Ruislip & Eastcote & Northwood Gazette
Leo still feels like dancing
As he embarks on a 50th anniversary tour, Leo Sayer sits down with KERRI-ANN ROPER to discuss the highs and lows of his long career
HE may be celebrating the milestone of 50 years as a recording artist, but Leo Sayer is, in his own words, “chomping at the bit to get going”.
The singer, 74, is embarking on a huge UK and Irish tour to celebrate his career, with more than 30 concert dates running to November.
He has already done a few gigs in Ireland and they “went down incredibly well”, he says enthusiastically.
Raised in Sussex, Leo moved to Australia more than a decade ago and in 2009 became an Australian citizen, but is thrilled to be back in the UK.
“Coming back to the UK, or Europe in general, is a bit of a thrill after being stuck with lockdown, so it’s been fantastic,” he says.
“The nice thing was that we rehearse the show with the British musicians that I use here. It all worked out incredibly, and we put a nice show together.”
Momentum is something the singer’s career has not been short of though. He achieved two consecutive US number ones with the Grammy award-winning You Make Me Feel Like Dancing and When I Need You (also his first UK chart-topper), and has a string of hits like Moonlighting, Long Tall Glasses (I Can Dance) and One Man Band in his catalogue.
You Make Me Feel Like Dancing, from his 1976 album Endless Flight, reached number two in the UK, while follow-up single When I Need You hit number one on both sides of the Atlantic.
He appeared a ed o on U UK TV sc screens ee s in n Celebrity Big g Brother in 2007, but quit the show after ter escaping through a fire exit
Music-wise se he has always been clear on his sound and sense of where he was going, and has some 16 albums as proof, with his latest being this year’s self-produced ced Northern n Songs, which sees s him offer up p his own take e on some of The Beatles songs written and composed by John Lennon, Sir Paul McCartney and George Harrison.
It was a project he started 10 years ago, having recorded four songs as a bit of an experiment to find out if he could make a record by himself.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit and the world paused, it provided an opportunity for Leo to pick up the project again.
“I’ve got to say I was very nervous about doing it, because I was taking quite a few liberties with the songs, really changing things around and doing different versions and things.
“I thought, ‘The Beatles purists are gonna kill me,’ but luckily, they haven’t yet!”
His own catalogue of albums and songs is also impressive though, and reflecting on his 50 years he says his creativity has stood him in good stead.
“First off, getting two number ones in a row in America with the Endless Flight album was the most stunning moment, because You Make Me Feel Like Dancing was one of the fastest number ones, apparently, in American history,” he says.
“To have things leap away like that, it’s incredible. I don’t know how you describe it, everything’s a surprise.”
He adds of his success that “it all happened very quickly”.
“And then you step on to the carousel and it runs and runs. I’ve been lucky in my life, but I’m a very creative person. So I never stopped writing songs and never stopped thinking of ideas. So that stood me in good stead.”
In 2006, his song Thunder In My Heart was re-mixed by DJ Meck, and the resulting track, Thunder In My Heart Again, spent two weeks at the top of the UK singles chart.
More recently, DJ Armand Van Helden also added his spin to the Meck version of the song.
Despite these new versions of his songs by other artists, Leo says he has no ambitions to collaborate with musicians such as Harry Styles or Adele.
“This kind of sounds strange, but not really,” he muses. “I’m very happy with my own path.
“There are a lot of new artists and they’re really good, but they’re all doing their own thing.
“We’re all on different wavelengths really these days. It’s very tough.
“It’s lovely when you see Paul McCartney getting up with the guys from the Foo Fighters the other night and that’s what we should be doing when it’s called for, we should be tributing people. I think that’s important.
“But other than that connection, what I do, I think, is pretty unique.
“I don’t think there are many singer-songwriters like me. It would be a little bit like asking Cat Stevens (now known as Yusuf Islam or just Yusuf ) to join in with The Rolling Stones, when he really has his own music.
“So I do my thing and I’m quite happy with that.”
■ Leo Sayer is currently on tour in the UK and details can be found at leosayer.com/shows