Friends, family and dance music lovers from across the nation have joined together in paying tribute to a popular and revered MC and singer who has died suddenly at his partner’s home in Haverhill.
Notice boards and websites dedicated to the happy hardcore genre of dance music have been flooded with messages of condolence after Leon van Brown - better known as his performing name, MC Junior - died in Castle Avenue on New Years Eve.
The 43-year-old suffered a cardiac arrest after a series of epileptic fits.
Although originally from Battersea in London, Leon had been a regular visitor to Haverhill for more than 20 years and just days before Christmas arrived in town to spend time with his on-off partner of 16-years, Tara Hallett, mother to his son Ethan.
Before Leon and Tara got together, he had been in a relationship with another woman in Haverhill and together they had a daughter who is now 18. Tara, 41, said: “We were going to work things out and he was going to put a ring on my finger.
“We were going to settle down and be happy. The two weeks he was here, it was fantastic.
“His mum said to me ‘this is where he wanted to be’ and I’m glad he was here when he went.
“He is going to be missed by so many people. He just enjoyed making everyone else happy. He would give everyone his love. He was a fantastic man.”
Leon, added Tara, had suffered a seizure in her bed before going to Ethan’s bed, where he had another fit and then his fatal cardiac arrest. He was pronounced by paramedics at 10.49am.
Tara added: “He (Ethan) is six now and he knows daddy died and every night he says ‘I want daddy to come home’ and I say ‘I know you do baby.’
As MC Junior, Leon first made his name performing in the early 1990s at the now closed Oscar’s Nightclub on Clacton pier, where he met Paul Hobbs, who was then resident DJ.
In the mid 1990s MC Junior teamed up with DJs Force (Hobbs) & Styles (Darren Styles), and together the trio wrote a number of hit tracks, including Pacific Sun, Paradise and Dreams and Cutting Deep.
Their most famous track was Pretty Green Eyes (lyrics written by MC Junior) which was covered by Ultrabeat in 2003 and reached number two in the UK chart.
Mr Hobbs said: “He (Leon) came round my house and myself and Darren were playing Fifa and he said ‘boys, I’ve got a song’.
“Eventually we got round to listening to the song and it was a track called Pretty Green Eyes, and that’s the one that did it for us.”
In 2004, during a period when he was writing for the famous Clubland brand, MC Junior also had a number 20 hit, working with DJs Flip and Fill, called Irish Blue.
Mr Hobbs said: “His smile was infectious and his personality was infectious and I’m just going to bloody miss him.”
Leon’s funeral takes place at Mortlake Crematorium in Surrey at 1.30pm next Friday (20).
DJ Styles has made a candlelight mix of Pacific Sun, with strings, piano and Junior singing, for the funeral. Mr Hobbs said: “I can imagine it’s going to bring a lot of tears to a lot of people’s eyes.”