About Billy Ocean
Billy Ocean is a Trinidadian-English recording artist who had a string of R&B international pop hits in the 1970s and 1980s. He was the most popular British R&B singer-songwriter of the early to mid-1980s. After scoring his first four UK Top 20 successes, seven years passed before he accumulated a series of transatlantic successes, including three US No. 1's. His 1985 hit "When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going" reached No. 1 in the UK and No. 2 in the US. In 1985, Ocean won the Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for his worldwide hit "Caribbean Queen " and in 1987 was nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Male Artist. His 1988 hit "Get Outta My Dreams, Get into My Car" reached No. 1 in the US and No. 3 in the UK.
In 2002, the University of Westminster, London, awarded Ocean an honorary doctorate of music. 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 Sir Paul McCartney. He is a member of the Rastafari movement.
Ocean was born as Leslie Sebastian Charles in Fyzabad, Trinidad and Tobago, to Hainsley Charles, a Grenadian musician and his wife Violet. His family moved to Romford, London, England, when he was ten years old in 1960, just before Trinidad and Tobago became independent. He was exposed to music at an early age. During his teenage years, he sang regularly in London clubs while also working as a tailor in London's Savile Row. He was discovered by his first manager, John Morphew, who recorded a double A-side single at Pye Studios in London with a full orchestra. However, the ballad singing style of Les was going out of fashion and Morphew was unable to get any major label to release it. It remains unreleased. Les's father—who had countersigned the management contract as Les was underage—asked Morphew to release him from contract, which he did without penalty. In 1969, he joined a local band, The Shades of Midnight, playing in the Shoreditch area of London. He recorded his first single, "Nashville Rain", backed with "Sun in the Morning" in 1971 for Spark Records as Les Charles, and for two years fronted a studio band called Scorched Earth, with whom he released "On the Run" backed with "Let's Put Our Emotions in Motion" in 1974.
Ocean took his stage name from the Ocean Estate, Stepney in London's East End, where he was living at the time. In 1976, he recorded his first album, Billy Ocean, with its first single release, "Love Really Hurts Without You", charting at No. 2 in the UK Singles Chart and No. 22 in the US Billboard Hot 100. He enjoyed club success from the songs "Are You Ready" and "Stay The Night" from the album City Limit—both of which were later covered by La Toya Jackson. More successes ensued, including "L.O.D. ". He also wrote and composed songs for other artists. In 1981, he scored the US R&B chart with "Nights ."
Ocean's period of greatest success began with the releases, during 1984, of the album Suddenly and its main single, "Caribbean Queen ". The song's title and lyrics were changed for different regions, such that the song is also known as "African Queen" or "European Queen". The song won Ocean the Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance at the 1985 Grammy Awards and was also nominated for Best R&B Song, losing to "I Feel for You" by Prince . Ocean was later presented his award by Shalamar group member Jeffrey Daniel on 620 Soul Train, a UK incarnation of the American music dance show Soul Train. The album's title track also became a success, peaking at No. 4 in both the US and the UK and the song "Loverboy", while also being a No. 2 US success in 1985 was also featured in the first scene of the popular UK BBC One TV series Casualty, in 1986. Ocean appeared at Live Aid in 1985, singing "Caribbean Queen" and "Loverboy", from JFK Stadium in Philadelphia.
His 1986 album Love Zone also sold well. It included the successful singles "When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going", the theme from the film The Jewel of the Nile; this was a No. 1 success in the UK and a No. 2 in the United States; and "There'll Be Sad Songs " . Also included were the title track and "Love Is Forever", which were No. 10 and No. 16 US successes for Ocean, respectively. It also earned Ocean a second nomination for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance at the 1987 Grammy Awards.
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