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.
Rise to Fame
Lee started singing in neighborhood clubs and pubs in the late 1950s, and he finally signed a record deal with Decca Records. When “Little Arrows”—his first song—was published in 1968, it became popular right away and peaked at number 10 on the UK singles list. The popularity of “Little Arrows” made Lee a significant figure in the music business and laid the stage for his subsequent success.
Lee kept putting out albums and singles throughout his career, including “Leapy Sings The Blues” and “Leapy Lee Rocks.” Lee continued to tour and play despite overcoming several personal and professional obstacles, such as an alcoholic fight and subsequent stay in treatment.
Impact on the Music Industry
Leapy Lee had a profound effect on the music business, inspiring a new generation of performers with his distinctive aesthetic and commanding voice. His work continues to influence and inspire musicians today. He is acknowledged as one of the most accomplished and unique vocalists of his time.
In the 1960s, Leapy Lee, a British pop singer, and songwriter, was very successful. His most well-known song, “Little Arrows,” peaked at number 40 in the US and was a top 10 smash in the UK. The following is a rundown of some of Leapy Lee’s most significant works:
- 1968 – “Little Arrows
- 1969 – “Leapy’s Back”
- 1970 – “Leapy Lee”
- 1971 – “Leapy”
- 1976 – “Every Road Leads Back to You”
- 2010 – Little Arrow II
- 1962 – “It’s All Happening”
- 1966 – “King of the Whole Wide World”
- 1967 – “The Man on the Flying Trapeze”
- 1968 – “Little Arrows”
- 1969 – “Good Morning Freedom”
- 1969 – “It’s All Happening” (re-release)
- 1969 – “Here Comes the Rain”
- 1969 – “Little Yellow Aeroplane”
- 1969 – “Mary In The Morning”
- 1969 – “The Day the Rains Came”
- 1970 – “Good Morning”
- 1971 – “Just Another Night”
- 1971 – “Stop That Girl”
- 1972 – “Hang On Sloopy”
- 1973 – “Helena”
- 1974 – “Every Road Leads Back to You”
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.