MOSCOW: Boney M’s frontman Bobby Farrell was found dead in his hotel room in St Petersburg on Thursday, the day after a performance in the city where the band rose to stardom in the Soviet era, his agent said on Thursday.
“He did a show last night as part of Bobby Farrell’s Boney M and they found him dead this morning in his hotel room,” agent John Seine told Reuters by telephone from the Netherlands. Farrell was 61.
“He did not feel well last night, and was having problems with his breathing, but he did the show anyway,” he added.
The cause of his death was not immediately clear, said Sergei Kapitanov, representative of St. Petersburg’s branch of Russia’s investigative committee.
Farrell was famous for dancing and lip synching for the disco band that rose to prominence in Europe, the United States and the Soviet Union with songs like “Ma Baker,” “Rivers of Babylon” and “Rasputin.”
The irony of the situation is that Farrell died the same day as Grigori Rasputin, the infamous mystic whose story made the subject of Boney M’s hit song.
Boney M was put together by German singer-songwriter Frank Farian who also produced most of the vocals for the group, which stormed to the top of the charts in the late 1970s with a string of disco hits.
The quartet of Farrell, Maisie Williams, Liz Mitchell and Marcia Barrett were one of the most popular bands of the late 1970s. Known for their unusual costumes and dances, the band sold around 80 million records.
Their “Rivers of Babylon” released in 1978 became the highest selling single of all times in UK, selling nearly two million records in Britain alone. “Brown Girl in the Ring” spent 19 weeks in the UK Top 10.
The group disbanded in 1986.
Celebrities send out their sincerest condolences
Khurram Waqar (Qayaas)
In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, they (Boney M) were the best. Though I wasn’t a big fan of them, I respect them as artistes.
Taimur Rahman (Laal)
I have always been a big fan and loved to dance to their music. Boney M stands for disco. They took disco to a whole new level. Everyone who grew up in 1980s even Nazia Hasan used to listen to them and their musical influence could be felt in that era. Most artistes of that time consciously and unconsciously mirrored their music aesthetic. I didn’t know he had passed away. That’s really sad. Bobby Farell was the real talent behind the band.
Farhad Humayun (Overload):
It’s really funky quintessential disco music. Their music was the anthem for the people of the 1970s and 1980s. They brought funk music to the forefront. I loved their drumming in particular and the singer who would act in a foolish way on stage. They were a spectacular live act.
I was quite saddened by the news. He was a great show man. I expected that they would release something new and even googled them in anticipation and that’s when I read that Bobby Farrell had passed away.
Omar Ali Khan (Filmmaker)
I never bought their music. The worst form of German disco crap. That guy didn’t even know how to sing! He would just prance around with the microphone. It had to be the worst band in the history of recorded music. Shiekh Amer Hasan, whose shows always had ‘Ma Baker’ as background score, even brought them to Pakistan. Needless to mention I did not attend.
Boney M introduced the disco scene. ABBA and Boney M are my first few references to the disco music.
I totally loved them. I have their music on 24/7 in my car. I’m totally shocked to hear about it (death of Bobby Farrell).
Published in The Express Tribune, January 1st, 2011.