Leapy Lee is an English singer, actor, comedian and (later) writer whose single “Little Arrows” became the best-selling single in his career. He started his career in showbiz as a comedian, and then added singing to his professional resumé in 1962 through his debut single “It’s All Happening.” His 1968 single “Little Arrows” went to US Top 40 and UK Top 10; its LP of the same title hit #71 of the Billboard Hot 200 album charts. Lee’s only other singles never charted on the pop charts but “Good Morning” and “Every Road Leads Back to You” made a dent on the country charts. In 2010, Lee issued an EP titled Little Arrows II, and still performs live.
Early life and occupations
British singer and comedian Leapy Lee was born Graham Pulleyblank (some sources say it’s “Pulleybank”) in Eastbourne, Sussex in England on July 2, 1939 (some sources cite his birth year is 1942). He is the only child of parents named William and Kathleen. He would later change his name into Lee Graham.
He had earlier jobs such as wheelbarrow boy and bingo caller. He even used to manage a club. Before making a big splash as a singer and recording artist, Leapy Lee started out in show business as a comedian. In 1955, he made his professional debut at a local club and the following year he tried his luck by going to the big city, London. He continued to try to make a name while performing at some of the capital’s renowned venues, Metropolitan Theatre and the London Palladium, the last where he managed to snag a supporting role in the productionLarge as Life. He would later be a seasoned theater veteran, appearing in more productions such as Johnny the Priest, Oh Dad Poor Dad, I’ve Locked You in the Closet and Sparpers Can’t Sing. In 1956, he also made his debut television appearance on the ATV show State Your Case in Birmingham.
By then Leapy Lee had already begun singing, and in 1962 he cut his very first single on Pye label, titled “It’s All Happening.”
Lee was once managed by the Kinks’ co-manager Robert Wace, and became good buddies with the band’s singer Ray Davies. In 1966, Lee released his second single “King of the Whole Wide World” which was actually written and produced by Davies. Ray’s brother Dave also played guitar on that track.
Lee later switched management, and was now under the wings of the charismatic manager and producer Gordon Mills. Aiming to broaden his recording career, Lee signed to a newly-established label MCA Records in 1968. Mills helmed Lee’s catchy song titled “Little Arrows” which was composed by Mike Hazelwood and Albert Hammond, both of whom were then relative unknowns.
“Little Arrows” was released in 1968. It eventually went high on the national charts, ending up at #2. It was only behind the Beatles’ overlong monster hit “Hey Jude.”
In the US (where the single was released on Decca label), “Little Arrows” went to #16 on the Billboard Hot 100, #38 on the adult contemporary singles chart, and #11 on the country singles chart.
Lee never made another US pop hit, but his subsequent two singles “Good Morning” (1969) and “Every Road Leads Back to You” (1975) managed to place in country chart positions at #55 and #82, respectively. Despite this, Lee would be ranked among the other “one-hit wonder” artists.
Lee’s misdemeanor and time in jail; later life abroad
However, Lee’s unruly behavior suddenly spelled his career’s doom. In 1972, he was arrested following a fracas with actor Alan Lake (the husband of starlet Diana Dors) inside a pub in Sunningdale, Berkshire. Leapy Lee was later charged and then sentenced to two years in jail.
Following his prison release in 1974, Lee later relocated to Saudi Arabia and lived there for a while. Then he flew out to Majorca, Spain where he opened his own bar and subsequently made his permanent residence.
His later career involved writing. In 2005 he released the first of his planned three-part autobiography, Anyone Who Doesn’t Want to Take Their Clothes Off Can Leave! Lee is also writing for Euro Weekly News, an English-language newspaper based in Spain (you can also check its website as well). His latest recording project came in 2010 when he released “Little Arrows II” EP.