Leon Lai

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Leon Lai

LeonLai2006 (cropped).jpg
Leon Lai in 2006
Born (1966-12-11) 11 December 1966 (age 53)
Alma materKingsway Princeton College
OccupationSinger, actor, record company manager
Years active1985–present
Height1.8 m (5 ft 11 in)
(m. 2008; div. 2012)
Partner(s)Shu Qi (1997–2004)
Wing Chan (2017–present)
Children1 daughter, with Wing Chan
Hong Kong Film AwardsBest Original Film Song
1999 City of Glass

Golden Horse AwardsBest Original Song
1997 Eighteen Springs
Best Actor
2002 Three Going Home

New Talent Singing Awards – 1986 Second Runner-up

Musical career
GenresCantopop, Mandopop
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, piano
Labels1990–1998 PolyGram
1998–2004 Sony Music
2004 -Amusic
Chinese name
Lai Chit

Leon Lai-ming SBS BBS MH (born 11 December 1966), is a Hong Kong actor and Cantopop singer. He is one of the "Four Heavenly Kings" of Hong Kong. He uses the stage name "Li Ming" or "Lai Ming", which literally means "dawn".

Early life[edit]

Lai was born in Beijing, China as Lai Chit (), initially, but opted for Lai Ming instead. He is of Hakka ancestry.[1] His family was originally from Meixian. His parents divorced when he was four. He migrated with his Indonesian Chinese father, Lai Xinsheng, to Hong Kong during the Cultural Revolution in China. At the age of 15, he attended Lewisham College in the United Kingdom, but returned to Hong Kong at 18 in 1984.[2][3][4]


Early years[edit]

Lai initially worked as a salesperson for a mobile phone company.[2] After being awarded second-runner-up in the 1986 New Talent Singing Awards, Lai received vocal coaching from Dai Si Zong (戴思聰).[citation needed] In the same year he signed with Capital Artists.[5] He did not release any albums for four years. As a result, his teacher, Dai, arranged to have him signed a contract with Polygram, later known as Universal Music.[6]


In Polygram, he released his first album "Leon" and subsequent album "Meet in the Rain". His debut album went gold.[7]

In the early stages of his career, he mainly sang Cantopop and Mandarin, but due to the influence of producer Mark Lui, he expanded his repertoire to include popular electronic songs with compelling music videos. In 1990 he won his first 1990 Jade Solid Gold Top 10 Awards and 1990 RTHK Top 10 Gold Songs Awards.[8][9] He followed up to win the "Most Popular Male Singer" award in 1993 and 1995 for TVB Jade Solid Gold.[10][11] In 1996, he collaborated with composer-producer Steve Barakatt on his album "Feel". Two years later in 1998, he became the first Hong Kong singer to reach the Top 10 K-pop chart with the song "After Loving You."[12]

In 2002 he was selected to sing "Charged Up", the 2002 FIFA World Cup theme song for the Greater China region.[13] In 2004, he became the first Hong Kong singer to represent the territory at the first Asia Song Festival held in South Korea.[14]

Lai was selected to be the ambassador of the 6th Winter Asian Games to be held Changchun in 2007. He sang the Games' theme song and took part in the torch relay.[15] He then joined Michael Wong and Janice Vidal and held a three-day "Magic Live" charity concert at Star Hall, Hong Kong from November 9th to 11th, 2008.[16]


Apart from being a solo artist, Lai has collaborated with other artists. Some of his better known collaborations are "Love Until the End" and "A Happy Family" with Vivian Chow, "Really Wish to Be Like This Forever" and "It's Still You" with Priscilla Chan, "Song of the Star" with Alan Tam, "Never Give Up" with Jacky Cheung, "Why did I let you go?" with Janice Vidal.[17]

Company founder and singer[edit]

In 2004, Lai formed a new record production company, "A Music", East Asia Record Production Company Limited, with Peter Lam. The first album produced by the company, "Dawn" was released in September of that year. The album, "Dawn", was released with minimum promotion as Lai went to Mainland China for a movie shoot on the day of the album's release.[18]

In 2005, Lai invited Taiwanese music producer Jonathan Lee to produce his new Mandarin album "A Story". However, by doing so he had to give up the opportunity for a lead role in a big budget Taiwan movie "Gui Si" due to conflicts in his schedules.[19]

He returned to the Hong Kong Coliseum on 13 April 2007 to perform in his one night only Leon 4 in Love Concert, where he performed not only his own hits but also hits from the other three heavenly kings. He performed a total of 18 songs, all of which are newly arranged by Mark Lui. He subsequently released an album titled "4 in Love" on 3 May 2007, comprising 16 of the 18 songs he had performed at the concert.[20]

In 2004, Paciwood co-invested with Esun Group to develop a music record company, East Asia Record Production Limited, with the music label Amusic.[21]

Acting career[edit]

After the New Talent Singing Awards, he had some opportunities to star in a few TV series. On one occasion, he went for the filming of a romantic serials titled, Fengyun Era, in Taiwan. There was a stark contrast in height between Lai and the popular lead actress who is only 160 cm tall. The actress then demanded that Lai squat while filming so as to make up for the height differences. Lai had to act through all the scenes with the actress while squatting, but he had to endure it as he was not popular at the time. Not long afterwards his new TVB series, The Breaking Point, turned out to be a resounding success and propelled him to widespread fame in Hong Kong and Taiwan.[22]

In 1996, Lai was nominated for the Best Actor award at the 16th Hong Kong Film Awards for the film Comrades: Almost a Love Story. The following year in 1997, he won the award of Best Original Song for the film Eighteen Springs both at the Golden Horse Film Festival and Hong Kong Film Awards. He was again nominated for the Best Actor and Best Original Film Song award for the film City of Glass in 1999, but he only won the award for the latter, which he shared with Albert Leung and Dick Lee.[23]

Lai was considered by Lee Ang to act as Li Mu Bai in the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but he had to turn down the offer as he had an advertising contract and live concert about to start, which would not match his shaven head look as was required for the role.[24]

He collaborated with Cecilia Cheung in 2001 for the first time in the Wong Jing directed romantic comedy film, Everyday Is Valentine. In the film, Lai played a serial liar.[25]

In 2002, Lai took the spotlight at the Golden Horse Awards, the Chinese-language version of the Oscars in Taiwan. He won Best Actor for Three: Going Home. Lai played a minor role as Superintendent Yeung Kam Wing in Infernal Affairs III in 2003. In 2004, he starred with Faye Wong in the romantic film Leaving Me, Loving You, the story of which he co-wrote with Wilson Yip and he was also the creative/production controller of the film. However, the movie was a flop as it raked in HK$ 10,529,501 at the box office.[26] Still in that same year he was ranked 8th on the China Celebrity 100 list released by the Chinese edition of Forbes.[27]

In 2005 Lai acted as one of the seven warriors in the Tsui Hark directed wuxia film, Seven Swords.[28] In the same year in the film Moonlight in Tokyo, he played a developmentally challenged Chinese man who pretends to be a Korean gigolo in Japan.[29]

In 2006 Lai starred alongside Fan Bingbing and Rene Liu in a love and horror, thriller film titled The Matrimony where he played a cinematographer Shen Junchu, the love interest of Manli and Sansan. JunChu was pressurised into marrying Sansan after the untimely demise of his true love Manli in an accident. The film was released on 8 February 2007.[30]

In 2007, Lai starred alongside Kelly Chen, Donnie Yen and Guo Xiaodong in the Ching Siu-tung film An Empress and the Warriors. He acted as a woodland medicine man who has a romantic relationship with a princess. Lai and Kelly Chen sang the theme song, "Fly With Your Dreams" written by Albert Leung and composed by Mark Lui.[31]

He underwent training in Peking Opera for playing the lead role as Méi Lánfāng in the biographical film Forever Enthralled which was directed by Chen Kaige. He directed the music video for the film where he and Zhang Ziyi sang the theme song, "You Understand My Love".[32] For the first time in his career, Lai played the role of a beggar in the Peter Chan directed film Bodyguards and Assassins.[33] For his success a wax figure of Lai was revealed at Madame Tussauds Hong Kong.[34]


Apart from being an actor and singer, Lai is actively involved in the Community Chest. In the 1990s, he began serious charity work when his father was diagnosed with rectal cancer. The doctors said it was incurable. After the surgical operation, his father survived. When the Cancer Research Foundation and the UN organization approached him for help, he started getting actively involved in charity work.[35]

His first work with UNICEF was a China polio eradication project in 1993. He raised substantial funds accruing from his supporters, fans, and concert ticket sales. In July 1994, he was appointed the International UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, thus becoming the first Hong Kong citizen to be given this position. Since 1994, he has been involved in various fundraising activities of The Hong Kong Committee for UNICEF (HKCU). These activities include seven charity concerts, three charity chocolate sales, and charity walkathons. Lai, along with HKCU representatives, visited Rwanda, Gansu of China, and Brazil to study the work of UNICEF and to help promote public awareness to help children.[36] In December 1995, he was appointed as "UNICEF Special Representative to Youth" at the New York headquarters recognizing his contributions for the welfare of the children.[36]

Lai has also been elected as one of The Ten Outstanding Young Persons (TOYP) in 1997, giving him a formal recognition of his professional endeavors and commitment to the community.[37] He bought the first donation ticket, numbered 000001, at a "Children's Education Fund Raising Campaign" launch event at Tsuen Wan PARKnSHOP's Skyline Superstore in 2001 to encourage people to contribute to a meaningful social cause. The funds raised were donated to the Community Chest.[38]

He was awarded the Medal of Honour (M.H.) on 12 October 2003 by Tung Chee-Hwa, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong.[37]

Since his decision not to receive any music award in Hong Kong, he has not appeared on the TVB Jade Gold Solid Awards ceremony even as a guest, but to secure more funds for charity, he agreed to perform in the ceremony as a guest performer on 8 January 2005. On 13 May the same year, Lai collaborated with Mark Lui to compose the song "8858". The song was used as the promotional song for the China Children and Teenagers' Fund (CCTF). The title of song means "Help Me (which sounds like 'bang bang wo ba' in Putonghua)" and the number "8858" represents the SMS number people can use to donate the money.[39][40]

In December 2005, Lai appeared in a Hong Kong government television advertisement in support of a gradual political reform package tabled by the ruling government rather than rapid political reform. This was the first time he got himself involved in a politically motivated advertisement.[41]

Personal life[edit]

Lai was once in a relationship with actress Shu Qi in 1997, but they broke up on a low note in 2004.[42]

In 2008, Lai secretly married model Gaile Lok in Las Vegas at the Wynn Hotel, with his manager and assistant acting as witnesses.[43] On 3 October 2012, the couple announced the end of their four-year marriage. Their joint statement stated that there were "different philosophies in life" which caused the divorce.[44]

In 2017, Lai formed a relationship with his label assistant and later sales manager Chan Wing-yee (陳泳儀), who is 19 years his junior and also a divorcee. On 22 April 2018, Chan gave birth to his daughter.[45]

Commercial anthem incident[edit]

In 2000, Lai's song All Day Love (全日愛) got him into trouble with the Chinese authorities for drawing passages from the Chinese National Anthem, March of the Volunteers. The starting tune was accused of plagiarism from the anthem. Lai was warned against using the song for commercial purposes.[46][47]


(# Literal translation)

Year English title Original title Label
2011 X U Amusic
2010 Leon Lai New + Best Selections: Fireworks 烟火
2008 It's Me 是我
2007 4 in Love
2006 Looking
2005 Long Lasting Love# 長情
A Story 一个故事
Love & Promises (2004/2005 Special Edition) 愛與承諾#
2004 Leon Dawn
Leaving Me Loving You OST 大城小事原聲大碟
2002 Homework Sony Music Entertainment (HK)
Leon Charged Up 2002世界盃衝鋒陷陣
2001 The Red Shoes 紅鞋
The Red Shoes...Evolution 紅鞋...進化#
2000 Beijing Station 北京站
You Are My Friend (Korean Version)
Hot & Cool (Japanese Version)
Leon Club Sandwich
1999 Eyes Want to Travel# 眼睛想旅行
Leon Now
Never Ever (Korean Version)
None But Me 非我莫屬
Leon Now (Korean Version)
1998 I Love You Like This 我這樣愛你
City of Glass OST 玻璃之城電影原聲大碟
If I Can See You Again 如果可以再見你
If I Can See You Again (Japanese Version) 如果可以再見你
Korean Soundtrack
City of Glass OST (Korean Version) 玻璃之城電影原聲大碟
If I Can See You Again (Korean Version) 如果可以再見你
Longing 嚮往 Polygram (HK)
1997 If 假如#
Disagreement of Words and Thoughts 口不對心
DNA Gone Wrong DNA出錯
I Love You So Much (Korean Version) 我這樣愛你
The World of Leon Lai (Korean Version)
Leon Sound
1996 Perhaps
Why Aren't You My Future 為何你不是我的未來
Feel 感應
1995 Great Passion Between Sky and Earth 天地豪情
Dream Chase 夢.追蹤
Love is Hard to Get 愛難求
1994 Love Between Sky and Earth 天地情緣
Stay For Me 為我停留
My True Heart is Presented to You 我的真心獻給你
Destined Love + Compilation 情緣
Red Hot Fire Dance 火舞艷陽
1993 My Other Half 我的另一半
Summer of Love 夏日傾情
Autumn Dawn 深秋的黎明
Chateau de Reve 夢幻古堡
1992 Hope We Are Not Just Friends 但願不只是朋友
Accumulating All My Love 堆積情感
The Most Charming Person Compilation 傾城之最
I Love You, OK?
1991 Just Wanna Be Close to You 親近你
Its Love. Its Destiny 是愛是緣
Personal Feeling 我的感覺
Will You Come Tonight 今夜你會不會來
1990 Meet in Rain 相逢在雨中



Year English title Original title Role Notes
2019 Old Men
2018 Wine War 搶紅 Wei-li
2016 The Choice: A Story of the Old Shanghai
Night Peacock[48] 夜孔雀
The Guest 不速之客
The Secret 消失愛人
2015 Lady of the Dynasty 王朝的女人·杨贵妃 Emperor Xuanzong of Tang
2013 One Night Surprise 一夜惊喜 Tiger
2011 White Vengeance 鴻門宴 Lau Bong
2010 Frozen 為你鍾情 Cheung Wai-kit
Fire of Conscience 火龍
2009 The Magic Aster
The Founding of a Republic 建國大業 Cai Tingkai
Bodyguards and Assassins 十月圍城 Liu Yubai
2008 Forever Enthralled 梅蘭芳 Mei Lanfang
An Empress and the Warriors 江山美人 Dun Lan Fong
2007 The Matrimony 心中有鬼 Shen Junchu
2006 A Melody Looking 緣邀知音] Leon
2005 Moonlight in Tokyo 情義我心知 Li Tze-Jun
Seven Swords 七劍 Yang Yuncong
2004 Leaving Me, Loving You 大城小事 Chow Chang/Zhou Qian Won - Changchun Film Festival for Best Actor
2003 Infernal Affairs III 無間道 Yeung Kam-wing
Golden Chicken 2 金雞2 Doctor Chow Man Kwong
Heroic Duo 雙雄 Jack Lai HK$8,453,877
2002 Three 三更 Yu Fai Won Golden Horse Award for Best Leading Actor
Nominated Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actor
Nominated Golden Bauhinia Awards for Best Actor
2001 Bullets of Love 不死情謎 Sam
Everyday Is Valentine 情迷大話王 OK Lai
Dream of a Warrior 天士梦 Song Chen
2000 Skyline Cruisers 神偷次世代 Mac
Sausalito 一見鍾情 Mike
1998 A Hero Never Dies 真心英雄 Jack
City of Glass 玻璃之城 Hui Kong Shen Nominated Golden Horse Award for Best Leading Actor
Nominated Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actor
Love Generation Hong Kong 新戀愛世紀 Bill
1997 God of Gamblers 3: The Early Stage 賭神3之少年賭神 Ko Chun
Killing Me Tenderly 愛你愛到殺死你 Lai Su-Kan
Eighteen Springs 半生緣 Chen Shijun
1996 Comrades: Almost a Love Story 甜蜜蜜 Lai Siu Kwan Nominated Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actor
1995 Fallen Angels 墮落天使 Wong Chiming
1994 Love and the City 都市情緣 Liang Zhi-wu
Run 仙人掌 Lam Man-fai
1993 City Hunter 城市獵人 Kôtetsu/Gundam
1992 The Sword of Many Loves 飛狐外傳 Wu Fei
Gun n' Rose 龍騰四海 Siu Lam
The Magic Touch 神算 Yau Ho-Kay
The Wicked City 妖獸都市 Renzaburô Taki (dragon)
With or Without You 明月照尖東 Ming
Shogun and Little Kitchen 伙頭福星 Lam Fung
1991 Fun & Fury 痴情快婿 Wai Hon
The Banquet 豪門夜宴 Cook
Fruit Punch Yes一族 Ming
1989 Four Loves 四千金 Dongni
Hearts, No Flowers 少女心
Missing Man 都市獵人 Simon
1987 Mr. Handsome 美男子 Johnny

Television series[edit]

Year English Title Original title
2018 Ever Night[49] 将夜
1994 Class of Distinction 阿SIR早晨
1993 The Legendary Ranger 原振俠
1991 The Breaking Point 今生無悔
Challenge of Life 人在邊緣
1990 Cherished Moments 回到未嫁時(挑戰未來)
1989 Song Bird 天涯歌女
Chun Mun Kong Chuen Kei 晋文公傳奇
Period of Glory 風雲時代
1988 Bing Kuen 兵權
Yankee Boy 回到唐山
1987 A Friend in Need 飛越霓裳
1986 Foundlings Progress 男兒本色

[50] [51]


At Hong Kong Coliseum:

Year Date English Title Chinese Title No. of Shows Sponsor
2016 28 Apr - 8 May Leon 30th Anniversary Random Love Songs 4D Live 8 Tiffany & Co.
2009 16–19 July Leon Dream Wedding Live 4 Chow Tai Fook
2007 13 Apr Leon 4 in Love Concert 1 3
2005 10–15 Oct Leon Crazy Classic Concert 6 Johnnie Walker Black Label
2001 14–16; 21–25; 28–31 Dec Leon Live Is Live Concert 12 CitiBank
1999 20 Nov – 12 Dec Leon Live 99 23 AXA
1997–98 20 Dec – 8 Jan Leon Lai Live 97 20 G Sushi 元祿壽司
1995 2–27 Nov Neon Leon Live 95 那一夜我們在霓虹下起舞 26 Hang Seng Bank Credit Card
1993 8–25 Aug Summer of Love Concert 夏日傾情演唱會 20 Saab
1992 7–14 Oct Night Devotion Live # 一夜傾情演唱會 10 Kao

(Note: # indicate literal translation)


Awards and nominations[edit]

Lai was rewarded for his loyalty to the Hong Kong Government in July 2019 by the award of its second highest honour, the Silver Bauhinia Star. The award highlighted particular mention of "his participation in the promotional footage for the Hong Kong Mortgage Corporation Annuity Plan in 2018".[53]

Lai's industry awards and nominations are listed in the tables below.

Year Awards Albums
2001 IFPI HK Top 10 Sales Album Leon Club Sandwich
IFPI HK Top 10 Sales Mandarin Album The Red Shoes
IFPI HK Top Sales Male Artist
1998 IFPI HK Platinum Disc I Love You Like This
1997 IFPI HK Platinum Disc IF
IFPI HK Platinum Disc Feel
IFPI HK Gold Disc Leon's ...
IFPI HK Gold Disc Leon Sound


Commercial Radio
Year Awards Songs
1998 Best Male Artist:Silver
Favourite Male Artist
No.3 professional recommendation Jin Shen Bu Zai
Best Co-operation Leon Lai and Hutchison Telecom
1997 Best Male Artist:Gold
Favourite Male Artist
Top 10 Songs professional recommendation Only if you love me for a day
Favourite Song Only if you love me for a day
10th anniversary Top 10 Artists
1996 Best Male Artist:Gold
Best Ads Song Unspoken words of sentiment
Four Media IFPI Top award Perhaps
1995 Best Male Artist:Bronze
Top 10 Songs professional recommendation Danger tracking
1994 Most Played Artist:Bronze
Top 10 Songs Not one day I don't think of you
Favourite Song Not one day I don't think of you
Most Favourite Live Performance Not one day I don't think of you
Top Composed Song Not one day I don't think of you
1993 Best Male Artist:Bronze
Favourite Songs Not willing to leave you tonight
Summer Devotion
Summer is burning
1992 Most Played Artist:Bronze
Favourite Song My Love
Wish We Are Not Just Friend
1991 Most Played Artist:Bronze
1990 Most Played Artist:Silver


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  • Yiu-Wai, Chu (2017). Hong Kong Cantopop: A Concise History. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. pp. 112–114. ISBN 9789888390588.

External links[edit]