Hot Chocolate was a popular British pop band during the 70s and 80s, formed by Errol Brown. Hot Chocolate started their recording career making a reggae version of John Lennon’s Give Peace A Chance, but Brown was told he needed a permission. He was contacted by Apple Records, discovered that John Lennon liked his version, and the group was subsequently signed to Apple Records.
In 1970 Hot Chocolate, with the help of record producer Mickie Most, began releasing tracks that became hits, such as Love is Life, Emma, You Could Have Been a Lady and I Believe in Love. All those releases were on the RAK record label, owned by Most. Brown and bassist Tony Wilson wrote most of their original material. Gradually the five piece, Brixton, London based, outfit started to become UK Singles Chart regulars. Brother Louie, which featured a guest spoken vocal from Alexis Korner, and Emma introduced their distinctive sound.
It was in the disco era of the mid 1970s onwards, that Hot Chocolate became a big success. A combination of high production standards, the growing confidence of the main song-writing team of Wilson and Brown, and tight harmonies enabled them to secure further big hits like You Sexy Thing and Every 1’s a Winner, which were also in the U.S.A. hits, peaking at #3 and #6, respectively.
After Wilson’s departure for a solo career, that included a 1976 album I Like Your Style, Brown assumed songwriting duties. In 1977, after scoring 15 hits, they finally reached #1 with So You Win Again. Oddly, it was one of the few of their recordings that was not penned, at least partly, by Brown. The track was a Russ Ballard composition.The band became the only group, and one of just three acts, that scored a hit in every year of the 1970s in the UK charts. The band eventually had at least one hit, every year, between 1970 and 1984.
They continued well into the 1980s, and clocked up another big hit record: It Started With a Kiss, in 1982, which reached #5 in the UK. In all, the group charted 25 UK Top 40 hit singles. Their single You Sexy Thing became the only track that made British Top Ten status in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. From the late 1980s onwards the group experienced a resurgence of credibility: Urge Overkill, PJ Harvey and The Sisters of Mercy all added Hot Chocolate songs to their live sets. When Hot Chocolate disbanded in 1986, Errol Brown did not have much solo success, although two of his singles did make the UK Singles Chart – Personal Touch and Body Rockin’.
The band’s enduring popularity was verified when two compilation albums both reached #1 in the UK Albums Chart. In 2003 Errol Brown received the MBE; and in 2004, the Ivor Novello Award for his contribution to British music. Today Hot Chocolate are again making live appearances in the UK and Europe.