Legendary singer Billy Ocean holds the prestigious title of being the biggest selling British black artist of all time and was the most popular British R&B singer-songwriter of the early to mid-1980s. He has sold over 30 million records in his lifetime, and collected a pile of gold and platinum records across the world.
Having hit the number one spot worldwide on pop charts including the USA, Australia, Germany, Holland and the UK, Billy has achieved extraordinary success as both an artist and a songwriter.
Billy got his first break when he signed to GTO records, with whom his second single was Motown classic Love Really Hurts Without You, which reached number two in the UK charts and number 12 in the US.
Two top twenty singles followed - Love on Delivery and Stop Me, then Red Light Spells Danger became a smash in both the UK and the US.
Billy changed record labels and his move to Jive Records provided instant success, with the million selling American number one single Caribbean Queen, which won Billy a Grammy for best R&B vocal.
The Trinidad born recording artist had a string of R&B and pop hits in the 70s and 80s, including Suddenly, When the Going Gets Tough, Get Outta My Dreams Get Into My Car and Loverboy.
Career highlights include performing at Live Aid in 1985 from JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, and working on the Jewel of the Nile film with Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito, providing the theme song.
Billy Ocean is one of the hardest working artists and continues to tour the world. He released double CD Here You Are: The Best of Billy Ocean featuring a selection of his greatest hits and new tracks last year.
Here’s some facts on Billy Ocean…
- Billy Ocean was born Leslie Sebastian Charles
- Born in Trinidad, Billy settled in London’s East End when he was just seven years old
- He cites his early influences as Otis Redding and Sam Cooke, as well as pop groups like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones
- He worked as a tailor in London’s Savile Row during his teenage years
- Ocean has an extra pulmonary node between his two perfectly functional lungs. The nodule was discovered by doctors and Ocean’s long career is credited to its existence
- Caribbean Queen is known in Africa as African Queen and in Europe as European Queen
- In 1985 he won the Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for his worldwide hit, Caribbean Queen
- In 1987 he was nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Male Artist
- He practices Rastafarianism
- Ocean was awarded an honorary doctorate of music from the University of Westminster, London in 2002
- In 2007 he went on tour, with his daughter Cherie providing backing vocals
- He even made a cameo appearance in the British comedy movie Keith Lemon, playing his father
- In 2010, Ocean was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the MOBO Awards
- On 29 July 2011, Ocean became a companion of the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, presented to him by Paul McCartney
- His son Anthony played rugby sevens at the 2014 Commonwealth Games for Barbados.
How many of these Billy Ocean songs do you remember?
- Red Light Spells Danger earned silver status in the UK, after it reached number two in 1977
- In 1976, he recorded his first album, Billy Ocean, with its first single release, Love Really Hurts Without You. It reached number two in the UK Singles Chart
- Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run) reached number one on both the soul singles and Hot 100 in the US and number six in the UK Singles Chart. The song also won Ocean the 1985 Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance and he was the first British artist to win that category
- Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car went to number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and peaked at number three on the UK Singles Chart
- When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Gets Going features on the soundtrack of the movie The Jewel Of The Nile. The film's three stars Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito featured as lip-synching backing singers in the music video, but because they were not members of the Musicians Union, Ocean's video was banned in the UK. However, the song became Ocean's only number one UK hit
- Love Zone reached number one on the Billboard R&B chart and was his third single to hit the top spot in America
- There'll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry) was Ocean's 1986 album Love Zone and went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart
- Suddenly reached the top five on the UK Singles Chart in mid-1985, peaking at number four. One of Ocean’s greatest ballads
- Loverboy was Ocean's second single from his 1984 album, Suddenly. It reached number 15 on the UK Singles Chart in February 1985
- Stop Me (If You've Heard It All Before) reached number 12 in the charts.