June 18, 2012 / 2:48 PM / 7 years ago

Flying Pickets singer Brian Hibbard dies aged 65

LONDON (Reuters) - Welsh actor and singer Brian Hibbard, who as lead singer of the 1980s a cappella band The Flying Pickets enjoyed a Christmas No. 1 with cover song “Only You”, has died after a long battle with prostate cancer. He was 65.

According to his agent, he passed away on Sunday evening and is survived by his wife and three children.

Hibbard formed the Flying Pickets in 1982 with a group of fellow fringe theatre actors, choosing the name because several band members had been involved in Britain’s miners strikes in the 1970s.

In 1983 they had a major hit with a voice-only version of Yazoo’s Only You, which spent five weeks at the top of the British singles chart over the key Christmas period.

The Flying Pickets could not maintain that success, however, reaching No. 7 in 1984 with “When You’re Young and in Love” and only 71st place with “Who’s That Girl?” later the same year.

At the height of their fame, they backed the coal miners in their bitter dispute in 1984 with the government led by then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Hibbard left the band in 1986 and took up acting, appearing in popular soap operas “Coronation Street” and “Emmerdale” and several other English- and Welsh-language dramas.

Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato

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