Molly Hatchet Lead Singer Loved Job; Mr. Brown Died Thursday at His Home in Davie of Renal Failure, a Complication of His Diabetes

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Byline: Jessie-Lynne Kerr, The Times-Union

The funeral will be this morning for the man whose gutsy, growling voice defined a band arguably second only to Lynyrd Skynyrd in epitomizing Southern rock music.

Jacksonville native Danny Joe Brown was lead vocalist for the band Molly Hatchet in 1978 when it released its self-titled album and its acclaimed followup, Flirtin' With Disaster, the following year. After leaving the band for a few years in the early 1980s because of health problems, he rejoined the group and was a part of it until suffering a serious stroke in 1998.

Mr. Brown died Thursday at his home in Davie of renal failure, a complication of the diabetes he had since age 19. He was 53.

Services will be at 11:30 a.m. today at Cooper City Church of God in Cooper City, followed by burial in Lauderdale Memorial Park cemetery in Fort Lauderdale.

Mr. Brown was born in Jacksonville in 1951. He graduated from Terry Parker High School in 1969 and enlisted in the Coast Guard. He was stationed in New York for two years. After his discharge, he devoted all his time to his music, joining Molly Hatchet in 1974.

The band had been formed in Jacksonville in 1971 by Dave Hlubek and Steve Holland, who named it after a legendary killer prostitute.

Hlubek, who recently rejoined Molly Hatchet as the only original member of the group, remembers meeting Mr. Brown at DJ's Bottle Club, an Arlington after-hours bar. Mr. Brown was a customer who approached Hlubek after completing a set.

"He introduced himself and told me, 'You're the best guitar player I've ever heard, but you can't sing a note,' When I asked him, 'And who might you be?' he said, 'I'm going to be your singer'."

On stage, Mr. Brown was an energetic performer who was drenched in sweat even before the show started, Hlubek said.

"I saw him take brand new audiences and bring them to the Molly Hatchet table," Hlubek said. "He'd dare them to rock harder than we were. He had a real command on that stage."

In 1980, Phil Kloer, then a music writer for The Florida Times-Union, wrote in a concert review: "Nearly 12,000 rock music fans packed the Coliseum -- and thousands more were turned away at the door -- for the first local headlining date of Molly Hatchet in that arena. The members of Hatchet are Jacksonville-born and bred, and their sound -- rock at its most basic level -- was the anthem of the masses."

The band's debut album, Molly Hatchet, was released and reached multi-platinum status as the band toured across the country with groups such as Aerosmith and Bob Seger. …

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