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Meet Hot Chocolate [PHOTOS/VIDEOS]

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Best Of compilation from England. (Craig Allen photo)

This British band was originally named the “Hot Chocolate Band” by Mavis Smith, a member of the Apple Records press office! Soon, the name was shortened…

The Hot Chocolate Band started their recording career by singing a reggae version of ”Give Peace A Chance,” but, band-founder Errol Brown was told that he needed permission to use the song. He was soon contacted by Apple Records (the Beatles record company). Further, it was learned that John Lennon liked the band’s version of his song, and, incredibly, the band was signed to Apple Records!

Sadly, the deal was short-lived…as the Fab Four were starting to break up. So, the Apple connection soon ended. But, the newly-named Hot Chocolate did not!

In 1970, Hot Chocolate, with the help of record producer Mickie Most, began releasing songs that became hits in England: “Love is Life”, “Emma, “You Could Have Been a Lady”, and “I Believe in Love”. All these releases were on the RAK record label, which was owned by Most. Errol Brown and bassist Tony Wilson wrote most of Hot Chocolate’s original songs.

Over time, the five piece band from Brixton (London) became British Singles Charts regulars, and began to set their sights on the US Top-40 charts!  ”Emma” (#8/1975) introduced the band to America.

But, It was in the disco years (mid-late 1970′s) that Hot Chocolate really hit its stride, and became a big commercial success. A combination of high production standards, confidence in the songwriting team of Wilson and Brown, and finding their own distinctive sound, allowed Hot Chocolate to record singles that would become “Jersey’s Favorite Hits”: “You Sexy Thing” (#3/1976) and “Every 1′s a Winner” (#6/1979).

“Every 1′s a Winner” features a distorted guitar riff, using a Marshall Time Modulator (time delay and “flanging” that pumps up instrumental sound).

In 1977, after scoring 15 hits in England, Hot Chocolate finally reached #1 in their home country with “So You Win Again.”  Ironically, it was one of the few of hit songs not written by a group member! By the way, the song peaked at #31 on the charts, stateside.

It is interesting to note that Hot Chocolate became the only group, and one of just three acts, that scored a hit in every year of the 1970′s on the British charts (the other artists being Elvis and Diana Ross). The band eventually had at least one hit, every year, between 1970 and 1984 (in England). Their US chart-run ended in early 1983, with “Are You Getting Enough Happiness.” Apparently not, as the song stalled at #65!

Their single “You Sexy Thing” is the only track that made British Top 10 status in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

On the other hand, the music critics in both England and the US weren’t too kind to Hot Chocolate over the years. They either took the band to task, or simply ignored them!

When Hot Chocolate disbanded in 1986, Errol Brown began a solo career. Two of his singles made the UK Singles Chart : “Personal Touch” and “Body Rockin’” (These solo efforts were totally ignored in the US).

But, it didn’t end there… In 1992, with a new line-up, manager and agent, Ric Martin, took control of the band’s bookings and live appearances. In its “new” form, Hot Chocolate continues to play live in the UK and Europe.

The original Hot Chocolate’s enduring popularity was cemented when two “Best Of” albums reached #1 on the British Album Charts in the early 2000s! In 2003 and 2004, Errol Brown received awards for his contributions to British music.

The (original) band’s music continues to be included on 1970′s CD music compilations, plus TV commercials, and in hit movies like: “The Full Monty” (1997) and “Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist” (2008) to name just a few…

And, don’t forget Hot Chocolate’s enduring presence on the playlist called “Jersey’s Favorite Hits,”  here on New Jersey 101.5!

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