May 15, 2009 — It's been a while since we've heard from Billy Ocean, but if you are 40-something it's likely that you danced to his music a lot in your 20s.
After almost 20 years since its rise to the top of the pop charts, Billy Ocean's "Caribbean Queen" is probably still heard on the radio here at least once a day, and at least once a night at tourist watering holes.
Ocean makes his St. Thomas debut Saturday evening at the Reichhold.
Billy Ocean has been on a 15-year sabbatical, but with the release of his new album, "Because I Love You", he is touring.
The new album sounds a lot more Caribbean than the hits that made Ocean a big name in the '80s, but if you want to hear the new music, you'll have to go to the Reichhold on Saturday. "Because I Love You" is not available in record stores here. While the album was released in the U.K. in February, the U.S. release won't be until September or October, according to David Lawrence, who manages logistics for Ocean when touring.
Asked what he listens to these days, Ocean says that he loves all kinds of music, but that he especially enjoys Bob Marley and Marvin Gaye.
Gaye sang about what was happening in America, and brought the American civil rights movement to greater worldwide attention, Ocean said.
Ocean admires the way that Marley put his lyrics to music. Marley's music also brought the teachings of Rastafarianism to greater global awareness, according to Ocean.
He's also fond of the rap of M.C. Hammer and Grand Master Flash, and his kids have turned him on to the music of Beyonce.
After his mother's death, Ocean took a look at his life and decided to spend more time with his family.
"I was touring, touring, touring," Ocean said. "I was seeing very little of my kids and family. I'd come home and the kids would have grown."
The sabbatical time went by quickly. "It wasn't meant to be 15 years," Ocean said.
During that time he has started reading the Bible his mother gave him. He became a Rastafarian, with a head full of dreadlocks.
He says that much of his music has always been subtly spiritual, pointing to lyrics from "Suddenly:" 'There is beauty up above, we never take notice of."
Although he was born in Trinidad, Ocean has spent most of his life in England. England has left its mark on Ocean, who noted at the start of his rain-relocated press conference, "Rain stops play — like cricket."
Ocean performs at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Reichhold Center for the Arts. Tickets for the upper levels are still available online or through the box office at 340-693-1559.
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