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Lee Ryan
Boy band Blue may have split up but its members are still firmly on the musical path. Late last year, the charismatic Simon Webbe released a solo album to rave reviews. Now it is the turn of Lee Ryan – dubbed the wild child of the group – to show off his solo musical chops. If you only know him so far as ‘that cheeky blonde guy from Blue’, here’s a guide to the essential Lee Ryan.

1. He co-wrote all the songs on his solo debut.
For his solo release, Lee wasn’t content to sit back and ride on the success of Blue. Instead of just hiring an army of hit-makers, he jumped right in and steered the album towards a direction of his liking. The move seems to have paid off because his self-titled debut broke into the Top 10 charts and his first single Army Of Lovers debuted at number 3.
Songwriting is not a new venture for Lee. Even though he was the youngest member of Blue, he often co-wrote several of their songs including one of their biggest international hits Breathe Easy. He regularly seeks people out to help him learn his craft and for this album, he says, “I’ve worked with a range of writers from Mario’s producer Neo to up and coming British songwriters like Nigel Hoyle, who wrote Army Of Lovers. As soon as I heard that song I knew it sounded like one of those timeless pop songs that only comes along once in a while”.
His enthusiasm is contagious and Lee has found many supporters for his solo effort including designers Dolce and Gabbana who have signed him up as the one of the next generation of ambassadors for their brand.

2. He grew up in a tough neighbourhood.
Brought up by a single mother in a tough London neighbourhood the young Lee recalls some difficult times during the early days. He says, “We had nothing. But because I was dyslexic and a wild kid my mum thought ‘I'll take him to drama school’. She thought it would help me concentrate, and it actually helped me a lot. I got a lot of energy out of it. My mum worked really hard.”
Towards the end of his sojourns at various drama schools and with a diagnosis of dyslexia and Attention Deficit Disorder, one of the schools insisted he take the hyperactivity drug, Ritalin, to help him concentrate through his final exams. His mother realised the drug was an amphetamine and refused to let them put him on it. She continued to keep him always artistically engaged instead. He recalls, "I went to so many singing teachers and I learned so many different techniques. Most people have one singing teacher, one regimented way. But I'd taken every last bit from each. I put my own rules together."

3. His highlight to date has been singing with his biggest hero.
When he was young, Lee was a huge Elton John fan, listening to the singer’s music on the radio and dreaming that he could one day sing with him. Well, the dream did come true when Blue collaborated with Elton on the song Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word. Not only did the pair work together, but Elton has since become a good friend and mentor to Lee, often offering him advice and support. Says Lee, “I think Elton was a bit worried that I’d get messed up by the industry. But I was like, ‘I’ve seen it all before mate’.” As part of Blue, Lee also worked with another legend, superstar Stevie Wonder on the duet Signed Sealed Delivered, and he considers this another highlight of his career.

You can read the rest of our feature on Lee Ryan in the February 2006 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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