Billy Ocean

Billy Ocean

Synopsis of Pop Music

"Get out of my dreams, get into my car..."

One of the most memorable hits of 1984 was “Caribbean Queen (No More Love On The Run),” a catchy song that married pop hooks to a danceable groove to become a worldwide hit. It was the first success for Billy Ocean, a British pop-soul artist who quickly became a hit-making force during the mid-1980’s. Ocean scored seven Top-10 hits (including 3 #1’s) in the space of four years by applying a pop music production style to r&b and dance material, thus creating songs that sounded great both on the dance floor and on the car radio.

Billy Ocean was born Leslie Charles in Trinidad. This musically-inclined youth moved to England with his parents when he was eight and began pursuing music in the London club scene while in his teens. He released his first single under the name ‘Scorched Earth’ in 1974 and soon began moonlighting at Ford Motors while writing and recording songs during the day. He was able to quit his night job when he scored a worldwide hit with a Motown-styled pop-soul song called “Love Really Hurts Without You.” This Four Tops-like song hit #2 in the U.K. and went to #22 in the U.S.

Throughout the 70’s, Billy Ocean kept scoring hits in Europe with retro-soul tunes like “L.O.D. (Love On Delivery)” and also began writing songs for artists like LaToya Jackson. However, his big success began in 1982 when he scored a hit on the U.S. r&b charts with “Nights (Feel Like Getting Down).” This danceable groove was also used on Jane Fonda’s best-selling Workout Album. Two years later, Ocean became a crossover sensation when “Caribbean Queen” went to #1 on the pop and r&b charts, blending a cosmopolitan-yet-funky sound with Ocean’s soulful vocal style to become a worldwide hit.

However, “Caribbean Queen” wasn’t the only version of this hit. It was also released around the world as both “African Queen” and “European Queen” with specially-rewritten lyrics for each of these markets, both just as successful as “Caribbean Queen.” Meanwhile, Billy Ocean continued to score big hits in 1985 with the danceable electro-funk of “Loverboy” and the tender ballad “Suddenly.” All three of these hits were featured on the Suddenly album, which became a Top-10 hit on both sides of the Atlantic.

In 1986, Billy Ocean recorded “When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going” for the soundtrack of The Jewel Of The Nile, the hit sequel to the 1984 adventure movie Romancing The Stone. It became a #2 hit and also boasted a popular video that featured Ocean performing the song along with the film’s stars—Kathleen Turner, Michael Douglas and Danny DeVito—while dressed in white tuxedoes. That year, Ocean also released the Top-10 album Love Zone and scored his second #1 hit with the melancholy “There’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry).” “Love Is Forever” was another Top-20 hit.

Billy Ocean scored a third #1 hit in 1988 with “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car,” an effortless fusion of dance grooves and rock attitude that was prominently featured on the soundtrack of the hit film License To Drive. It was followed by (and included on) Tear Down These Walls, a Top-20 album that included the hit single “The Colour Of Love.” The next year, Ocean released a Greatest Hits collection. In 1990, he collaborated with the Fresh Prince on the single “I Sleep Much Better (In Someone Else’s Bed).”

Today, Billy Ocean continues to be a force on the European music scene and continues to record albums like Time To Move On and L.I.F.E. Most recently, his hit “When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going” was covered by the British group Boyzone and became a #1 hit for the second time on those shores. The double-success of this song proves that Ocean’s stylish flavor of pop soul has true staying power.

Artist Release History

1975 - Billy Ocean
1980 - City Limit
1981 - Nights (Feel Like Getting Down)
1982 - Inner Feelings
1984 - Suddenly
1986 - Love Zone
1988 - Tear Down These Walls
1989 - Greatest Hits
1993 - Time to Move On
1997 - L.I.F.E.

Pop Sub Categories

rock
r&b

Essential Music Albums

Greatest Hits (Jive)

Band Members

Billy Ocean vocals

Other Pop Music Links