“He was a fantastic person, quite bizarre,” said Seine. “He had a big heart but he was also explosive.”
Born Alfonso Farrell, he was brought up amid Aruba’s rich musical combination of carnival songs and processions, mixed with religious ceremonies from the Dutch colonial era. He left school at 15 to work as a sailor, but jumped ship in Norway and set himself up as a DJ.
Modest success took him to Germany where he was spotted by Farian, who had invented Boney M as a pseudonym, taken from an Australian TV series. Music was Farian’s strength but he needed a sexy and attention-catching cast to present curiosities such as Baby Do You Wanna Bump, which he recorded entirely himself in 1974, singing both deep bass and falsetto parts.
Farrell proved his worth with Daddy Cool, which was Britain’s number one for five weeks in 1978, the same year as Rivers of Babylon made the top spot. His own Boney M team played to wild acclaim up to his death, with an Abba-like repertoire of past golden hits to sing. Following tours of the United States, Colombia, Turkey, Finland and Slovakia, he was due to release a new album and tour Italy this spring.
He was found dead by staff at St Petersburg’s Ambassador hotel after failing to respond to a wake-up call. A Dutch speaker, he lived near Amsterdam, where he leaves a son and a daughter.
—from the Guardian
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