Leo describes his career, which spans more than 40 years, as ‘long and colourful!’ Born Gerard Hugh Sayer on May 21st 1948, in Shoreham-by-Sea, his nickname Leo came thanks to his mane of characteristically curly hair. “My father Thomas had wiry, thick hair and my mum Teresa was Irish and had fine curly hair so I think I got the combination.” He’s still instantly recognised by his mass of curls which haven’t diminished. “I now live about 70 miles from Sydney in Australia and I was walking along the road just today and a chap shouted from his car, “Hey Leo, how’s it going mate?!” The musical influence he says came from the maternal side of his family. “My Irish grandfather father played instruments. He lived in County Fermanagh, and I remember there were always cèilidhs and everyone would play an instrument or tell a story. My dad, who was English, loved classical music so I also grew up with that influence plus he loved comedy. I think it’s him I get my sense of humour from. As for my music I found that by myself. I wanted to be an artist and so studied art at school. Whilst doing that I also fell in love with folk blues and so frequented the local folk clubs and sometimes I’d get up and play harmonica. It’s ironic that on this latest album, over 40 years since I began, there’s actually quite a bit of harmonica and I also play it live on the tour too.”
The tour is to promote his latest album Restless Years, which was released at the end of August. Recorded over just three months, this latest album features 13 entirely new compositions, all written and produced by Leo. “I think I’ve been getting more prolific over the years with my writing. A few things were paid forward, like the four songs on here that I wrote with Albert Hammond about ten years ago, and Sometimes Things Go Wrong comes from as far back as 1975.”
Leo’s musical career took off in 1972, when he met David Courtney through an audition in his home city of Brighton. Leo and David started writing songs together, and took these to Adam Faith, the former legendary pop singing icon from the 50s and 60s. Adam saw Leo’s potential immediately, and producing his first albums with David, steered the singer songwriter to almost instant success with 1973’s Silverbird, Leo’s debut album release. On the cover Leo was memorably dressed and made up as a white faced Pierrot, singing The Show Must Go On. Leo went on a British and European tour supporting Roxy Music, now appearing on stage dressed as the Pierrot. His wife Janice made the costumes and applied his make-up, and the two were quite inseparable.