Artist Profile: Billy Ocean


Born as Leslie Sebastian Charles, Billy Ocean is a  singer who had several R&B international hit songs during the ‘70s and ‘80s. and during that time, Billy Ocean was the most popular Trinidad-British R&B artist. Some of his hit songs include “When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Gets Going” in 1985 and “Caribbean Queen” which earned him a Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. That’s why in this article, we are going to know more about this iconic artist and how he made his mark on the music scene.


Leslie Sebastian Charles or Billy Ocean was born in Fyzabad, Trinidad and Tobago. He was exposed to music at a very young age because his father was a Grenadian musician. During his teenage years, Billy Ocean was working as a tailor in London Savile Row while he sang regularly in London clubs. Ocean was first discovered by his first manager, John Morphew, who helped him record a double A-side single with a full orchestra. However, Ocean’s ballad singing style was going out of fashion that’s why Morphew had a hard time finding a record label that would sign Ocean and release his song. While his song remained unreleased, Ocean’s father, who countersigned his management contract because his son was still underaged, asked John Morphew to release Ocean from the contract to which he did without penalty. 

Career and International Success

In 1969, Billy Ocean joined a local band called The Shades of Midnight who regularly played a gig in the Shoreditch area of London. After that, he recorded his first solo single for Spark Records under the name Les Charles called “Nashville Raine which was followed up by the song “Sun in the Morning” in 1971.

In one interview, Billy Ocean told the story of how he ended up with his stage name. He said that he got his name from a local football team in his hometown in Trinidad and Tobago who called themselves “Oceans 11.” In 1976, he released his first album under the name Billy Ocean with the carrier single “Love Really Hurts Without You” which reached the number two spot in the UK Singles Charts and the number 22 spot in the US Billboard Top 11. 

Billy Ocean’s string of hit songs started when he released his 1984 album called Suddenly which featured the carrier single “Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run).” However, since the song was released internationally, it’s title and lyrics were changed for different regions. This song won Billy Ocean a Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 1985. 

In 1986, Ocean released his album Love Zone which did pretty well in the market. The album featured the hit single “When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Gets Going” which is also the theme song from the movie “The Jewel of the Nile”. The song became a number one hit in the United Kingdom and reached the second spot in the US charts. Love Zone also featured the song “There’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)” which became a major success in the UK and US. This album also earned Billy Ocean another nomination for the category Best Male R&B Vocal Performance at the 1987 Grammy Awards.

In 1988, Billy Ocean released his album “Tear Down These Walls” which became a certified platinum album and featured the hit single “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car.” In 1993, Billy Ocean returned with his R.Kelly-produced album entitled “Time To Move On, however, it failed to produce any hit singles compared to his other previous albums. This album was his last album for over a decade and a half and he said that during that long hiatus, he focused on raising a family. 

Billy came back in 2007 with a worldwide tour and he followed it up with his album “Because I Love You” that was released in 2009. After a year, Ocean released a U.K Hits compilation album entitled “The Very Best of Billy Ocean” which managed to reach the 17th spot of the UK charts. Four years after that, he released another album called “Here You Are” which featured covers of his favorite songs.

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