News Segment


March 12, 2005

Danny Joe Brown, former lead singer of the Jacksonville-based Molly Hatchet band in the 1970s and ’80s, died Thursday of renal failure at home in Davie. He was 53.

A diabetic since he was 19, Brown had been hospitalized for the past five weeks, according to his stepfather, Charlie Langley of Davie.

Bass player Riff West, who joined the band in 1981, said Brown was the ”epitome of the rock star,” and endeared all who came into his sphere.

Lead guitarists Dave Hlubek and Steve Holland formed the Molly Hatchet band in 1971, according to the website

The band was named after a legendary 17th Century axe murderess, Hatchet Molly, who beheaded and mutilated her lovers, according to the band’s biography.

Brown joined in 1974. Other original members Duane Roland (lead guitar), Banner Thomas (bass) and Bruce Crump (drums) joined in 1975.

The band’s sound, he said, was immediately recognizable by Brown’s distinct voice — a deep, raspy, throaty growl.

West, who knew Brown many years before they played together in the band, said, “Danny was the voice and soul of Molly Hatchet.”

The band followed in the tradition of what became known as ”Southern Rock” — a mixture of blues, rock ‘n’ roll, country and gospel — with such groups as the Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Charlie Daniels Band.

The group’s first album, Molly Hatchet (1978) went quickly to platinum. Its second album, Flirtin’ with Disaster, was a bigger success, selling more than two million copies.

The strain of constant touring finally took its toll on Brown. He left the band in 1980, and was replaced by new lead singer Jimmy Farrar.

Farrar’s voice, however, was less immediately identifiable, and the band’s commercial appeal began to slowly decline, according to the website, a music reference source.

Brown formed the Danny Brown Band which produced the album, Danny Joe Brown & the Danny Joe Brown Band in 1981. Herejoined the Molly Hatchet band in 1982, but the group’s ensuing album, No Guts . . . No Glory, was a flop.

Molly Hatchet took a hiatus in 1985 and returned four years later with its album Lightning Strikes Twice. The album did not do well, and the group disbanded shortly afterward.

A touring group that still plays throughout the South was formed in the mid ’90s with none of the original members.

A major stroke ended Brown’s career in 1998.

Born in Jacksonville on Aug. 24, 1951, Brown graduated from Terry Parker High in 1969. Shortly after graduating, he enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard and was stationed in New York for two years.

Once he left the Coast Guard, Brown’s focus turned solely to music, according to his second wife, Crystal Brown of Orange Park, Fla.

Before moving to South Florida, Brown resided in St. Petersburg, Little Rock and Orlando, his wife said.

In addition to his stepfather and wife, he is survived by sons Jake Brown, Matthew Brown, both of Atlanta, Ga.; Danny Joe Brown Jr. of Davie; stepson Aaron Morgan of Jacksonville; daughters Ashley Brown, Rebeccah Brown, both of Orange Park, Fla.; brother Michael Brown of Davie; sister Lyndia Mitcham of Little Rock; and two grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday at Panciera Memorial Home, 4200 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood.

A funeral service will be held 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at Cooper City Church of God, 9191 Stirling Rd., Cooper City.

Courtesy of