Boney M frontman Bobby Farrell dies on tour in Russia

Roberto Alfonso “Bobby” Farrell, frontman for the popular 1970s disco group, Boney M. passed away today on tour in St. Petersburg, Russia.

According to his agent, John Seine, Farrell, 61 suffered for the past 10 years with “heart problems, shortage of breath and problems with his stomach.” His reputation for wearing exotic attire and being a supreme showman on stage are a couple of his enduring trademarks.

A native of Aruba, Farrell became the most well known figure to come from the tiny Dutch island in the Caribbean. As the only male member of Boney M., Farrell brought a new energy to the odd collective when signed on in 1975. Frank Farian the brains and music behind the group revealed that Farrell along with his female counterparts gave the group a signature, authentic look that made records easier to sell.

Farrell wasn’t involved in the makings of the actual studio recordings, but his on stage presence gave Boney M. a fascinating dynamic, which would gain them a faithful following. “I like to look good on stage and to release all my energy in my shows,” Farrell said on his website recently. “The energy in my music has no limit. I want people to feel entertained and to hear the love that I have for creating music, translated into my songs.”

As a 15 year old, he ventured out on his own to work as sailor then he eventually landed in Norway to become a DJ. Years later, he became acquainted with Farian and Farrell proved to be worth the gamble once Boney M. struck gold with their hit record “Daddy Cool” in 1978 that stayed on top of the British music charts for five weeks. They followed with another smash “Rivers of Babylon” in the same year.

Amidst rumors of unreliability and disagreements with Farian, Farrell would become interchangeable in 1970s, but returned to prominence by touring throughout Europe the past two decades. He was due to release a new solo album and go on tour in Italy this spring upon finishing up his current touring in the United States, Slovakia, Colombia, Turkey and Finland.

“He was a fantastic person, quite bizarre,” said Seine. “He had a big heart but he was also explosive.”

Farrell was found dead this morning after failing to respond to a wake-up call. He is survived by a son and a daughter.