Hot Chocolate lead singer Errol Brown has passed at the age of 71 after battling liver cancer; his manager has issued a statement Wednesday, May 6.
Hot Chocolate’s claim to fame included hits such as “Emma,” “Every 1’s a Winner” and “You Sexy Thing” which he co-wrote and was released in the 1970s. Their group had hits in more than 50 countries worldwide.
The singer passed away at his home in the Bahamas, with his wife Ginette and daughters Colette and Leonie by his side, manager Phil Dale said, who fondly refers to him as a “gentle man.”
“Errol was a lover of life and obviously ‘music!’ I never went into his home, car or a hotel room without music playing,” Dale said in a statement. The musician was always listening and appreciating music, “And it always played constantly in his dressing room before a concert,” he added.
Called the “accidental superstar”, Brown, did not count on becoming the pop superstar that he became, as he disclosed in a Telegraph interview that he never grew up wanting to be a pop star.” I never grew up interested in performing music at all,” he said.
He was born in Jamaica, and migrated to England at the age of 12. Raised by a Jamaican single mom, he lived most of his life in obscurity before joining the pop group Hot Chocolate as its lead singer. The band started out as a bunch of unknown music players of mostly African descent before the global hit ” You Sexy Thing” won over the airwaves.
“You Sexy Thing” gained notoriety again when it was featured in the 1997 British film “The Full Monty” about six unemployed men who formed a striptease act. The song served as the accompaniment to their finale act.
His other hit, the deeply moving “Emma”, was written over the sudden death of his mom at the young age of 38. Brown was 20 then, and his mother continued to influence his creative and personal life long after she had passed.
After settling with a family of his own, he moved to the Bahamas; a tropical paradise. He was very much happy to perform and hadn’t written another song. He also owned race track horses, but ironically, he refused to bet more than 100 pounds on each.
Brown said that happy, settled musicians don’t make good pop music writers, as reported in an interview by Huffington Post; referring to the same way that content poets don’t make affective poems about pain and heartbreak. He said the artist’s life and experience regarding sorrow and suffering should be reflected in his art, and in his case, his happiness affected his writing to a certain degree; such that he could no longer create music that centered on negative experiences.
Brown was made MBE (Member of the British Empire) by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth in 2003 for his services to popular music. A year later, he received an Ivor Novello award for outstanding contribution to British music.
The music icon found the superstardom and fame of the 80’s easy to let go of though. Living a comfortable life didn’t inspire him to create music which, according to him, is usually driven by heartbreak and suffering. He added that disengaging himself from the act of performing to a crowd of thousands and coming back to an empty hotel room was a sad facet of a performer’s life he was not too fond of.
Acknowledged as a devoted husband and loving father by his family and friends, Brown opted to live in relative peace; only leaving his island home for select performances.
Unlike other stars who chose the glitz and glamor of a celebrity life, he consciously chose a quiet, unhindered civilian life free of the complications of media frenzy and expressed no regret or rancour over it.
Let’s enjoy this throwback: