Hot Chocolate was an interracial (four black members, two white) group from London who had a hit in 1975 with "You Sexy Thing." Written by their lead singer Errol Brown and bass player Tony Wilson, "Brother Louie" is about a romance between a white man and a black woman.
Errol Brown was born in Jamaica and raised by a single mother, who moved him to England when he was young. He told Melody Maker that this song was inspired by real-life experience. "That comes from early dating in a place where there's a majority of white people," he said. "That was fine for us because we grew up and rubbed shoulders with other nationalities so it wasn't a heavy thing. But in those days a lot of white parents never had anything to do with black people. It was understandable – they just didn't know what was going on, apart from what they read in books or saw on TV: jungle scenes."
The spoken interludes in this song were performed by the British blues musician Alexis Korner. It was pretty controversial stuff, as Korner said, "I don't want no honky in my family" and "I don't want no spook in my family."
The Hot Chocolate version of this song didn't gain any traction in the United States, possibly because of the subject matter. The spoken sections portraying the parents' reactions to the interracial couple were rather graphic, using the epithets "Honky" and "Spook," which was enough to scare many radio stations away.
About six months after Hot Chocolate's version was issued, the New York City group Stories recorded the song and released it as a single. Their version, which left out the spoken parts and a verse where Louie meets the girl's parents, featured a more pronounced string section and proved much more palatable to American listeners, and went to #1 in the US in August 1973. It was the only hit for Stories.
Other artists to record this song include The Drifters, Code Red, and the Quireboys, whose version hit #31 in the UK.
Errol Brown is proud of Hot Chocolate's tag as Britain's first multiracial pop band. He told the Mail On Sunday January 25, 2009: "That was deliberate. I wanted to show the world that we could work together, whatever our color or creed. It may sound idealistic, but bigotry and prejudice have always offended my sensibilities. I thought it important to show that we were all God's children and needed to respect each other. This is my philosophy of life. It's the way I've tried to live."
The Stories version of the song was used as the theme to the FX show Louie, starring the comedian Louis C.K. On the show, Louie's ex-wife is black.
Ian Lloyd of Stories explained to Forgotten Hits how they came across this song: "Sitting in Bob Reno's A&R office at Buddah records, I went through a lot of different, demo tapes & discs. When I heard the chorus to 'Louie' I told Bob - 'This is a number one record – let's do it.' At the time I did NOT know that I was listening to Hot Chocolate's finished master - I thought it was just another demo. I think both versions were released around the same time... the rest is rock history."
If you thought The Stories version of this song was Rod Stewart, you're not the only one. Ian Lloyd says most people thought he was either black ("as the night") or Rod Stewart when they heard his voice. He says he even got some fan mail intended for Stewart.
Don from Sevierville, TnAndy, you can hear Hot Chocolate's version on YouTube. And John, after this song, Hot Chocolate did have 3 hits in the USA - You Sexy Thing, So You Win Again and Every One's a Winner.
Barry from Sauquoit, NyMichael Brown, keyboardist with the Left Banke and Stories, died March 19th, 2015 of unknown causes. He was 65.
Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn July 6th 1973, the Stories performed "Brother Louie" on the NBC-TV program 'The Midnight Special'... One month earlier on June 17th, 1973 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #83; and on August 19th, 1973 it peaked at #1 (for 2 weeks) and spent 18 weeks on the Top 100 (and for 8 of those 18 weeks it was on the Top 10)... The week it reached #1 it had jumped over "Live and Let Die" by Paul McCartney & Wings, which had been at #2 and never did make #1... The Stories had three Top 100 records; "I'm Coming Home" (#42 in 1972), "Mammy Blue" (#50 in 1973), and "If It Feels good, Do It" (#88 in 1974).
Nick from Grand Prairie,There is a significant difference between Hot Chocolate's version and the Stories' version. The "View Lyrics" link on this page takes you to the Stories version. In the Hot Chocolate version, in the second verse, SHE takes Louie home to meet her parents. That's why in the spoken part, you hear her father saying "...I don't want no honky in my family". Then later, in the Hot Chocolate version, Louie takers her home to meet his parents. That's when you hear the spoken part of his father saying "I don't want no spook in my family." Of course, the Stories version does not have any of the spoken parts, but also, in both verse 2 and in verse 4, Louie is taking her home to his parents and there is not a verse about her taking Louie home.
Andy from B'ham, AlI've never heard the Hot Chocolate version period. If anyone has a recording of it, please let me know.
John from Brisbane, United StatesI cant understand why I never hear this classic song on a radio .Why did Hot Chocolate fail to perform better after this masterpiece.This is hot Chocolate at their unblemished and true self-best.Before the oh no no nitpicking people came along.The Stories had a one hit wonder and I say shame shame on the Americans for letting Hot chocolates masterpiece go to waste.