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Billy Ocean: Legendary artiste and songwriter

Music Legend: His is classic music, the kind that is timeless. Billy Oceans is the biggest black recording star Britain has ever produced, one who has sold over 30 million records in his lifetime. He will be performing at Kampala Serena Hotel on April 2, EDGAR R. BATTE writes about his career


In about a week’s time, British music star Billy Ocean is slated to perform live in Kampala. He will be on stage for about 90 minutes at Kampala Serena Hotel.

According to one of the promoters of the show Isaac Rucci, Ocean will be holding one show in the region. His official website proves so, listing Serena as his forthcoming official concert.

Revellers will part with Shs300, 000 for gold tickets and Shs6m for a table of 10 people to be part of the crowd at the show. 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. The song won Ocean the Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance at the 1985 Grammy Awards.

Ocean, born Leslie Sebastian Charles, is one of biggest black recording star Britain has ever produced. According to his official website,, the signer has sold over 30 million records in his lifetime.

The site adds, in part, “He has collected a pile of Gold and Platinum records across the world and hit the number one spot worldwide on pop charts including the USA, Australia, Germany, Holland, and the UK. Billy has achieved extraordinary success as both an artist and a songwriter.”

Different fans in Uganda have varying recollections and hold memories of Ocean’s music. Radio veteran Christine Mawadri loves Ocean’s music, and rates him as a legend
She adds, “I relate to his music. It was in our times. I don’t think kids these days would understand.”

Communication expert Denis Jjuko describes the artiste as very talented. “He belongs to the category of musicians who used to sing, not those who can sing because of auto-tune technology. In the 1990s, nightclubs used to have squeeze sessions. You basically had to look for a member of the opposite sex to squeeze and he is one of the musicians whose music they used to play during such sessions,’ Jjuko recollects.

He makes a joke a few Ugandan DJs from the northern Uganda who used to joke that he was Billy Ochan from Northern Uganda.

Winston Mayanja alias Tshaka says that Ocean is a very good songwriter, and his vocals are sublime, adding that his earlier songs were very soul and funk orientated before he went Pop/mainstream.
“All in all, I am a fan of his music. The bass line to Love Zone played by Wayne Braithwaite is one of my favourite basslines in contemporary music, of all time,” Tshaka observes.

Born in Trinidad, Ocean settled in London’s East End when just seven years old. The calypso crazy kid soon got turned on to soul singers like Otis Redding and Sam Cooke, as well as pop groups such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, leading him to spend much of his study time in the music room.

Ocean got his first break when he signed to GTO records, for whom his second single was the Motown-ish Love Really Hurts Without You, which reached number two in the UK charts and No. 12 in the US.

The 65-year-old star changed record labels and his move to Jive Records provided instant success, with the million selling American number one single Caribbean Queen (for which Billy won a Grammy for best R&B Vocal), followed by Loverboy, and Suddenly, which became the first of Billy’s killer ballads.

The Album from which these singles came from spent a year in the US Charts selling double platinum (triple in Canada). Billy also

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