Bobby Farrell -- the only male member of 70s chart toppers Boney M -- had died in Russia at the age of 61. According to his agent, John Seine, the singer-dancer was found dead by staff in his hotel room in St Petersburg after he failed to respond to a wake up call.
Farrell had been performing in the Russian city with a version of Boney M and had complained the previous night of breathing difficulties before and after the gig. No cause of death has been given as yet, Spinner reports.
The website of City Concert entertainment agency said Farrell and Boney M were to perform two shows in St. Petersburg on December 28 and 29, but their location was not disclosed. Russian media reported that the band was to perform at a private party.
A source close to the organizers said Farrell's long-time co-performer, Liz Mitchell, was in tears over his death. Mitchell's husband, Thomas, who is with his wife and the rest of the group in St. Petersburg, could not be reached by telephone to confirm the cause of the dancer's death, RIA Novosti reports.
Boney M was put together by German singer and songwriter Frank Farian in 1974, and had a huge following in Europe, including the Soviet Union, in the 1970s.
Farrell, who was more a dancer and showman than a singer, was the male face of the group, which included three other West Indian session singers - Marcia Barrett, Liz Mitchell and Maizie Williams.
The group went on to have hits such as Daddy Cool, Sunny, By the Rivers of Babylon and a favourite in North America, Rasputin'.
Boney M had 38 top-10 hits, including 15 that hit No. 1 in Germany, where they were then based, including Brown Girl in the Ring and Mary's Boychild.
Farrell was born Alphonso Farrell on Oct. 6, 1949, in Aruba. He left home at 15 as a sailor, then worked as a DJ in Germany before being picked by Farian to front Boney M, CBC.ca reports.
After a trip to Russia, Polish writer Maya Wolny concluded that the West did not even have a close idea of how things really were in the Russian Federation.