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Leo Sayer

Leo was born Gerard Hugh Sayer on May 21st. 1948, Thomas Sayer and Teresa Nolan at Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex, in England. He was the second child of three.
The Sayer family were devout Catholics, and after serving as an altar boy, Leo was inducted into the choir under the educated ear of Father Dermot MacHale, the Parish Priest.
The Rock newspaper Melody Maker had a “Battle Of The Bands” contest that Leo and his mates entered, narrowly missing winning the local heat. Leo, still known as Gerry at the time, had decided what he wanted to do with his life.

A local Brighton newspaper, The Evening Argus, ran a small box advert for a talent contest. David Courtney, who was about to set up a talent agency, held the audition, which took place at Brighton’s Pavilion Theatre. Patches featuring Gerry Sayer (vocals and harmonica) won the audition. It turned out that David Courtney was not just a promoter. He’d played drums (with early 60’s pop star Adam Faith) and was also a songwriter.

“The Show Must Go On”, released as the second single, went to number 2 in the U.K. charts and the “Silverbird” album also reached number 2 in the album chart. The B.B.C. put Leo In Concert on T.V. and as the year of 1973 drew to a close both the Melody Maker and The Sun newspaper (on the cover of it’s new year issue) predicted Leo as “The Star Of ‘74”

In the U.S.A., Three Dog Night covered “The Show Must Go On” and took their version right to the top of the singles chart there. They had seen Leo on British television dressed as Pierrot and dressed up as circus clowns on U.S. T.V., in their interpretation of Leo. They had ironically changed Leo’s lyric to: “We must let the show go on….” This proved Leo’s songs could travel, as Leo was now starting to get lots of attention around the world, and Leo prepared to tour the U.S. for the first time.

Leo was becoming an accomplished stage performer by now and the second U.S. tour, which followed, underlined this. Leo’s band now included Chris Stainton, pianist with the Greaseband, who had famously backed Joe Cocker at Woodstock.

Leo was on top of the world and the ricochet of his U.S. success echoed around the globe. Endless Flight was critically well received everywhere, and though some felt Leo had lost some of his uniqueness in the process, none could deny the instant pop appeal of the album.

The second single, “When I Need You” (a ballad by Albert Hammond and Carole Bayer-Sager), brought even more success.

“When I Need You” went on to dominate the world charts, bringing him further number ones in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, and many other countries.

In the U.K. offers came in for Leo’s own T.V. series. In the States he was wined and dined on Johnny Carson and all the big chat shows and in February 1977 got the biggest accolade of all, a coveted Grammy award for best Rhythm & Blues song – “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing”. He also won awards in Britain (a B.P.I. award and a T.V. Times award), Canada (a Juno award), and Europe (Belgium’s Golden Lion).

Back briefly in England in March, Leo appeared on T.V. for the B.B.C. with his own prime time special. He played in Windsor Great Park during the summer of 1977. The occasion was the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, and Leo had the honour of being presented to Her Majesty after the show.

“How Much Love” (written with Barry Mann) was the third single release from “Endless Flight” and continued the chart-hit trend. The album went platinum in both Britain and the States, where such a rating then equalled a staggering one million copies.

The singles from the album had now sold roughly six million copies around the world. Late summer and early autumn 1977 was spent recording “Thunder In my Heart” at Studio 55.

Back in England, 1979 also saw the release of “The Very Best Of Leo Sayer”, which thanks to an extensive TV advertising campaign, saw Leo breaking his own and Chrysalis’s sales records, the album going straight to No.1 in the UK album charts and being awarded double platinum status, which in those days meant sales of two million units in the U.K. alone!

The British Pop and Rock awards (now The Brits) presented Leo with Best Male Artist (of 1978).

He travelled through the Far East: Thailand, Singapore, and Japan. He played in South Africa, to black audiences in the townships as well as at Sun City.

Leo played the Las Vegas, Reno, Lake Tahoe and Atlantic City casinos, in the US, with a big orchestra added to him and his band, and co-headlining the showrooms with the likes of Bill Cosby.

1980 bought a welcome return to the charts with a hit single, “More Than I Can Say” (56), a classic song written by Jerry Alison and Sonny Curtis from Buddy Holly’s backing group The Crickets, and originally recorded by Bobby Vee. It went to No.2 in the US and British charts.

The song came from 1980’s “Living In A Fantasy” album, produced and co written by a new partner for Leo, Alan Tarney. Alan created for Leo an entirely new sound, the most surprising element being that Alan also played all of the instruments except for Trevor Spencer’s drums. Also with Alan Tarney, Leo wrote a hit song “Dreaming” for Cliff Richard. It reached No.8 in the U.K. charts in August 1980.

A single from the album “Have You Ever Been In Love” by English writers, Andy Hill and Pete Sinfield, was yet another worldwide hit. Barry and Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees especially for Leo wrote the epic “Heart Stop Beating In Time”, and Dave Courtney and Leo co-wrote (yet again!) four entirely new tracks, including the title song, “World Radio”.

In 1988 he was touring the UK again, albeit to audiences who became confused by the straight hair and ponytail he was now sporting! The lad hadn’t lost his touch though, new songs revealing a harder edge and new depth to his work. The show reviews were good and the tour travelled on to great success in Australia.

Leo was still searching for a hit though, and returned to the studio in 1989 with Alan Tarney, to record “Cool Touch”, released in 1990 on EMI. The album was a journey into disco and soul, and though it didn’t achieve the success that Leo and Alan had hoped for, the “Cool Touch” single and video introduced Leo to the new “MTV” and dance generation of the 90’s.

Leo toured Australia again, and also in 1990 played two amazing concerts in Moscow. The entire audience sang along to “One Man Band” and “When I Need You” – in English! Leo was totally shocked, having never known of his popularity there.

Also at this time a group calling themselves The Groove Generation hit the UK charts with a 90’s style re-working of Leo’s classic “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing”- featuring Leo himself. This opened up an entirely new market to Leo and he started appearing in discos and at University dances and balls throughout the U.K. to a younger crowd, who now thought he was the epitome of chic. The seventies revival had started, with Leo being one of the great pace setters.

In 1978 Leo released “The Definitive Hits Collection” CD for Polygram –Universal.

In 1999 the “Live In London” live CD was recorded from a triumphant homecoming concert at Shepherds Bush Empire in the capital during the British tour of that year.

Leo saw in the new millennium 2000 with an extraordinary show in South Africa from the Blue Train at a mystery location in the middle of the African desert.

In February 2000 “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” was featured in the hit movie “Charlie’s Angels” – the accompanying soundtrack album entering the U.S. charts at no.5 and the movie becoming a huge hit all over the world in theatres and on video during the millennium year.

In August 2000 Leo and his band played to a huge crowd at South Africa’s Sun City. This concert was staged to recognise the 21st birthday of Sun City’s Superbowl venue and Leo was chosen for the celebrations as he was the first artist to have played there – way back in 1979.

Still on the concert trail, in July 2001 he made a first visit to Seoul, South Korea, playing two sold out concerts with a local 50 piece orchestra and becoming an instant celebrity on TV and radio there.

In October 2001 he returned to the concert stage in Australia and New Zealand to play a sold out tour of fourteen major venues. From a special extra concert he and the band performed at The Basement in Sydney, a “Live In Sydney” DVD was released.

In 2002 Leo gathered together songs he’d been working on in his own studio and headed off to Jutland, Denmark to record “Voice In My Head”. The album was recorded at an amazing rural facility called Lungaard Studios, and Leo stayed at the studio for almost 6 months to complete the recording.

It was a big project, his first studio recording in over ten years and the first album he’d ever produced. Strings were recorded in Prague, Czechoslovakia, and mastering was completed in Devon, England. The album was a truly international production, featuring musicians from all over the world and was first released on Edel Records in Germany in 2004.

In 2005 Leo was preparing to fulfil a lifetime ambition, to live in Australia, when he received a request from a UK DJ to remix his 1977 classic “Thunder In My Heart”.

Beautifully re-worked, “Thunder In My Heart Again” by DJ Meck became a monster dance hit all over the world, and in — Leo had his third official UK No.1.

By this time Leo was settling into his new life in Sydney, Australia, but flew back to the UK to promote the single. There was a storm of publicity and attention, and he was reported to be more surprised than anyone to be lip-synching to a vocal he had recorded thirty years before!

2010 started dramatically for Leo, with him headlining a huge free concert for Australia Day on the water in Sydney’s Darling Harbour. His performance was watched by 150,000 people live, and many more on national TV.

Later this year Leo travels to Europe for a series of live shows, in June re-visiting Britain for an arena tour titled: “Once In A Lifetime”, where he will be sharing the bill with David Essex, The Osmonds, and The Bay City Rollers.

The Show Must Go On!


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