“Success can create more madness than happiness.”
Billy Ocean was born Leslie Sebastian Charles in Fyzabad, Trinadad and Tobago on January 21, 1950. In 1960, his family moved to Romford London, England. Because his father, Hainsley Charles, was a musician Leslie was exposed to music at a young age. He was inspired by soul singers such as Otis Redding and Sam Cooke as well as pop singers like the Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Ocean would attend choir practice with his two older sisters. His head schoolteacher was so impressed by his voice that they would often enter him into singing competitions. He started singing at clubs when he was a teen as well as being a tailor. While singing, he was discovered by John Morphew who recorded him with a full orchestra. But, becuase his singing style was considered “old”, no major label would touch him and Leslie’s father ultimately helped him get released from his management contract with John Morphew with no penalty. In 1969, he joined a local band and recorded his first single “Nashville Rain”. Then he recorded “Sun in the Morning in 1971 as Les Charles for Spark Records. He was the lead singer of a studio band called Scorched Earth, which is when he released “On the Run” and “Let’s Put Our Emotions in Motion” in 1974.
Rise to Fame
In 1975, Leslie Charles adopted the named Billy Ocean.
In 1976 Billy Ocean recorded his first album entitled “Billy Ocean“. It charted Number 2 in the UK Singles Chart and Number 22 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. He gained much success from songs “Are You Ready” and “Stay the Night”, which were covered by LaToya Jackson, Michael Jackson’s sister. “Love on Delivery” was also a popular song that brought him great success.
In 1984, Ocean released the album “Suddenly” and the main single included the song “Caribbaen Queen”, whose name and lyrics were changed depending on the region. For example, the song is also known as “African Queen” or “European Queen”.The song peaked on U.S and U.K. charts. Also on the album, the song “Loverboy” peaked at Number 2 on U.S. charts.
In 1985, he won a Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance and was nominated for B est R&B song.
In 1986, he released the album “Love Zone”. A few songs on the album were quite popular. For example, “When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Gets Going.” was a Number 1 hit in the U.K. and Number 2 in the U.S. It was even the theme for the film “The Jewel of the Nile”. “There’ll Be Sad Songs(To Make You Cry)” was Number 1 in the U.S. This album helped Ocean earn a second Grammy nomination for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance at the 1987 Grammy Awards.
Also in 1987, Ocean was nominated for Best British Male for the Brit Awards.
His succeeding album “Tear Down These Walls‘, went platinum. “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car” was also a Number 1 single.
Billy Ocean’s last album ” Time to Move On” failed at getting the attention of audiences and gathered no major success, even though it included R&B sensation, R. Kelly.
In 1978, Billy Ocean married Judy Bayne and had three children: Antony, Cherie Charles, and Rachel.
To the right is a photo of Billy Ocean with children Antony and Cherie Charles.
Billy Ocean has sold over 20 million records and has made history as the first Black Briton to have a record achieve success in the U.S. as number 1. He was also a popular song-writer, writing songs for artists such as LaToya Jackson, Millie Jackson, Randy Crawford, The Dells, and more.