Errol Brown remembered for Wigan links

Errol Brown with his wife Ginette after receiving an MBE

Errol Brown with his wife Ginette after receiving an MBE

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THOUSANDS of tributes have been paid to Hot Chocolate frontman Errol Brown after his death was announced.

But how many of the obituaries will mention the time he seems to have spent in Wigan?

One day I went to the newsagents shop in Goose Green and who was there but Errol Brown. He was 6ft tall and had a shaven head. I didn’t have the courage to speak to him.

Kathleen Broom

The singer, famous for hits including You Sexy Thing and It Started With A Kiss, died at home in the Bahamas from liver cancer.

Local journalist Geoffrey Shryhane got wind a few years ago that the popular singer once resided in Winstanley.

He used his Wigan World column in our sister paper The Wigan Observer, to hunt down the truth and was inundated with stories of when Errol lived in the town in the early 70s.

Linda Hart was a local midwife in that decade and she revealed: “I don’t know the exact date but I do recall the Browns living in Wigan.”

Barbara Speakman wrote: “Around 1973, my mother and father-in-law (Ike and Doris Speakman) kept a general store on Warrington Road in Goose Green. I well remember them talking about Errol Brown who was a regular customer at their shop. Sadly Doris and Ike are now dead but I recall Doris referring to Errol as ‘a lovely lad’.”

Another local resident says: “One day this big fella knocked on the door and asked if the house nearby was for sale. I said it was but added that it was highly priced. Errol replied: ‘No problem. I have plenty of bread’.”

Kathleen Broom emailed saying: “One day I went to the newsagents shop in Goose Green and who was there but Errol Brown. He was 6ft tall and had a shaven head. I didn’t have the courage to speak to him.”

And Tony Glanfield said a good friend, who worked at a local filling station, filled Brown’s car with fuel many times.

Alas the friend died too early in life but was proud to have met Errol – who he described as a thoroughly nice gentleman.

However, some have taken to social media to suggest that an Errol lookalike used to live in Wigan and it was with him that readers may think they remember. He even used to answer to the singer’s name, it is claimed.

Brown, who is survived by his wife Ginette and two daughters, Colette and Leonie, was made an MBE in 2003.

His manager Phil Dale said he was “a wonderful gentleman,” adding: “There was always music around wherever he was. I’ve been with him in the middle of Australia and he has got an idea for a song and started writing.

“Errol was a lover of life and obviously music.

“I never went into his home, car or a hotel room without music playing. And it always played constantly in his dressing room before a concert.

“Errol was a gentle man and was a personal friend of mine who will be sadly missed by everyone who knew him. His greatest legacy is that his music will live on.”

Brown scored his first success with Hot Chocolate in 1970 with the top 10 track Love Is Life and went on to have more than 20 top 40 hits, many of which he wrote.

You Sexy Thing made it into the top 10 three times - helped along in 1997 by its use in the film The Full Monty - and the band had their only number one with So You Win Again in 1977. It Started With A Kiss also charted three times.

The band, who got together in Brixton, south London, had fans in high places and in 1981 they played at a pre-wedding bash in Buckingham Palace for the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer. The singer, who moved to Britain from Jamaica with his mother at the age of 12, was given an Ivor Novello award for his outstanding contribution to British music in 2004.