Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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O'SULLIVAN, Gilbert

(b Raymond O'Sullivan, 1 Dec. '46, Waterford, Ireland) MOR singer-songwriter. Attended art school in Swindon; sent tapes to record companies, landed deal with CBS and moved to London. Two flop singles on CBS, one on Major Minor; worked as postal clerk. Signed with Management Agency and Music early '70 and became family pet of Gordon Mills, manager of Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck. 'Nothing Rhymed' was top ten hit UK late '70; of 14 hits on MAM label '70--75, seven were top ten, 'Alone Again (Naturally)' was no. 1 USA/3 UK, 'Clare' (after Mills's child) and 'Get Down' were no. 1 UK, top ten USA; top ten LPs UK '71--4 incl. Himself, no. 1 Back To Front, I'm A Writer Not A Fighter, Stranger In My Own Back Yard; but O'Sullivan lived on an allowance, royalties from songs and records tied up, unable even to gig live without Mills's permission; Mills moved to USA to look after Jones as O'Sullivan's hits slowed down: Back To Front had grossed 1,700,000, O'Sullivan received 60,000. After legal action he recovered title to his songs (some now MOR evergreens), back royalties of nearly 2,000,000 early '85, a music business horror story described in Expensive Habits '86 by Simon Garfield. In face of injunction threat from MAM, he made LPs Off Centre '80 (top 20 UK hit 'What's In A Kiss?'), Life And Rhymes '82 on CBS. He must have got his old albums back too; reissues are on Park CDs, plus By Larry, In The Key Of 'G', Sounds Of The Loop, Live In Japan 1993 and Every Song Has It's Play (sic), and Best Of on Rhino.