Errol Brown, the British soul singer/songwriter best known as the frontman of ’70s hit makers Hot Chocolate, has died. The BBC reports Brown’s manager confirming that the Ivor Novello Award winner, suffering from liver cancer, had died at home in the Bahamas. He was 71.
After moving from Jamaica to the U.K. as a 12-year-old, Brown found success in England in his 20s as the co-founder of pop-leaning R&B group Hot Chocolate. The group had a string of British hits through the early ’70s — including the original version of “Brother Louie,” later a number-one hit for American band Stories (and more recently, the theme to the FX comedy series Louie) — before striking international pay dirt in the mid-’70s with the crossover smashes “Emma” and “You Sexy Thing.”
The latter is probably Brown’s best-remembered performance, the yelping incredulity of his octave-scaling vocals helping to make the song unique and unforgettable in its awed testimony. “You Sexy Thing” has endured as a definitive document of ’70s pop-funk, a wedding staple and a key musical cue in movies like The Full Monty, Boogie Nights and Dude, Where’s My Car? to name a few.
Hot Chocolate would continue to spin off slinky, infectious hits on both sides of the Atlantic (“So You Win Again,” “Every 1’s a Winner”) for the rest of the decade and stayed popular in their home country well into the ’80s (“Girl Crazy,” “It Started With a Kiss”). Brown embarked upon a solo career in the mid-’80s, earning minor success with his first few solo singles, though his two best-charting U.K. hits of the last 30 years were both reissues of his definitive hit, “You Sexy Thing.”
“I lost my friend today,” tweeted Hot Chocolate manager Phil Dale earlier today. “It was a joy being his Manager and his legacy is his music which will live on. RIP Errol Brown.” Watch clips of some of Brown’s greatest jams below.