Born Leslie Sebastian Charles in Trinidad and Tobago, Billy Ocean is an English Grammy Award winning popular music performer who had a string of rhythm and blues international pop hits in the 1970s and 1980s.
After scoring his first four UK top 20 successes, he eventually added a series of transatlantic successes, including three U.S. number ones.
He moved to Romford, Essex, England with his family at the age of eight. His father was a musician, so Billy's interest in music came at an early age. During his teenage years, he sang regularly in London clubs while also working as a tailor in London's Saville Row. He released his first single in 1972 on Spark Records as Les Charles.
He took his stage name from the Ocean Estate, Stepney, 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 number 2 in the UK Singles Chart and number 22 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. In 1981, he scored the U.S. R&B chart with "Nights (Feel Like Getting Down)."
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-----Ocean's period of greatest success began with Suddenly during 1984, 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.
The album's title track also became a success, peaking at #4 in both the US and the UK and the song "Loverboy," while also being a #2 US success in 1985 was also featured in the very first scene of the popular UK BBC One TV series, Casualty, in 1986.
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 number one success in the UK and a number two in the U.S.; and "They'll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)" (a U.S. number one, and also a major UK success).
Also included were the title track and "Love Is Forever," which were #10 and #16 U.S. successes for Ocean, respectively.
Ocean's next album, Tear Down These Walls in 1988, featured another number one single, "Get Outta My Dreams, Get into My Car," while the album was certified platinum.
His 1993 album Time to Move On failed to produce any major successes, but his 1989 Greatest Hits collection has been a steady seller over the years, and his 1997 compilation Love Is For Ever made #7 on the UK album chart. O
Ocean's last studio album for Jive Records was Time to Move On, which he recorded in Chicago with R&B star R. Kelly. R. Kelly has said he has been a long-time admirer of the way Ocean was able to mix the more emotive soul style with a crossover popular style.
In 2002, the University of Westminster in London awarded Ocean an honorary doctorate of music. On October 20, 2010, Ocean was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the MOBO Awards.