Danny Joe Brown, the original lead singer of the Southern rock band Molly Hatchet, died on March 10 of renal failure and pneumonia. He was 53.
The Jacksonville, Fla., native graduated from high school, spent two years in the U.S. Coast Guard then made a living as an insurance salesman. His passion, however, was music and in 1974, he joined Molly Hatchet, a hard-rockin’ six-piece band that was named after a 17th century prostitute who allegedly beheaded and mutilated her clients.
Brown served as the frontman and lone vocalist for the group, and lent his deep, gravelly voice to the songs “Dreams I’ll Never See” and “Gator Country.” Molly Hatchet’s self-titled debut went platinum in 1978. A year later, the band released its sophomore effort, “Flirtin’ With Disaster,” which sold over 2 million copies.
Citing diabetes and exhaustion from constant touring and partying, Brown left the band in 1980. He created a short-lived side project — The Danny Joe Brown Band — before rejoining Molly Hatchet in 1982 to record the albums “No Guts…No Glory” and “The Deed Is Done.”
Molly Hatchet disbanded several times in the 1980s, but reunited for a reunion tour in 1996. When Brown’s diabetes worsened, vocalist Phil McCormack replaced him. His musical career ended in 1998 after he suffered a debilitating stroke.