Bobby Farrell of 70s disco chart-toppers Boney M has been found dead on tour. He was 61.
Bobby, famed for his miming and dancing more than his singing, died in his hotel room in St Petersburg, his agent revealed yesterday.
He had complained of breathing problems before and after a concert in Russia on Wednesday night and the alarm was raised when he failed to respond to a wake-up call. The cause of his death has yet to be established.
Bobby lived in Amsterdam and his agent John Seine said from the Netherlands yesterday: "He did a show that night as part of Bobby Farrell's Boney M and they found him this morning dead in his hotel room. He did not feel well last night, and was having problems with his breathing, but he did the show anyway."
Born Alfonso Farrell in Aruba, off the north coast of Venezuela, he left home at the age of 15 to become a sailor. He lived in Norway and the Netherlands before moving to Germany where he worked as a DJ.
But it wasn't until German singer/songwriter Frank Farian recruited him for his new Boney M group that he got his big break.
Bobby was the only male singer in the original group, although Farian claimed he sang most of the songs in the studio and Bobby mimed them on stage.
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With their wide-legged satin and fur-trimmed costumes, wild hair and bizarre dance routines, Boney M sold 80 million records through the 70s and 80s.
In 1978 their cover version of Rivers Of Babylon backed by Brown Girl in the Ring spent 40 weeks in the charts, becoming the second bestselling UK single in history at the time. It remains Britain's fifth best-selling single.
Other chart hits included Daddy Cool, Mary's Boy Child and the Russian-themed Rasputin, which featured the line: "There was a cat that really was gone."
In 1978 Boney M was the first Western music group invited by a Soviet leader, Leonid Brezhnev, to perform in the Soviet Union. A Soviet military plane flew the performers from London to Moscow, where they sang for an audience of 2,700 Russians in Red Square.
However, the group drifted apart and disbanded in 1986. They re-formed many times but in recent years Bobby headed his own group, Bobby Farrell's Boney M.
He was due to fly to Rome yesterday for a TV appearance before performing in a New Year's Eve concert tonight.
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