Music That Travelled Through Time...

Grammy Award-winning singer Leo Sayer will be holding a one-night only concert here soon. Orient reviews his long career, which started back in the 1970s.

By British Theatre Playhouse


Leo Sayer’s introduction to music started early. At the age of 16, the music of Buddy, The Crickets and Bob Dylan had a great influence on him. Rhythm and Blues, or R&B, became a genre that he took to, and he started singing with soul bands then.


His first music partnership started with promoter and songwriter David Courtney, which landed him in the pop genre right from his first album, Silverbird. The album was released in the UK and the US simultaneously; Leo even made an appearance on a BBC show. From then on, the entire industry became aware that a new star was born. The BBC then put Leo in Concert on TV and, by the time 1973 drew to a close, both the Melody Maker and The Sun newspaper (on the cover of its new year issue) proclaimed Leo as ‘The Star of ‘74.’

Leo’s success in the US led him to write songs such as ‘Long Tall Glasses,’ which was about his reaction to the US. It later became his first Top 10 record in the country. Leo’s highly exportable talents also became evident as his popularity extended to Australia, where he performed for the first time in 1974.


In the spring of 1976, Leo met Richard Perry in Los Angeles. Richard had a distinguished reputation in the US, having been a producer for Barbra Streisand, Harry Nilsson, Ringo Starr, Art Garfunkel and Diana Ross, among others. Richard produced the album that would prove to be Leo’s biggest success. During this period, Leo wrote two songs for the album with New Yorker Barry Mann and created ‘You Make Me Feel Like Dancing,’ which came from a jam session in the studio. He completed the song with co-writer Vini Poncia, who had produced Kiss and Ringo Starr. When the song was released in Sep 1976, it became Leo’s first American No. 1 hit.


The ricochet of Leo’s US success echoed around the globe. In Feb 1977, Leo got the biggest accolade of all, the coveted Grammy Award for Best Rhythm & Blues song, ‘You Make Me Feel Like Dancing.’ He also won awards in Britain (a BPI Award and a TV Times Award), Canada (a Juno Award), and Europe (Belgium’s Golden Lion). 1978’s Leo Sayer got introspective and showed another side of his talent, where he brought out his harmonica and put a country feel into songs. 1979 also saw the release of The Very Best of Leo Sayer, and Leo subsequently received the Best Male Artist at the 1978 British Pop and Rock Awards (now known as The BRIT Awards).


Cool Touch was released in 1990 on EMI. The single and its accompanying video introduced Leo to the new MTV and dance generation of the 1990s. Between 1991 and 1996, his career progressed steadily along similar lines. He toured the Far East, including Saigon, where he performed the first concerts since the Vietnam War. It was also around this time when a group called The Groove Generation hit the UK charts with a ‘90s style re-working of Leo’s classic, ‘You Make Me Feel Like Dancing,’ which featured Leo himself. This opened up an entirely new market for Leo, and he started appearing in discos and at university dances and balls throughout the UK to a younger crowd, who thought he was the epitome of chic. This kicked off the revival of the ‘70s, with Leo being one of the great pacesetters.


In 2000, Leo’s works started going truly international and took off across media platforms. In Feb 2000, ‘You Make Me Feel Like Dancing’ was featured in the hit movie, Charlie’s Angels. The accompanying soundtrack for that movie entered the US charts at No. 5, while the movie became a huge hit all over the world, both in theatres and on video.


In Dec 2007, Leo collaborated with Garth Porter on the album, Don’t Wait Until Tomorrow. The album’s lush tones and stylish re-workings of Leo’s most popular songs marked a special milestone in Leo’s long-running and continuously evolving career. Leo released the album 10 days after his 60th birthday.