Leo Sayer

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Leo Sayer
Leo Sayer in 2009
Background information
Birth name Gerard Hugh Sayer
Born (1948-05-21) 21 May 1948 (age 66)
Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex, England
Genres Pop, rock, pop rock, soft rock, disco[1]
Occupation(s) Musician, singer-songwriter,
Instruments Vocals, guitar, harmonica
Years active 1973–present
Labels Chrysalis (United Kingdom)
Warner Bros. and Rhino (United States)
Universal (Aus)
Associated acts Roger Daltrey
Website leosayer.com
Notable instruments
Sayer performing on Dutch television in 1974

Leo Sayer (born Gerard Hugh Sayer on 21 May 1948)[2] is a British-born singer-songwriter musician, and entertainer (now an Australian citizen and resident) whose singing career has spanned four decades. Sayer launched his career in the UK 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 one-time manager, Adam Faith.[3]

Early life[edit]

Sayer was born on 21 May 1948 to an Irish mother and English father in Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex, England.[2] He was initially discovered by musician David Courtney, who then co-managed him with the 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.[4]


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 hit without The Who in 1973.[2]

That same year, Sayer began his career as a recording artist, under the guidance of his manager, former teen idol turned Adam Faith, who signed Sayer to the Chrysalis label in the UK and Warner Bros. Records in the USA. His debut single ""Why Is Everybody Going Home" failed to chart but he shot to national prominence in the UK with his second single "The Show Must Go On", which Sayer performed on British TV wearing a pierrot-style costume and make-up. The single went quickly to #2 on the UK chart[2], as did his debut album Silverbird, for which Sayer wrote nine of the eleven tracks; the other two tracks were co-written with Courtney, who co-produced the album with Adam Faith.

His subsequent singles were all major UK hits - "One Man Band" went to #6 in 1974; "Long Tall Glasses" (UK #4, 1974) became his first US Top Ten hit, reaching #9, and "Moonlighting" went to #2 in the UK 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 UK, and he scored five consecutive Top 10 placings on the UK album chart between 1973 and 1977. He also began to achieve success as an album artist in the USA, where his second LP Just A Boy (1974) reached #16. His fourth album Endless Flight (1976) consolidated his international popularity, reaching #4 in the UK and #10 in the USA; 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 UK and the USA, and double-platinum in Canada.

In 1977, he had a US number one 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 UK and US. Written by Albert Hammond and Carole Bayer Sager, it was Sayer's first UK chart-topper (after three number two hits) and his second successive US number one.[5] It was also the first of two UK chart-toppers in a row for producer Richard Perry.[5] In 1979 the compilation album The Very Best of Leo Sayer became Sayer's first UK #1 LP and his fifth consecutive Top 20 album in the UK, although curiously it failed to chart at all in the USA.

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 US, 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, Le Chainon manquant in 1980. In 1981 he was the voice of 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.[citation needed]

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".[6]

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).

In the mid-1980s, when Sayer and his first wife Janice divorced, he discovered that former manager Adam Faith had badly mishandled his business affairs and that much of the millions of pounds Sayer had earned in the 1970s had been siphoned off through 'questionable expenses'. Sayer subsequently sued Faith for mismanagement; 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 while he fought a lengthy but ultimately successful legal battle against his former label, Chrysalis, to regain the publishing rights to his songs. In 1996 Sayer began legal action against his new management after he discovered that his pension fund had allegedly been mismanaged to the tune of some £1m. Unfortunately, despite spending more than £90,000 in legal fees, the case never made it to court and Sayer was forced to abandon it when he ran out of funds.[7]

On 12 February 2006, he made a surprise 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 UK Top 10 for almost 24 years, and his second UK chart-topper, almost three decades after his first.[citation needed] Leo Sayer: At His Very Best, a career-spanning compilation album, was released in the UK on 6 March 2006. It featured the Meck single, alongside "When I Need You" and "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing".[8] In 2008, Sayer released a new album 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 in an entirely new setting, re-arranged with strings and acoustic and jazz instrumentation.[citation needed]

In January 2009, Sayer became an Australian citizen, having lived in Sydney, New South Wales since 2005.[9]

Sayer has appeared in various TV 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.

Personal life[edit]

Sayer married his wife Janice in 1973 and they remained married until their divorce in 1985.[10] He then had a relationship with Italian-born Donatella Piccinetti, with whom he moved to live in Australia,[11] but they split in 2007. [12]



Year Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
1973 Silverbird 2 - - - - 209
1974 Just a Boy 4 - - 35 - 16
1975 Another Year 8 - - - - 125
1976 Endless Flight 4 15 20 4 27 10
1977 Thunder in My Heart 8 - 14 11 19 37
1978 Leo Sayer 15 - 12 21 18 101
1979 The Very Best of Leo Sayer 1 - 14 1 5 -
1979 Here 44 - 17 50 - -
1980 Living in a Fantasy 15 29 9 - 15 36
1982 World Radio 30 - 4 35 - -
1983 Have You Ever Been in Love 15 - - - - -
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 * - - - - - -
  • * - Australia release only


Year Single Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
1973 "Why Is Everybody Going Home" - - -
"The Show Must Go On" 2 - -
1974 "One Man Band" 6 96 -
"Long Tall Glasses (I Can Dance)" 4 9 -
1975 "Moonlighting" 2 - -
1976 "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" 2 1 1
1977 "When I Need You" 1 1 1
"How Much Love" 10 17 8
"Thunder in My Heart" 22 38 23
"Easy To Love" - 36 -
"There Isn't Anything" - - -
1978 "Dancing The Night Away" - - -
"I Can't Stop Loving You (Though I Try)" 6 - -
"Raining in My Heart" 21 47 -
1979 "When the Money Runs Out" - - -
1980 "More Than I Can Say" 2 2 3
"Once in a While" - - -
"Shake the Hand" - - -
"Takin' the Brakes Off" - - -
1981 "Living in a Fantasy" - 23 14
1982 "Have You Ever Been in Love" 10 - -
"Heart (Stop Beating in Time)" 22 - -
1983 "Orchard Road" 16 - -
"Till You Come Back to Me" 51 - -
1984 "Sea Of Heartbreak" - - -
1986 "Unchained Melody" 54 - -
"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) (Hit position #16 in Australia)
1 - -



  1. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Leo Sayer: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Rice, Jo. The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits, first ed., 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. ^ "Bedford Hotel, King's Road: Fire at the hotel". Mybrightonandhove.org. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Roberts, David (2001). British Hit Singles (14th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 46. ISBN 0-85156-156-X. 
  6. ^ "Eric Woolfson's FREUDIANA - The Musical". Retrieved 29 May 2008. 
  7. ^ Mark Anstead, "Singer who lost control of his notes", The Guardian, 20 Nov. 2004 (accessed 27 Jan. 2015)
  8. ^ "At His Very Best - Leo Sayer - Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". Allmusic. Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  9. ^ "Seventies singer Leo Sayer becomes an Australian citizen". The Daily Telegraph (London). 26 January 2009. Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  10. ^ http://www.nndb.com/people/322/000049175/
  11. ^ http://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2004/nov/20/features.jobsmoney2
  12. ^ http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/leo-says-its-still-so/story-e6frf7jo-1111116489987
  13. ^ "Leo Sayer: Artist". Official Charts. Retrieved 30 December 2011. 
  14. ^ "Discografie Leo Sayer". DutchCharts.nl. Retrieved 11 October 2011. 
  15. ^ "Discography Leo Sayer". norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved 11 October 2011. 
  16. ^ Steffen Hung. "Discography Leo Sayer". charts.org.nz. Retrieved 30 December 2011. 
  17. ^ "Discography Leo Sayer". SwedishCharts.com. Retrieved 11 October 2011. 
  18. ^ "Lero Sayer : Chart History". Billboard.com. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Certified Awards Search". 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.
  20. ^ a b c d "Searchable Database". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 27 September 2011.  Note: User must define 'Artist' search parameter as "Leo Sayer".
  21. ^ "Certified Awards Search". 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.
  22. ^ "Certified Awards Search". Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved on 11 October 2011.
  23. ^ Lwin, Nanda. Top 40 Hits: The Essential Chart Guide (2000). ISBN 1-896594-13-1
  24. ^ Lister, David, Pop ballads bite back in lyrical fashion, The Independent (London), 28 May 1994

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