(Jamaica Observer) Former lead singer of The Chosen Few, Noel “Bunny” Brown died in Atlanta, Georgia, on Monday. The singer, believed to be in his late 60s, was battling bone cancer.
Drummer Sly Dunbar confirmed his death.
“It’s very sad. He was one of the better singers in Jamaica. He was a good person — friendly, loyal and helpful. I know he had been diagnosed with bone cancer, but you always feel he could come around,” Dunbar told the Jamaica Observeryesterday.
The musician said he last spoke to Brown by phone two weeks ago, and he was in high spirits.
“I know him from (primary) school days. He used to attend St Aloysius and I used to attend Trench Town, but I had a friend at his school and visited their school regularly so I used to see Bunny often… When we became older, we both decided that we would pursue music… I used to see him by Derrick Harriott’s, as he was member of Chosen Few, and we would hail each other,” Dunbar said.
Harriott, a veteran singer and producer, is also saddened by Brown’s passing.
“I spoke to him a few months ago. I heard he was sick but he never actually told me; I never understood why but he kept it away from a lot of people,” said Harriott.
The producer said he worked with Brown in his formative years and is responsible for giving him his break.
“He came to me early and was always under my cover with recordings… He was the one who came to me for audition… I realised The Chosen Few were talented. They did many memorable songs,” he said.
As frontman of The Chosen Few, Brown enjoyed success in the early 1970s. They had a well-received album of covers, namely Hit After Hit in 1973, containing tracks such as You’re A Big Girl Now, Ebony Eyes, and Stranger On The Shore.
Formed in 1969, the group evolved from The Federals. It also included Franklin Spence, David “Deejay Scotty” Scott, and Richard McDonald.
Originally from Richmond Park in Kingston, Brown said he started singing at Olivet Gospel Hall at age nine.
“As a solo artiste, he was a very dynamic singer. He could project his voice and you could hear the lyrics. In fact, Bunny and myself backed up Dennis Brown on Wichita Lineman. Bunny and Lorna Bennett, Protoje’s mom, backed me up on Let Me Down Easy,” said Harriott.
Brown’s solo work includes covers of Heatwave’s Always and Forever; Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Gonna Come; The Temptations’ Just My Imagination; the Righteous Brothers’ Unchained Melody; and Michael Jackson’s She’s Out Of My Life.
He migrated to England in the 1970s, and returned to Jamaica in 2004 to resurrect his career.
“Bunny always had that exciting feel…He would share his ideas about how a song could be improved and would always be willing to assist. He will be missed,” Harriott added.