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Lee Small

Photo by David Pickles
Photo by David Pickles

Lee Small, best known as singer in Lionheart, Shy, The Sweet, Phenomena, various others and his solo career expands on his singing career and what the future holds with regard to new music and live gigs.

Who were your influences in the early days and have you always wanted to be a singer in a band?

From an early age I loved singing, but would never have thought I would’ve turned out to be a professional one. I think I could always hold a tune, but never had any real confidence, I started out a bass player at the age of 14, and didn’t front a band until I was 22, when the band I was in couldn’t find a singer! I always loved Steve Perry, but had a strong connection with Steve Walsh, Brad Delp, Glenn Hughes, John Waite, Dan Reed and Stevie Wonder.

Apart from the bands we know about, have you ever auditioned for the vocal spot in any other notable bands?

That’s a great question, not known but the only one I did go for was Edens Curse, when the original singer left. I recorded a demo sent to me of Time to Burn, I kinda got offered the gig, but schedules got in the way, mine really, that made it practically impossible for them to use me, so sadly that was a non-starter from the off. I think that’s the only other one I went for, but think we would’ve been a good fit.

You have appeared on a number of albums over the years. Do you have a favourite and why?

The Shy album is a favourite, because that alone has got me so much work off it over the years. Skyscraper is another that sadly fell under the radar. I’ve been quite lucky to have had so many albums under my belt that gave me the opportunity to work with so many gifted players that all offer different styles and things, so because of that, I am fond of most things I have recorded.

You’ve just released another solo album this year. How have the reviews been so far?

I’ve been really pleased with the reviews. I’ve been asked to revisit my melodic side for a while, so the time was right. I’ve mellowed a lot now I’m older so this album reflects on that, so it’s not that heavy so wasn’t sure how it would be received. 

Some vocalists are on strict dietary regimes or gargle with special liquids. How have you kept your voice in tip top shape all these years?

I’ve been plagued by health issues (especially this year), so it’s been a long hard battle over the last few years to maintain a good level of fitness. I struggle with my self-confidence, and often have a lack of belief in myself, all these things help play a part negatively. First to show any signs of distress is always vocally, I get bad coughs, a loss of voice and all sorts of unwanted bugs and colds, I find it much tougher as I get older.

Do you still get the same buzz out of singing live as you did in the past?

I love to sing, It’s the only true way I can express myself. I still get a buzz most gigs, but sadly seem to spend more time in studios than performing live now, something I would love to change.

Are there any musicians that you have not worked with, but would like to in the future?

There are many, Vinnie Moore for one, he’s such a great talent, and there’s other heroes of mine, but although I’ve done so many records and projects, I’m still quite unknown to most of these guys.

Have you or would you consider producing other bands?

No, that’s something I wouldn’t be able to do well enough now. My ears have taken a battering over the years, before in ear monitoring was developed, so my hearing is not the best nowadays, especially one ear, I’m quite deaf now on one side, cymbals etc did a lot of damage to them.

Is there a possibility of a new Shy album?

There couldn’t ever be a Shy album without Steve (Harris), It just wouldn’t work.

We talked about the rest of the band recording and touring under a different name at one point, so who knows .

How are you enjoying your time in The Sweet and do you aspire to eventually take over as lead vocalist and perhaps fit into one of those brightly-coloured shiny glam outfits they wore in the seventies?

Lol, I don’t think anyone would want to see us lot in shinny glam outfits anymore, at our ages! I love being in the band and playing the role Steve Priest left, being a bass player by trade and a fan of the original band, it’s an honour to step up night after night performing all those massive hit records. I never want to front The Sweet no, firstly, it’s not my style vocally, and I don’t think anyone could do a better job of leading the band as Paul Manzi does, as like Andy Scott, he has an amazing voice, we all have very different voices, but when we all sing together its pure magic! There are no cheats with The Sweet, everything is 100% live.

Is there any unreleased recorded material from your days in the bands you’ve been involved with that could be released?

There was another Snowfall album that I completed vocals for about 10 years back, plus stuff I have recorded for other artists out there not released yet.

You appear to be very bust these days, what do you enjoy on your downtime?

I think I’ve been guilty of being too busy, and taking too much on, this is something I’m trying to change in the new year, I’m going to take things much steadier and do less. I have a new granddaughter that I want to spend more quality time with in the future, plus spend more time with my family. I need to be outside more and not in the studio.

With the live circuit back up and running, is there a possibility of seeing you perform in the UK again?

Yes hopefully, some exciting Lionheart news coming soon.

Do you have anything else in the pipeline at the moment that you can share?

I’ve just released an album with Swedish Rockers Kings Crown called ‘Closer To The Truth’ on Frontiers records. There’s a debut album from Atack called ‘Nine Lives’ coming out in November on Escape Music. In the new year brings the long awaited Lionheart album on Metalville Records called ‘The Grace Of A Dragonfly’. We are also halfway through a new Signal Red album too, and I have a record with the late Paul Raymond’s guitar player Dave Burn also out in the new year.



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