THE SHOW MUST GO ON
I’ve still got my heart and my hair, says Leo Sayer, so...
Leo Sayer is as synonymous with the 1970s as flared trousers, Lyons Tea Minstrels and Green Shield Stamps. If you have to ask your mum, dad or their parents what they are, then you probably won’t be in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre next month to see the English performer. By all accounts, many people will, as tickets are selling briskly. Hits such as When I Need You, Moonlighting and One Man Band are classics of the era.
Although a remix of his 1977 hit Thunder In My Heart went to number one in 2006 and he has never stopped recording new songs, Sayer knows people will want to hear hits from his heyday.
‘I’ve just turned 70 and it’s incredible that people still want to see me,’ he says.
‘I remember an interview Mick Jagger gave after they had a few hits and he said, “I’d give us three more years!” My last compilation went into the top 30. It put me side by side with Ed Sheeran and Beyoncé. How could that not make anyone happy?’
It’s a statement typical of an artist who always appeared to be one of the nice guys of showbusiness. That assumption took a bit of a dent when he appeared on Celebrity Big Brother in 2007 and almost literally broke out of the house. That subject was placed out of bounds for this interview, but he told the Mail Online last year: ‘They find a nice guy like Leo and make fun of him. When I broke out, I had bruises on my arm from where the security guy held me. It was horrible, and I lost my temper.
‘I’m not very proud of what I said, but I wanted to break away from this guy who was really hurting me.’
Sayer first appeared on Top Of The Pops in 1973 wearing a sad ‘Pierrot’ clown costume singing a song he co-wrote called The Show Must Go On. He followed it up with One Man Band. The latter track had already been covered by The Who frontman Roger Daltrey on his first solo album that year. Sayer considers the Daltrey imprimatur as a crucial part of his own ascent to stardom.
‘We were recording songs at Roger’s studio and he heard them and said, “I would like to record songs like these,”’ Sayer recalls.
‘Roger recorded One Man Band and Giving It All Away and he really promoted us. He took every opportunity to say great things about Leo Sayer [speaking of himself in the third person is a trait] .
‘He was at the peak of his game and he took a chance on a young writer and his songs on his first solo album. It was just the most incredible leg-up you could wish for. I am not sure of the chances of that happening today.’
Sayer now lives in Australia, after he says he felt ‘almost redundant’ in Britain. He is ‘extremely happy’ there and ‘completely appalled’ by Brexit.
‘It’s just the stupidest decision the British people have made in… I really can’t think how long. What it is, is a coup by the aristocracy and the mega-rich to take all the wealth and power for themselves.’
For himself after some health scares in his sixties, he declares himself ‘fighting fit’. ‘Bob Dylan said recently: “I don’t want to stop performing because I’ll forget my words and my memory will go.”
‘I went through heart problems but now I’m fighting fit again. I’ve got my heart, my hair, my legs and I’m performing my ass off.’
Leo Sayer plays the Bord Gais Energy Theatre on September 15. See leosayer.com.
‘Brexit is a coup by the aristocracy and the mega-rich to take all the wealth for themselves’
one man band: Leo in his hirsute heyday in the seventies and, left, still sporting the same curly mop