Leo Sayer
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Leo Sayer

Leo Sayer
Sayer in 2009
Background information
Gerard Hugh Sayer
Born (1948-05-21) 21 May 1948 (age 70)
Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex, England
  • Musician
  • singer-songwriter
  • entertainer
LabelsChrysalis (United Kingdom)
Warner Bros. and Rhino (United States)
Universal (Aus)
Roger Daltrey

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

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").

Early life

Sayer was born to an English father and an Irish mother in Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex, where he attended St Peter's Catholic Primary School. Later he 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]

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 guests from a fire that damaged the first floor of the hotel. He was rescued by builders working on a block of flats beside the hotel.[6]


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.

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.

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, and he scored five consecutive Top 10 placings on the United Kingdom album chart between 1973 and 1977.

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.[]

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 the United Kingdom in a row 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 for Sayer to visit Presley at Graceland, Presley died.[]

In 1979, the compilation album The Very Best of Leo Sayer became Sayer's first United Kingdom #1 LP and his seventh consecutive United Kingdom Top 20 album – but, despite his popularity there, it failed to chart in the United States.[] 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][9][10]

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.[]

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".[11] 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.

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 was forced to sue 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 was forced to abandon 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.[12]

Later career

On 12 February 2006, he made a return to number one in the UK Singles Chart, with 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.[]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".[13]

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 catalogue re-arranged with strings and acoustic and jazz instrumentation.[][14]

In January 2009, Sayer became an Australian citizen, having lived in Sydney, New South Wales since 2005.[15]

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.[16]

In January 2015, Sayer released his latest album, Restless Years,[17] and toured from Perth across many places in Australia to Singapore, with various support acts including Jason Ayres.[18] In January 2015, Leo also featured in Singapore's Leo Sayer in Concert - 40 Years at the Top, presented by the British Theatre Playhouse.[19] In October 2015, Sayer was awarded with a Gold Badge of Merit from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.[20]

Personal life

Sayer and his wife Janice married in 1973, and divorced in 1985.[21] He then had a relationship with Donatella Piccinetti, with whom he moved to live in Australia,[22] but they separated in 2007.[23]

In January 2009, Sayer became an Australian citizen at the Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony in Canberra.[24]

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.

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 revealed that the tumor was benign. [25][26]



Year Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
1973 Silverbird 2 14 - - - - 209
1974 Just a Boy 4 3 - - 35 - 16
1975 Another Year 8 3 - - - - 125
1976 Endless Flight 4 7 15 20 4 27 10
1977 Thunder in My Heart 8 8 - 14 11 19 37
1978 Leo Sayer 15 8 - 12 21 18 101
1979 The Very Best of Leo Sayer 1 1 - 14 1 5 -
1979 Here 44 65 - 17 50 - -
1980 Living in a Fantasy 15 12 29 9 - 15 36
1982 World Radio 30 14 - 4 35 - -
1983 Have You Ever Been in Love 15 20 - - - - -
1988 Moonlighting (compilation CD[38]) - - - - - - -
1990 Cool Touch - - - - - - -
1993 All the Best 26 - - - - - -
1999 The Definitive Hits Collection 35 - - - - - -
1999 Live in London - - - - - - -
2004 Endless Journey -- The Essential Leo Sayer 52 - - - - - -
2005 Voice in My Head - - - - - - -
2006 Leo Sayer: At His Very Best 30 - - - - - -
2008 Don't Wait Until Tomorrow * - - - - - - -
2010 Leo Sayer: The Greatest Hits - - - - - - -
2015 Restless Years[39] - 39 - - - - -
2018 The Gold Collection 27 - - - - - -
    • - Australia release only


Year Single Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
1973 "Why Is Everybody Going Home" - - - -
"The Show Must Go On" 2 10 2 -
1974 "One Man Band" 6 38 - 96
"Long Tall Glasses (I Can Dance)" 4 7 - 9
1975 "Moonlighting" 2 13 - -
"Let It Be" - - - -
1976 "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" 2 2 1 1
1977 "When I Need You" 1 8 1 1
"How Much Love" 10 18 8 17
"Thunder in My Heart" 22 11 23 38
"Easy to Love" - - - 36
"There Isn't Anything" - - - -
1978 "Dancing the Night Away" - 15 - -
"I Can't Stop Loving You (Though I Try)" 6 37 - -
"Raining in My Heart" 21 93 - 47
1979 "When the Money Runs Out" - 90 - -
1980 "More Than I Can Say" 2 1 3 2
"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" 10 4 - -
"Heart (Stop Beating in Time)" 22 71 - -
1983 "Orchard Road" 16 17 - -
"Till You Come Back to Me" 51 81 - -
1984 "Sea of Heartbreak" 84 - - -
1986 "Unchained Melody" 54 77 - -
"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)
32 - - -
2006 "Thunder in My Heart Again"
(Meck featuring Leo Sayer)
1 16 - -



  1. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Leo Sayer: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d Rice, Jo. The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st edition), Guinness Superlatives Ltd, Middlesex, UK, p. 181; ISBN 0-85112-250-7
  3. ^ a b c Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 483. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  4. ^ "What I learnt at school: Leo Sayer". Teachsecondary.com. Retrieved 2015.
  5. ^ "Leo's Story - So Far...". Leo Sayer.com. 21 May 1948. Archived from the original on 10 March 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  6. ^ "Bedford Hotel, King's Road: Fire at the hotel". Mybrightonandhove.org. Retrieved 2013.
  7. ^ a b Roberts, David (2001). British Hit Singles (14th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 46. ISBN 0-85156-156-X.
  8. ^ Z1DO4U (26 March 2014). ""The Show Must Go On" ~ Leo Sayer ~ Muppet Show" – via YouTube.
  9. ^ Z1DO4U (26 March 2014). ""The Show Must Go On" ~ Leo Sayer ~ Muppet Show" – via YouTube.
  10. ^ Z1DO4U (19 February 2014). ""WHEN I NEED YOU" ~ Leo Sayer ~ Muppet Show" – via YouTube.
  11. ^ "Eric Woolfson's FREUDIANA -- The Musical". Ericwoolfsonmusic.com. Retrieved 2008.
  12. ^ Mark Anstead. "Fame and fortune: Singer who lost control of his notes". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015.
  13. ^ "At His Very Best - Leo Sayer - Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014.
  14. ^ "Leo Sayer: nostalgia tours are 'depressing'". 23 November 2008. Retrieved 2016.
  15. ^ "Seventies singer Leo Sayer becomes an Australian citizen". The Daily Telegraph. London, UK. 26 January 2009. Retrieved 2014.
  16. ^ Leo Sayer on IMDb
  17. ^ Paul Cashmere (13 December 2014). "Sample Leo Sayer's 2015 Album Restless Years". Noise11.com. Retrieved 2015.
  18. ^ "Perth Acoustic Singer Songwriter Solo". Jasonayres.com. 21 November 2014. Retrieved 2015.
  19. ^ "British Theatre Playhouse - Past Productions - At BTP, we pride ourselves on high standards equivalent to London's West End and offer UK casts comprising prominent stage, television and film actors. Every one of BTP shows has featured stars from London's West End. - SISTIC". www.britishtheatreplayhouse.com.
  20. ^ "2015 Gold Badge Award recipients revealed - M Magazine". 16 September 2015.
  21. ^ "Leo Sayer profile". nndb.com. 15 February 2007. Retrieved 2015.
  22. ^ Mark Anstead (20 November 2004). "Fame and fortune: Singer who lost control of his notes". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015.
  23. ^ "Leo Sayer says it's still so". Heraldsun.com.au. Retrieved 2015.
  24. ^ Dan Harrison. "Leo Sayer: pop icon becomes Australian citizen". Smh.com.au. Retrieved 2015.
  25. ^ Lewis, Roz (30 September 2013). "'Artists have to be good lovers': Singer Leo Sayer under the microscope". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2018.
  26. ^ Money, Lawrence (17 May 2014). "'Lunch with perennially perky musician Leo Sayer". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2018.
  27. ^ "Leo Sayer: Artist". Official Charts. Archived from the original on 14 September 2012. Retrieved 2011.
  28. ^ a b Leo Sayer chart positions in Australia:
  29. ^ "Discografie Leo Sayer". DutchCharts.nl. Retrieved 2011.
  30. ^ "Discography Leo Sayer". norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved 2011.
  31. ^ Steffen Hung. "Discography Leo Sayer". charts.org.nz. Retrieved 2011.
  32. ^ "Discography Leo Sayer". SwedishCharts.com. Retrieved 2011.
  33. ^ "Lero Sayer : Chart History". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2013.
  34. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Certified Awards Search Archived 24 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine.". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved on 27 September 2011. Note: User needs to enter "Leo Sayer" in the "Search" field, "Artist" in the "Search by" field and click the "Go" button. Select "More info" next to the relevant entry to see full certification history.
  35. ^ a b c d "Searchable Database". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2011. Note: User must define 'Artist' search parameter as "Leo Sayer".
  36. ^ "Certified Awards Search Archived 1 October 2012 at WebCite". Music Canada. Retrieved on 27 September 2011. Note: User needs to enter "Leo Sayer" in the "Search" field, "Artist" in the "Search by" field and click the "Go" button. Select "More info" next to the relevant entry to see full certification history.
  37. ^ "Musiikkituottajat - Tilastot - Kulta- ja platinalevyt". Ifpi.fi. Retrieved 2015.
  38. ^ "Moonlighting by Leo Sayer, 16 track compilation CD released by Festival Records in Australia, 1988". Retrieved 2017.
  39. ^ Cashmere, Paul (13 December 2014). "Sample Leo Sayer's 2015 Album Restless Years". Noise11. Retrieved 2015.
  40. ^ Lwin, Nanda. Top 40 Hits: The Essential Chart Guide (2000). ISBN 1-896594-13-1
  41. ^ Lister, David, Pop ballads bite back in lyrical fashion, The Independent (London), 28 May 1994

External links

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