest legacy is that his music will live on.”
Queen Elizabeth II made Brown a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2003. He received an Ivor Novello award the following year, according to the BBC, for his outstanding contribution to the country’s music.