Meet Billy Ocean [PHOTOS, VIDEOS]
Billy Ocean was a huge, international recording star in the mid to late-1980′s…but he was on the music scene in England long before!
Billy Ocean was born Leslie Sebastian Charles in Trinidad, on January 21, 1950. At the age 8, he and his family moved to England.
“Billy’s” dad was a musician, and an early influence. In his teens, Billy sang in the local London clubs, while working as a tailor. I can remember hearing Casey Kasem tell the story in the 1980′s, of how Billy Ocean also worked in a Ford Plant in London installing wiper blades on new cars, before hitting it big.
Billy’s first manager recorded a song in a London studio with Billy, backed by a full orchestra. But, he couldn’t get a major label to release the song, as Billy’s ballad singing style of the early 1970′s was falling out of favor. The song was never released.
His first single was released in England in 1972, under the name Les Charles.
Afterwards, he took the stage name Billy Ocean from the “Ocean Estate” in London, where he was living.
1976 brought Billy’s first album, “Billy Ocean” with the first single “Love Really Hurts Without You.”
The song was a #2 smash in England, and a respectable #22 here in the U.S. I really like the song, with its 1960′s Motown-inspired sound (that’s my impression). Feel free to comment below!
While Billy remained active in England, singing in the clubs and writing songs for others, it would take another 8 years (and a new decade) for him to achieve worldwide acclaim…
Ocean’s period of greatest success began with the 1984 release of the album “Suddenly,” and its main single, “Caribbean Queen (No More Love On The Run)”
Caribbean Queen was #1 for 2 weeks in 1984! Did you know that the song’s title and lyrics were changed for different parts of the world? For example, the song was also known as “African Queen” or “European Queen.” The song earned Billy Ocean the 1985 Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal!
The album’s title track “Suddenly” also became a success, peaking at #4 in both the US and the UK .
“Loverboy” rose #2, in early 1985.
Ocean appeared at Live Aid in July 1985, singing “Caribbean Queen” and “Loverboy”, at JFK Stadium in Philly.
His 1986 album “Love Zone” also sold well, including the singles “When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going” (#2/1986)
“There’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)” was Ocean’s next #1 song (1986).
The single “Love Zone” went to #10…
“Love Is Forever” went to #16 on the charts.
At the 1987 BRIT Awards, Ocean was nominated for the “Brit Award” for Best British Male.
Ocean’s next album, “Tear Down These Walls” (1988) featured another number one single, “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car.”
The song (#1 for 2 weeks) was also featured in the teen movie “License To Drive.”
The adult-oriented “The Colour Of Love” would go to #17 on the Hot Hits charts in the Fall of 1988.
“License To Chill” would be Ocean’s last chart entry, at #32 in 1989.
Billy Ocean’s 1989 “Greatest Hits” compilation continues to sell well…
A 1993 album, “Time To Move On,”
Ocean’s last effort for JIVE Records, was ignored.
In the above interview clip (from 1993), Billy talks about why he took a hiatus from the music business…who inspires him…and more!
In 2002, London’s University Of Westminster awarded Ocean an Honorary Doctorate of Music.
In 2007, Ocean toured England for the first time in 15 years. In 2008, he toured Australia and the Far East.
2009 brought the new album “Because I Love You.”
This is a 2009 interview from New Zealand…showing a wiser, reflective Billy Ocean on the comeback trail…
Sony Music released “The Very Best Of Billy Ocean” in 2010, and Billy toured England and Ireland.
In October 2010, Ocean was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award in England.
In July 2011, Billy Ocean became a Companion of the Liverpool Institute For Performing Arts. His title was presented by Paul McCartney!
Billy Ocean continues to tour, and record in Europe He lives in Sunningdale, Berkshire (England) with his wife of over 25 years, Judy; and their three children: Cherie, Antony and Rachel.