RAW: Leo Sayer In Profile

‘Fame’, Leo Sayer’s first manager Adam Faith once quipped, ‘is being popular from six to 60.’ The diminutive Englishman, who now calls Sydney home, reckons under that definition he is indeed famous. As an example, his little remembered single from 1983 Orchard Road (it got to only #27 on Australian charts upon release) was the most played song on BBC Radio 2 last year.

‘The radio jocks just love these songs’ Leo says as he tries to explain the evergreen nature of his music. ‘Music from the 70s has survived because it plays well on radio. The music just grooves, it’s great to dance to.’

Admitting he never thought it would all be like this, Sayer compares his songs to having children – ‘you just can’t control the outcomes as they evolve.’

This dance aspect is what he believes has kept giving his 70s and 80s tunes new lives with younger generations. ‘One kid came up to me the other day and said ‘Leo, you are such a groovy fucker’ which was a bit of a shock given I am about to turn 63!’

Reflecting on the days before success really kicked in, Sayer says the most exciting moments were before the applause really set in. ‘With Adam Faith as my mentor, we just kept knocking on doors. There were so many times when we just got lucky with who was there at the time or this or that introduction. It was amazing.

‘Hearing the results of all that work for the first time on radio was great. Then, you hone your craft and become confident. But the biggest moment is when you are on the precipice of success, when it becomes all about you.’

Perhaps the biggest step forward came in 1969, when Leo, then still Gerry, met Adam Faith at a talent contest in 1969 and together they became a song writer and production partnership that lasted 30 years, ending only a few years before Faith died early last decade.

Faith was a successful song writing machine in the 1960s, the first UK artist to lodge his initial seven hits in the top 5. In the 1970’s he turned to theatre, financial journalism and managing Leo, whose career would take a similar path to his own of twenty years previous.

Whereas Faith’s music died, Leo’s has been sustained on radio, in remixes and with live performance Leo says it gets ‘another life.’

This year he is touring widely, recording a new album with his Sydney based band.

See and hear Leo’s Orchard Road at www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQEP0wtHTvg


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