b. Claudius Afolabi Siffre, 25th June 1945, Queen Charlotte's Hospital, Hammersmith, London.
Labi Siffre is a U.K. singer, whose music has been recorded by many other performers, most notably, the British group Madness, whose version of Labi's song 'It Must Be Love' was a huge hit back in the Eighties.
labi's parents, brother kole and baby labi / young labi
labi with his brother kole
He is the fourth of five children, born to a British mother (of Belgian and and Barbadian roots) and a Nigerian father.
Labi was raised in Bayswater and Hampstead and was educated at a Catholic independent day school, called St Benedict's School, based in Ealing in West London.
He is an openly gay performer, who originally met his partner (Peter Lloyd) back in 1964.
As homosexual legislation became more respectful over the years, the couple entered into a civil partnership, which became legal in 2005.
Before he began his recording career, Labi worked in several professions, which included work in a warehouse, a filing clerk, and a minicab driver.
He began performing at a Jazz club, during the early Sixties, called Annie's Room, which was hosted by the singer Annie Ross.
Labi later toured with the Reggae artist Jackie Edwards and formed his own group called Safari (who performed in and around Soho in London).
He began performing solo in Amsterdam at the folk club Het Kloppertje, and at the the Paradiso in the late Sixties.
Whilst working in Amsterdam, some friends sent some of his recordings to the (later Capital Radio deejay) Dave Cash along with the music publishers Management Agency & Music Ltd. (MAM).
He signed with MAM, who leased his recordings to various labels, which included the Festival and Pye imprints.
Labi released his first single in 1970 for Pye and a year later released 'Pretty Little Girl (Make My Day)' b/w 'Too Late'.
labi siffre - 1970 / the singer and the song - 1971 / crying, laughing, loving, lying - 1972 / for the children - 1973 / remember my song - 1975 / happy - 1975
He went on to release six albums between 1970 and 1975, which were 'Labi Siffre' (in 1970), 'The Singer and the Song' (in 1971), 'Crying, Laughing, Loving, Lying' (in 1972), 'For The Children' (in 1973), 'Remember My Song' (in 1975) and 'Happy' (in 1975).
so strong - 1988 / man of reason - 1991 / it must be love - 1993 / the last songs - 2006
He then released three albums between 1988 and 1998, which were 'So Strong' (in 1988), 'Man of Reason' (in 1991), and 'The Last Songs' (in 1998).
Labi's single releases charted, most notably his original recording of 'It Must Be Love' (charting at number 14 in 1971).
'Crying Laughing Loving Lying' reached number 11 (in 1972), as did 'Watch Me', which reached number 29 that year.
Both singles were released in the States for the Bell imprint.
He also made several television appearances during this period (Top Of The Pops - 15th January 1972 shown above).
In 1977, Labi left the U.K. for the States, concentrating on his songwriting skills.
He returned to the U.K. in 1978 and penned some material for the BBC show, 'A Song For Europe'.
After releasing the song 'One World Song' in 1979, he (finally) achieved his first U.S. chart success, via the British group Madness, whose version of his song 'It Must Be Love' made number 33 on the Billboard chart.
In 1985, after watching a television film from South Africa showing a white soldier shooting at black children, he wrote the song '(Something Inside) So Strong', which became an anti-apartheid anthem, charting at number 4 on the U.K. charts that year.
Labi in 1988
The song won an Ivor Novello award, and became utilised by Amnesty International.
In 1990, Labi wrote the lyrics for the fusion guitarist Jonathan Butler, featured on the artists 'Heal Our Land' album.
He has also written three books of poetry, namely 'Nigger' (in 1993), 'Blood on the Page' (in 1995) and 'Monument' (in 1997).
Labi released a new album, entitled 'The Last Songs', on EMI in 2006.
His earlier recordings have been revisited by Soul Music fans, who have become interested in the past rhythm's of his songs such as 'Rockin' Chair'.
Labi Siffre (Pye Records 1970)
Singer And The Song (Pye Records 1971)
Crying, Laughing, Loving, Lying (Pye Records 1972)
For The Children (Pye Records 1973)
Remember My Song (Pye Records 1975)
Happy (Pye Records 1975)
So Strong (China Records 1988)
Man Of Reason (China Records 1991)
Make My Day (Connoisseur Records 1989)
The Last Songs (EMI Music Distribution Records 1998)