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Leo Sayer

October 2009

It has been more than 30 years since Leo Sayer topped both the UK and US charts with his signature hit You Make Me Feel Like Dancing, so what makes him feel like dancing these days?
“Not a lot really,” he says.
“I hate to say it. It’s all clever but it’s all done for money. And it’s all very much a business.”
It annoys him that the industry seeks to “bury the past” and spend more on promoting new talent.
Which is one of the reasons he moved to Australia five years ago.
“The popularity I’ve had down here has always been great,” he says, hastily disposing of a Carr’s water biscuit.
“They’re a fine old thing. I’m also supping up a cup of Taylor’s of Harrogate tea. I must be thinking about England.”
He adds: “I hit the ground running here in 1974, I think. They put a huge campaign together before I arrived. So it was a bit like when The Beatles went to New York. It was mad.”
And he can still get regular bookings these days.
“I work all the time. I’m in the middle of a load of gigs at the minute. I’ve done about 82 shows in the last five years. It’s keeping me young.
“I miss England in a lot of ways but the lifestyle here is not that different. It’s just the weather. It’s like Lanzarote but a bit further,” he laughs.
Sayer, who had his biggest hits in 1977 with You Make Me Feel Like Dancing and When I Need You, has garnered a new generation of fans in Oz thanks to The Wiggles. The children’s TV phenomenon did a cover of You Make Me Feel Like Dancing and invited him on to the show.
“It’s been crazy. You know, I’m a single bloke at the moment and I’ll get in to a shopping centre and a very attractive lady of about 30 or 40 will come up to me and say ‘I adore your music’.
“And I think ‘ooh, this is cool’. Then she says: ‘Yes, me and my son listen to it every morning’.”
He recently converted a room in his Sydney home in to a recording studio in order to make new music.
“I’m still creative. If other people think of me as a nostalgic artist, that’s not really how I think of myself. I’m moving a little more with the times. I couldn’t make Beyonce or Jay-Z type of music. I just don’t know how to do that.”
Three years ago he was back at the top of the UK chart when Meck remixed his song Thunder In My Heart, although the marketing plan was to keep the name of Leo Sayer out of any publicity.
“First off they said ‘don’t tell anyone it’s Leo.’”
Bit of an insult, isn’t it?
“Yeah but that’s typical of English pop. We love to bury the past and reinvent. They spend more money on Duffy than they do on Dusty Springfield. I don’t understand it. Let’s kill anyone over 21 – that’s always been a British kind of thing.
“But it doesn’t work with the public because we all want to see Duran Duran again, Spandau Ballet again and hold on to Eric Clapton and Elton John. Look at The Beatles reissues. Kids will have spent more on The Beatles (Rock Band) game than the latest war games.
“The lasting power of music goes against the marketing ethic of ‘let’s find some new acts.’
“I say it’s The Beatles 10, Simon Cowell 0.”
It is nostalgia that brings Sayer to Nottingham next year on the Once In A Lifetime tour with The Osmonds, David Essex and the Bay City Rollers.
“Paul Young is a friend, he’s done it, and he was always telling me it’s a fun tour to do.”
It helps that he knows the other artists: “In those days we were all mates because we all did Top Of The Pops together.
“There was no video so we had to perform our songs live. There’d be David Bowie over there, Marc Bolan, David Essex, Mick Jagger, the Bay City Rollers... so, coming together for this tour, it was an easy thing for us to say yes to.
“There was a great camaraderie – none of that ‘I’d like to kill you’ kind of competition going on that there’s been in a lot of the acts since.
“I never had to be in hand-to-hand combat with David Essex for a place in the charts,” he laughs.
“There seemed to be room for all of us in those days. Maybe because pop music was so much more important as the voice of the age.”
Who is going to be the best and worst behaved on the tour?
“Who knows? We all grow up. Though I don’t think I’ve grown up as much as I thought I would. I don’t feel like a 61-year-old.”

Once In a Lifetime 2010 Tour with The Osmonds, David Essex, Leo Sayer and Les McKeown’s Bay City Rollers, Trent FM Arena Nottingham, June 28 2010, £36.50, 0844 8471726

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