Leo Sayer

Last updated

Leo Sayer
Sayer in 2009
Background information
Birth nameGerard Hugh Sayer
Born (1948-05-21) 21 May 1948 (age 71)
Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex, England
  • Musician
  • singer-songwriter
  • entertainer
Years active1973–present
Labels Chrysalis (United Kingdom)
Warner Bros. and Rhino (United States)
Universal (Aus)
Associated acts Roger Daltrey
Website Leosayer.com

Leo Sayer (born Gerard Hugh Sayer, 21 May 1948) [2] is an English-Australian singer-songwriter musician and entertainer whose singing career has spanned four decades. He is now an Australian citizen and resident.

Singer-songwriter musician who writes, composes and sings

Singer-songwriters are musicians who write, compose, and perform their own musical material, including lyrics and melodies.


Sayer launched his career in the United Kingdom in the early 1970s, and became a top singles and album act on both sides of the Atlantic in the 1970s. [3] His first seven hit singles in the United Kingdom all reached the Top 10  – a feat first registered by his first manager, Adam Faith. [3] His songs have been sung by other notable artists, including Cliff Richard ("Dreaming").

Single (music) Type of music release usually containing one or two tracks

In the music industry, a single is a type of release, typically a song recording of fewer tracks than an LP record or an album. This can be released for sale to the public in a variety of different formats. In most cases, a single is a song that is released separately from an album, although it usually also appears on an album. Typically, these are the songs from albums that are released separately for promotional uses such as digital download or commercial radio airplay and are expected to be the most popular. In other cases a recording released as a single may not appear on an album.

Album collection of recorded music, words, sounds

An album is a collection of audio recordings issued as a collection on compact disc (CD), vinyl, audio tape, or another medium. Albums of recorded music were developed in the early 20th century as individual 78-rpm records collected in a bound book resembling a photograph album; this format evolved after 1948 into single vinyl LP records played at ​33 13 rpm. Vinyl LPs are still issued, though album sales in the 21st-century have mostly focused on CD and MP3 formats. The audio cassette was a format widely used alongside vinyl from the 1970s into the first decade of the 2000s.

Atlantic Ocean Ocean between Europe, Africa and the Americas

The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest of the world's oceans, with an area of about 106,460,000 square kilometers. It covers approximately 20 percent of the Earth's surface and about 29 percent of its water surface area. It separates the "Old World" from the "New World".

Early life

Sayer was born to Thomas E G Sayer, an English father and Theresa Nolan, an Irish mother, in Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex where he attended St Peter's Catholic Primary School. He was the second child of three siblings - Michael, b. 1939, and Brian b. 1951. He later attended Blessed Robert Southwell (now Chatsmore) in Goring-by-Sea. [4] before studying commercial art and graphic design at West Sussex College of Art and Design in Worthing, Sussex. [5]

Shoreham-by-Sea seaside town and port in West Sussex, England

Shoreham-by-Sea is a seaside town and port in West Sussex, England.

Sussex historic county in South East England

Sussex, from the Old English Sūþsēaxe, is a historic county in South East England corresponding roughly in area to the ancient Kingdom of Sussex. It is bounded to the west by Hampshire, north by Surrey, northeast by Kent, south by the English Channel, and divided for many purposes into the ceremonial counties of West Sussex and East Sussex. Brighton and Hove, though part of East Sussex, was made a unitary authority in 1997, and as such, is administered independently of the rest of East Sussex. Brighton and Hove was granted City status in 2000. Until then, Chichester was Sussex's only city.

Goring-by-Sea village in United Kingdom

Goring-by-Sea is a neighbourhood of the Borough of Worthing in West Sussex, England, about 2 miles (3.2 km) west of Worthing town centre. Since 1929 Goring has been part of the Borough of Worthing.

He was initially discovered by musician David Courtney, who then co-managed and co-produced him with former pop singer turned manager, Adam Faith. [2] In January 1967, while 18-year-old Sayer was working as a hall porter at the King's Hotel in Hove, he assisted in the rescue of elderly guests from a serious fire that damaged the first floor of the hotel. He himself was rescued from the blazing hotel by builders working on a block of flats beside the hotel. [6]

David Courtney is a British singer-songwriter and record producer. Courtney's first big break was as a songwriter with Adam Faith and Leo Sayer; Courtney co-wrote several hit songs with them and he co-produced Faith's 1974 album, I Survive. He released one album of his own on United Artists in 1974 entitled David Courtney's First Day which had some success on both sides of the Atlantic, and peaked at number 194 on the US Billboard 200.

Adam Faith English singer, actor and financial journalist

Terence Nelhams-Wright, known as Adam Faith, was a British teen idol, singer, actor and financial journalist. He was one of the most charted acts of the 1960s. He became the first UK artist to lodge his initial seven hits in the Top 5. He was also one of the first UK acts to record original songs regularly.

Hove Town on the south coast of England, part of city of Brighton & Hove

Hove is a town in East Sussex, England, immediately west of its larger neighbour Brighton, with which it forms the unitary authority Brighton and Hove. It forms a single conurbation with Brighton and some smaller towns and villages running along the coast. As part of local government reform, Brighton and Hove were merged, to form the borough of Brighton and Hove in 1997. In 2001, the new borough officially attained city status.


Sayer began his music career co-writing songs with David Courtney, including "Giving It All Away", which gave Roger Daltrey of The Who his first solo hit in 1973. [2] The same year, Sayer began his career as a recording artist under the management of Adam Faith, who signed Sayer to the Chrysalis label in the United Kingdom and Warner Bros. Records in the United States.

Giving It All Away 1973 song performed by Roger Daltrey

"'Giving It All Away'" was a 1973 single release by Roger Daltrey, the lead singer of The Who. The song was written by the then unknown Leo Sayer with David Courtney. Adam Faith produced the track.

Roger Daltrey English lead vocalist of The Who

Roger Harry Daltrey is an English singer and actor. Daltrey is a founder member and lead singer of the rock band the Who, which released 14 singles that entered the Top 10 charts in the United Kingdom during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, including "I Can't Explain", "My Generation", "Substitute", "I'm a Boy", "Happy Jack", "Pictures of Lily", "Pinball Wizard", "Won't Get Fooled Again", and "You Better You Bet". Daltrey began his solo career in 1973, while still a member of the Who. Since then, he has released eight studio albums, five compilation albums, and one live album. His solo hits include "Giving It All Away", "Walking the Dog", "Written on the Wind", "Free Me", "Without Your Love", "Walking in My Sleep", "After the Fire", and "Under a Raging Moon". In 2010, he was ranked as number 61 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 greatest singers of all time.

The Who English rock band

The Who are an English rock band formed in London in 1964. Their classic line-up consisted of lead singer Roger Daltrey, guitarist and singer Pete Townshend, bass guitarist John Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon. They are considered one of the most influential rock bands of the 20th century, selling over 100 million records worldwide.

His debut single "Why Is Everybody Going Home" failed to chart, but he achieved national prominence in the United Kingdom with his second single, the music hall styled song "The Show Must Go On", which Sayer performed on British television, wearing a pierrot costume and makeup. The single went to #2 on the chart in the United Kingdom, [2] as did his debut album Silverbird, co-written with David Courtney, who co-produced the album with Adam Faith. Three Dog Night's cover, the group's last Hot 100 top 10 record, reached #4 on 25 May 1974.

Music hall Type of British theatrical entertainment popular between 1850 and 1960

Music hall is a type of British theatrical entertainment that was popular from the early Victorian era, beginning around 1850. It ended, arguably, after the First World War, when the halls rebranded their entertainment as variety. Perceptions of a distinction in Britain between bold and scandalous Victorian Music Hall and subsequent, more respectable Variety differ. Music hall involved a mixture of popular songs, comedy, speciality acts, and variety entertainment. The term is derived from a type of theatre or venue in which such entertainment took place. In North America vaudeville was in some ways analogous to British music hall, featuring rousing songs and comic acts.

The Show Must Go On (Leo Sayer song) 1973 single by Leo Sayer

"The Show Must Go On" is a song co-written by Leo Sayer and David Courtney and first recorded by Sayer. It was released in the United Kingdom in 1973, becoming Sayer's first hit record. The song reached #3 on the Irish Singles Chart in January 1974, and was included on Sayer's debut album Silverbird.

Pierrot stock character of pantomime and Commedia dellArte

Pierrot is a stock character of pantomime and commedia dell'arte whose origins are in the late seventeenth-century Italian troupe of players performing in Paris and known as the Comédie-Italienne; the name is a diminutive of Pierre (Peter), via the suffix -ot. His character in contemporary popular culture—in poetry, fiction, and the visual arts, as well as works for the stage, screen, and concert hall—is that of the sad clown, pining for love of Columbine, who usually breaks his heart and leaves him for Harlequin. Performing unmasked, with a whitened face, he wears a loose white blouse with large buttons and wide white pantaloons. Sometimes he appears with a frilled collaret and a hat, usually with a close-fitting crown and wide round brim, more rarely with a conical shape like a dunce's cap. But most frequently, since his reincarnation under Jean-Gaspard Deburau, he wears neither collar nor hat, only a black skullcap. The defining characteristic of Pierrot is his naïveté: he is seen as a fool, often the butt of pranks, yet nonetheless trusting.

His subsequent singles were all major hits in the United Kingdom "One Man Band" went to #6 in 1974, "Long Tall Glasses" (UK #4, 1974) became his first Top Ten hit in the United States, reaching #9, and "Moonlighting" went to #2 in the United Kingdom in 1975. In 1976, Sayer recorded three Beatles songs, "I Am the Walrus", "Let It Be", and "The Long and Winding Road" for the Beatles-themed concept film, All This and World War II . His albums in this period were also consistently successful in the United Kingdom: he scored five consecutive Top 10 placings on the United Kingdom album chart between 1973 and 1977.

Sayer performing on Dutch television in 1974 Leo Sayer - TopPop 1974 06.png
Sayer performing on Dutch television in 1974

He also garnered success as an album artist in the United States, beginning with his second LP Just A Boy (1974), which reached #16. His fourth album Endless Flight (1976) consolidated his international popularity, reaching #4 in the United Kingdom and #10 in the United States; it also charted strongly in other countries including Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, and New Zealand, and was certified as a platinum album in both the United Kingdom and the United States, and double-platinum in Canada.[ citation needed ]

The peak of his career came in 1977, when he achieved two consecutive number one hits in the United States, first with the disco-styled "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" (a Grammy Award winner for the year's best Rhythm and Blues Song), followed by the romantic ballad, "When I Need You" (1977), which reached number one in both the United Kingdom and United States. Written by Albert Hammond and Carole Bayer Sager, it was Sayer's first #1 single in the United Kingdom (after three number two hits). [7] It was also the first of two chart-toppers in a row in the United Kingdom for producer Richard Perry. [7]

While touring Memphis in August 1977, his knee faltered and he was taken to the hospital by a security guard who also worked for Elvis Presley. A couple of days later he and Presley made arrangements to meet, but on the day they had scheduled to visit at Graceland, Presley died. Sayer stated so in a TV interview on the UK show Lorraine, broadcast 3 May 2017.[ citation needed ]

In 1979, the compilation album The Very Best of Leo Sayer became Sayer's first United Kingdom No. 1 LP and his seventh consecutive United Kingdom Top 20 album but, despite his popularity there, it failed to chart in the United States (probably due to its not being released in the U.S.).[ citation needed ] Sayer also guest-starred in the second episode of the third season of The Muppet Show , and performed "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing", "The Show Must Go On", and "When I Need You". [8] [8] [9]

Sayer also made cover versions of Bobby Vee's Sonny Curtis-Jerry Allison composition "More Than I Can Say" (his fourth UK #2 hit and US #2), and Buddy Holly's "Raining in My Heart" (1979) and "Orchard Road" in 1983. In the United States, three of his singles "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" (1977), "When I Need You" (1977) and "More Than I Can Say" (1980) were certified gold.[ citation needed ]

Sayer provided songs for the soundtrack of the French–Belgian animated film The Missing Link (Le Chainon manquant) in 1980. In 1981, he voiced Dan the forest ranger in The Raccoons on Ice , the second of four specials serving as a predecessor to the Canadian animated series The Raccoons . He also sang several songs for the special, all of which were included on the 1983 album Lake Freeze .

In 1990, he contributed to the last studio collaboration between Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson, Woolfson's solo album Freudiana , performing "I Am A Mirror". [10] Sayer performed at the Sanremo Music Festival in 1990, with "The Moth And The Flame" (English version of "Tu... sì" by Mango) and, in 1991, with "All Alone" (English version of "Dubbi No" by Mietta).

Financial difficulties

After a decade of success, Sayer's career suffered repeated setbacks due to a series of financial and legal problems. When Sayer and his first wife Janice divorced in 1985, subsequent financial disclosure revealed Adam Faith had badly mishandled his business affairs and that much of the millions of pounds he had earned over the previous decade had been lost through Faith's questionable investments and business expenses.[ citation needed ]

Sayer sued Faith for mismanagement; and the case was eventually settled out of court in 1992, with Sayer receiving a reported payout of £650,000. In the early 1990s, his career stalled again while he fought a protracted but ultimately successful legal battle against his former label, Chrysalis, to regain the publishing rights to his songs.

In 1996, Sayer sued his new management, after he discovered that his pension fund had allegedly been mismanaged to around £1 million. Despite spending more than £90,000 in legal fees the case never made it to court and Sayer abandoned the suit for reasons of cost. He assembled a band led by former Van Morrison guitarist Ronnie Johnson and toured his way back to financial security. They recorded a live album, Live in London, which was released in 1999. [11]

Later career

On 12 February 2006, he made a return to number one in the UK Singles Chart, with DJ Meck's remix of "Thunder In My Heart". It was his first appearance in the United Kingdom Top 10 for almost twenty-four years, and his second chart-topper in the United Kingdom, almost three decades after his first.[ citation needed ]Leo Sayer: At His Very Best, a career spanning compilation album, was released in the United Kingdom on 6 March 2006. It featured the Meck single, alongside "When I Need You" and "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing". [12]

In June 2008, Sayer released a new album only in Australia, Don't Wait Until Tomorrow. This album, produced by Garth Porter (from the Australian pop band Sherbet), and released by Universal Music Australia, featured selections from his catalog re-arranged with strings and acoustic and jazz instrumentation.[ citation needed ] [13]

In January 2009, Sayer became an Australian citizen, having lived in Sydney, New South Wales, since 2005. [14]

Sayer has appeared in various television shows including The Muppet Show (1978's Episode 3.02 on which he sang "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing", "The Show Must Go On", and "When I Need You"); The Wiggles 2008 DVD, You Make Me Feel Like Dancing, which featured Sayer's hit of the same name; Celebrity Big Brother UK in 2007; and the Australian television comedy, Stupid, Stupid Man . In the episode "Days of Wine and D'oh'ses" of the television series The Simpsons , a character mentions Sayer as being another singer he likes, after Elvis Presley. [15]

In January 2015, Sayer released his album, Restless Years, [16] and toured from Perth across many places in Australia to Singapore, with various support acts including Jason Ayres. [17] In January 2015, Sayer also featured in Singapore's Leo Sayer in Concert – 40 Years at the Top, presented by the British Theatre Playhouse.[ citation needed ] In October 2015, Sayer was awarded with a Gold Badge of Merit from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors. [18]

On 3 May 2019, Sayer released his latest album, Selfie on Demon Records. It was recorded at his home studio at The Barn, Plainlands, Queensland, Australia. [19]

At Union Chapel, Islington, 3 May 2019, on the Just A Boy at 70 Tour Leo Sayer Union Chapel.jpg
At Union Chapel, Islington, 3 May 2019, on the Just A Boy at 70 Tour

Personal life

Sayer and his wife Janice married in 1973, and divorced in 1985. [20] He then had a relationship with Donatella Piccinetti, with whom he moved to live in Australia, [21] but they separated in 2007. [22]

In January 2009, Sayer became an Australian citizen at the Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony in Canberra. [23]

Health problems

Sayer is dyslexic. He still suffers from the effects of injuries to his legs and ankles that were caused by a fall off a stage in 1977.[ citation needed ]

Sayer's family has a history of cancer; both his parents died of cancer, as did other family members on both sides. On his 65th birthday, after experiencing intestinal problems, Sayer was given a colonoscopy which revealed he had intestinal ulcers and a tumor. He underwent surgery which successfully treated both problems and said that the tumor was benign. [24]



YearAlbum detailsPeak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
1973 Silverbird 214----209
1974 Just a Boy 43--35-16
1975 Another Year 83----125
1976 Endless Flight 47152042710
1977 Thunder in My Heart 88-14111937
1978 Leo Sayer 158-122118101
1979 The Very Best of Leo Sayer 11-1415-
1979 Here 4465-1750--
1980 Living in a Fantasy 1512299-1536
1982 World Radio 3014-435--
1983 Have You Ever Been in Love 1520-----
1988Moonlighting (compilation CD [36] )-------
1990 Cool Touch -------
1993 All the Best 26------
1999The Definitive Hits Collection35------
1999Live in London-------
2004Endless Journey — The Essential Leo Sayer52------
2005Voice in My Head-------
2006Leo Sayer: At His Very Best30------
2008Don't Wait Until Tomorrow *-------
2010Leo Sayer: The Greatest Hits-------
2015Restless Years [37] -39-----
2018The Gold Collection27------
2019Selfie [38] -------


YearSinglePeak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
1973"Why Is Everybody Going Home"-----
"The Show Must Go On"210216-
1974"One Man Band"638--96
"Long Tall Glasses (I Can Dance)"47--9
"Let It Be"-----
1976"You Make Me Feel Like Dancing"22111
1977"When I Need You"18141
"How Much Love"101881017
"Thunder in My Heart"2211232138
"Easy to Love"--351936
"There Isn't Anything"-----
1978"Dancing the Night Away"-15-31-
"I Can't Stop Loving You (Though I Try)"637---
"Raining in My Heart"2193--47
1979"When the Money Runs Out"-90---
1980"More Than I Can Say"21352
"Once in a While"-87---
"Shake the Hand"-----
"Takin' the Brakes Off"-----
1981"Bye Bye Now My Sweet Love"-50---
"Living in a Fantasy"--14-23
1982"Have You Ever Been in Love"104---
"Heart (Stop Beating in Time)"2271---
1983"Orchard Road"1617---
"Till You Come Back to Me"5181---
1984"Sea of Heartbreak"84----
1986"Unchained Melody"5477---
"Real Life"-----
1990"Cool Touch" (Germany)-----
1992"I Will Fight for You" (Germany)-----
1993"When I Need You" (re-issue)65----
1998"You Make Me Feel Like Dancing"
(Groove Generation featuring Leo Sayer)
2006"Thunder in My Heart Again"
(Meck featuring Leo Sayer)


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