Errol Brown, the lead singer and songwriter of the band Hot Chocolate, has died in the Bahamas, his manager said Wednesday. He was 71.
Manager Phil Dale said the singer, best known for hits "You Sexy Thing," "It Started With a Kiss" and “Brother Louie,” died Wednesday of liver cancer.
Brown was “an intriguing singer who alternates between suggestive come-on (‘You Sexy Thing’) and socioreligious pep talks (‘Every 1’s a Winner’),” Los Angeles Times pop critic Robert Hilburn said in 1983.
Brown’s death came as a surprise, Dale said. He “had been poorly over the past few months but he never discussed it,” Dale said. “He'd be sadly missed by his friends and family. He was an extremely good personal friend.”
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Brown moved to Britain to live with his mother at age 12.
Brown was in his early 20s when Hot Chocolate formed. He’d been looking for a hobby to supplement his boring civil service job, and he turned to music.
“I accidentally met someone who was a songwriter and we started writing songs together,” Brown told the L.A. Times in 1979. When Hot Chocolate began, he said, “we weren’t aiming for great heights. We were just looking for some small-time local music center.”
The band soon found success, with its biggest accolades in Europe. It released its first record, "Love Is Life," in 1970 and enjoyed numerous hits that decade. In 1981, it played at a pre-wedding party for Prince Charles and Lady Diana in Buckingham Palace.
Brown split from the band in the mid-1980s, and although he did some solo work and later reunited with Hot Chocolate, he said he did not find it hard to dial down his career.
"When I was writing ‘Sexy Thing,’ I was in clubs until 4 a.m.; that was my life,” he told London’s Daily Telegraph in 2009. “Once I got married and had my children, I left the life. That's why I can walk away from this. I don't have to be looking for love. When you play to 100,000 people and you come off stage and there's nobody there for you, that's the saddest day of your life.”
In 2003, Brown was honored by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to pop music and was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire.
He is survived by his wife, Ginette, and two daughters.
Times staff writer Lauren Raab contributed to this report.