Born Les Charles, the artist who would become Billy Ocean started out in the business at a young age singing in clubs while still a teen and working by day as a Saville Row tailor! Although he recorded his first music while still a teenager, he would be 26 before he broke though in the charts in 1976 with Love Really Hurts Without You, which reached number 3 in Ireland spending seven weeks on the chart. It hit number 2 in the UK and even broke the US top 40 reaching number 22.
The song was taken from his self-titled debut album and Billy Ocean had arrived but, although there were more hits in the late 70s it would be the 80s in which he really made his mark. In 1984 he released a track which would not only become one of his signature songs but also won him the Grammy award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 1985. Caribbean Queen hit number 7 in Ireland, number 6 in the UK and number 1 in numerous territories including the US.
the track featured on from album Suddenly and he also enjoyed hits with the titular track and Loverboy, which hit number 21 in Ireland and number 15 in the UK. The song became noted for its sci-fi themed video! It was very different to anything he’d previously done and features an alien rider on horseback riding up the coast to a bar built inside a cave. He tries to attract the attention of a female alien inside the cave, and after he shoots her partner with a laser, they ride off on the horse together at the end. Billy appeared in a pyramid hologram performing the song.
The lead single from his next album Love Zone became a worldwide sensation helped in part by featuring in the massive hit movie The Jewel Of The Nile. In February 1986 it hit number one in Ireland and the UK as well as Australia and Canada and numerous other territories, and number 2 in the US. The video featured the film’s stars Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito and was actually banned by the BBC because the trio were non-union members and were miming the song!
Thirteen years later the song was a huge hit again when Boyzone released a cover of it which also hit number one.
Billy’s next album Tear Down These Walls was released two years later in 1988 and it’s lead single was another huge hit. Get Outta My Dreams Get Into My Car was number one in Ireland, number three in the UK and a worldwide chart topper. The title was actually based on a line in the 1960 Sherman Brothers’ song You’re Sixteen.
As the 80s drew to a close Billy would not enjoy the same dizzying chart heights again but nowadays he is an extremely popular live artist who still writes and records. His most recent album One World was released in 2020. He’s won numerous awards for his body of work in the preceding decades and we can’t wait to see him perform at this year’s festival.
Billy Ocean plays the ‘Forever Young’ festival in Palmerstown House Estate on Saturday July 15th, 2023. ‘Forever Young’ is a three-day celebration of the music of the 1980s featuring artists such as Andy Bell (Erasure), Bananarama, Squeeze, Jason Donovan, Tony Hadley, ABC and many more.
Full line-up and tickets are available here