My haven: The former chart-topper, Leo Sayer, 64, finds inspiration in his studio at the Sydney home he emigrated to in 2005
21:30 GMT, 22 June 2012
Leo Sayer pictured in his Sydney recording studio with several of his favourite items
1 MAGIC FORMULA
Moving to Oz seven years ago has given me a new lease of life, but I still have fond memories of England. One of my most thrilling days ever was when I got to drive Niki Lauda’s McLaren Formula 1 car in 1982 for a TV show I was presenting. Sports people would come on and I’d try their sports, and motor racing was the best. I did 40 laps at Silverstone. Later I was presented with the steering wheel I’d held on to for dear life, with my name engraved on it.
2 PRECIOUS MOMENT
My mum Teresa and dad Thomas both died of cancer in the 80s within a few years of each other, and this picture of us backstage at a show in the 70s captures a really precious moment. I was a bit estranged from my dad for a time – he didn’t understand me not wanting to pursue a conventional career – but he was immensely proud of me when I finally found success. There’s not a day goes by I don’t look at it and think of them.
3 THE TWO LEOS
This unusual painting depicts the two Leo Sayers: the past and present. It was painted by an Australian artist friend called Geoff Todd. I had no idea he was doing it. When he presented it to me out of the blue I was blown away. It shows me at the start of my career and today, but the two figures bleed into each other showing that, despite the 40 years between them, time stands still – and I’m the same person I was back then.
4 I'M A BLUES MAN
My Echo Vamper harmonica goes everywhere with me – it’s tiny, quite simply the most portable of instruments. I was a blues harmonica player before anything else and I still play it on stage when I can. It’s surprisingly hard to play really well though. It’s a bit like doing a card trick: you have to keep at it to be able to bend the notes and make it do magical things. The more you put into it, the more you get out of it.
5 PIPES OF PEACE
These pan pipes were given to me by Gheorghe Zamfir, the Romanian maestro who played on the soundtracks to those Morricone movies like The Good, The Bad And The Ugly. I bumped into him once and we just clicked. I kept asking him how you play the thing, so he let me try it out and, amazingly, gave it to me. It’s not often someone shows you how to play an instrument that was hand-made for them, then gives it to you!
6 SWEET SOUND
The Neumann U87 was the standard microphone we all used back in the 80s. This one came from London’s Mayfair Studios and has been used by everyone from Tina Turner to Paul McCartney and Dire Straits. Not to mention my good self. After the studio closed, it somehow ended up in Australia, so I snapped it up for 5,000. It seems to suit my voice – sometimes a mic just has a particularly ‘sweet’ sound.
Leo is part of the Once In A Lifetime UK tour starting on Friday 9 November. www.ticketmaster.co.uk, or tel: 0844 847 1726.