THE SHOW MUST GO ON

I’ve still got my heart and my hair, says Leo Sayer, so...

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - MORE MUSIC - Leo Sayer DANNY McELHINNEY

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

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