Claim to fame: singer (Molly Hatchet)
DOB: August 24, 1951
Date of death: March 10, 2005
Diabetes Type: unknown
The lead singer of the 1970s Southern rock band Molly Hatchet, Danny Joe Brown was best known for his contribution with songs like “Flirtin’ with Disaster” and “Whiskey Man,” for which he wrote the lyrics and supplied the vocals. Rough, grating, croaky-voiced Brown and the other members of Molly Hatchet were influential in creating the subgenre known as “Southern rock.” Together with the Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, and the Charlie Daniels Band, Molly Hatchet combined the rebellious spirit of rock with the unique sounds of country, gospel, and blues.
Brown was born in Jacksonville, Florida in 1951. He graduated from Terry Parker High School in 1969, after which he enlisted in the United States Coast Guard. While enlisted, Brown was stationed in New York, where he learned, at the age of nineteen, that he had diabetes. Two years after joining, Brown left the Coast Guard to pursue a career in music.
In 1974, Brown joined up with David Hlubeck, Steve Holland, Bruce Crump, Banner Thomas, and Duane Roland to form Molly Hatchet. The group released their eponymous first album under Epic Records in 1978. The album was a great success, selling 1 million copies and receiving a platinum certificate from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). A year later, the band released their second album, Flirtin’ with Disaster, which sold twice as many copies and was awarded a double-platinum certificate. However, as the band’s popularity grew, so did the demands to perform, and Brown’s diabetes began to prove a burden for the performer.
In 1980, Brown was forced to leave the band due to increasing concerns with regard to his diabetes, pancreatic problems, and overall health. However, after only a year of recuperation, Brown was back on the music scene with a solo project, The Danny Joe Brown Band. In 1982, Brown returned to Molly Hatchet, and together, the band released four more albums. However, in 1998, Brown was again forced to leave Molly Hatchet after suffering a stroke. Brown retired from music soon after, and returned to Florida. On March 10, 2005, Brown died of renal failure resulting from his diabetes. The rock icon was 53 years old.