By Brian Mansfield | Gannett News Service
Hot Chocolate singer Errol Brown, best known for the 1975 international smash “You Sexy Thing,” died Wednesday of liver cancer. He was 71.
Brown’s manager, Phil Dale, told the BBC that the Jamaica-born singer died at his home in the Bahamas.
Though “You Sexy Thing” has proved the most enduring Hot Chocolate hit, the group had five top-40 pop hits between 1975 and 1979. Three of those — 1975’s “Emma,” “You Sexy Thing” and 1978’s “Every 1’s a Winner” — reached the top 10.
“Everybody uses the word gentleman, but he really was a gentleman,” Dale told The Independent. “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.”
Hot Chocolate recorded its first single, a reggae-infused cover of John Lennon’s Give Peace a Chance, for the Beatles’ Apple Records. Brown also penned “Brother Louie,” a song about interracial romance that was a hit for the Stories in 1973.
Though Hot Chocolate’s U.S. hits came during the latter half of the ’70s, the band continued to have hits in Great Britain and other parts of the world well into the ’80s.
“Despite writing ‘Brother Louie,’ Hot Chocolate’s Errol Brown never exhibited much ambition beyond having his music heard and sold,” Dave Marsh wrote in his book “The Heart of Rock & Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made,” where “Every 1’s a Winner” ranked No. 982. “But that proved goal enough to make his multiracial, reggae-influenced ground Britain’s best trash singles act.”
In 2003, Brown received a Member of the Order of the British Empire appointment for his services to popular music in the U.K. He received an Ivor Novello Award for his musical contributions in 2004. He is survived by a wife and two daughters.