Leo Sayer

  • British singer, songwriter and musician born Gerald Sayer in 1948 in Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex England.
  • Sayer sang as a choir boy at church. He learned the guitar and harmonica in his youth, and as an art student in Sussex, he fronted two bands, The Terraplane Blues Band and Phydeaux. He moved to London in 1967 to work as an artist, busking on the street to earn some extra cash. In 1971, he formed the band Patches and they auditioned for Dave Courtney’s management company. Courtney agreed to manage them, and the duo began to write together, with Courtney dubbing his partner “Leo” since Sayer’s curly hair reminded Courtney Leo the lion. Patches had some recording sessions at the Who’s Roger Daltrey studio, and Daltrey was impressed with several songs written by Sayer and Courtney. One of the songs, Giving It All Away, became Daltrey’s biggest UK solo hit. Courtney brought Patches to a record label, and the label was unimpressed with the band but the label liked Sayer, so he was signed to a solo recording contract.
  • Sayer’s debut single in 1973, Why Is Everybody Going Home failed to chart, but the followup single The Show Must Go On peaked at #2 in the UK. Sayer performed the song on British television dressed as a mime. The band Three Dog Night saw Sayer on the television, and they decided to cover the song, performing it in clown outfits. Their version peaked at #4 on the Hot 100 – their final top 10 hit – blocking the Sayer version from charting in the U.S. Both songs were included on Sayer’s debut album, Silverbird, with Sayer writing lyrics and Courtney writing music and co-producing. The album reached #2 on the UK albums chart.
  • His sophmore album, Just A Boy, was released in 1974. He had his first top 10 U.S. hit on the album – Long Tall Glasses (I Can Dance) peaked at #9 on the Hot 100 chart, and at #4 on the UK singles chart. 1975’s Another Year album produced another UK hit – Moonlighting reached #2 in the UK.
  • Sayer’s most successful album was released in 1976. Endless Flight was certified platinum, with two singles topping the Hot 100 chart – You Make Me Feel Like Dancing and When I Need You. The former won a Grammy award for Best Rhythm & Blues Song (seriously? It’s a disco song – sounds nothing like R&B). As quickly as he reached the top, hits became more difficult to produce. His next three albums from 1977 to 1979 were less successful in the UK, with results in the U.S. even worse. A couple of singles – Thunder In My Heart and Easy To Love – snuck into the Top 40 in 1977.
  • In 1980, Sayer had a comeback hit with More Than I Can Say, a cover of the song first recorded by The Crickets and later by Bobby Vee. Sayer’s version peaked at #2 in both the UK and U.S. It was included on his Living In a Fantasy album, and the title track reached #23 in the U.S. It was his final charting single in the U.S. Several other songs charted in the UK over the next two years. By the late 80s, he was without a recording contract, and he had to finance his own UK tour.
  • Nearly broke due to mismanagement of his finances by a previous manager, he sued in 1992 to partially recover what he had lost. He followed that with another suit against his record label to regain the publishing rights to his songs. Yet another lawsuit to try to recover his mismanaged pension fund failed. Throughout this time, Sayer continued to perform and record, without any breakthroughs.
  • In 1997, he was offered an opportunity to perform a season of shows at London’s Cafe Royal club. The shows were well received, and the British tabloids raved about him. A 70s revival began, and a new generation of music lovers discovered Sayer. In 2005, Sayer relocated to Australia, becoming a citizen in 2009. In 2006, a DJ Meck remix of Thunder In My Heart was released and it was a surprise hit, reaching #1 on the UK Singles chart – his first top 10 hit in the UK in 24 years.
  • Sayer continued to tour and record through the 10s, with albums released in 2015, 2019 and 2022. Here’s Sayer performing his Grammy winning You Make Me Feel Like Dancing on The Midnight Special. Still can’t get over how the Grammy blue bloods considered this R&B!

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