Obituary: Lennie Peters

Leonard Sergeant (Lennie Peters), singer and songwriter, born London 1933, died London 10 October 1992.

IN THE MIDST of the Glam-Rock-dominated early Seventies, an unpretentious, middle-of-the-road cabaret act scored a resounding hit that elevated them to international stardom. When Peters & Lee enjoyed their number-one hit with 'Welcome Home' in July 1973, the charts were still recovering from the onslaught of 'Cum On Feel The Noize' by Slade, and '20th Century Boy' by T. Rex.

It was into this frantic environment that Lennie Peters and Di Lee re-introduced the simple, sing-along pop-song, with a pleasant melody and unpretentious lyric. They may have been resoundingly unhip, but they touched a chord with the public who warmed to their sentimental appeal.

Lennie Peters was born Leonard Sergeant in Islington, north London, in 1933. One of six sons, his father John was a local fishmonger. Lennie lost his sight in both eyes at the age of 16, but he overcame tragedy by immersing himself in music. He was blessed with a fine voice and taught himself to play the piano, on a secondhand upright bought by his parents.

Lennie met his future wife Sylvia at a youth club and they subsequently had two children. Meanwhile he began singing and playing in pubs around Islington, earning pounds 1.10s a night and soon built up a reputation as a performer throughout north London. He was offered a record contract with Oriole and released three singles, including 'My Heart Cried', 'Let The Tears Begin' and 'Love Me Love Me'. He made his radio debut on the BBC's Town & Country show in 1963, and was interviewed on television by Daniel Farson the same year.

Lennie joined a local bluebeat band, the Migil Five, but left just before they had a hit with 'Mockingbird Hill' in 1964. He achieved solo success in cabaret and appeared on mid-Sixties television shows like Stars & Garters. While he touring the gruelling northern club circuit he met Dianne Lee, a dancer who was doing a dance act with her cousin Liz. Dianne (real name Dianne Littlehales) was from Sheffield and wanted to be a ballet dancer. She came to London for television and stage work in 1968. Lennie invited Dianne to form the Peters & Lee double act, which made its debut appearance in the Rolf Harris show at Bournemouth Winter Gardens, on 30 April 1970.

In 1973 they appeared for six weeks on Hughie Green's Opportunity Knocks show, which they won after getting a record number of votes. This led to a contract with Philips records and the release of their first single 'Welcome Home' and subsequent album We Can Make It. Both records charted simultaneously at number one, the first time such a feat had been achieved by anyone since the Beatles.

After two years Philips awarded Peters & Lee a Platinum Album for two and a half million sales. They enjoyed four British top 20 hits and four top 10 albums.

In 1975 their fame spread to the US and they went to Los Angeles to record with the producer Jimmy Bowen. They continued to record during the Eighties and one of the most recent albums, called simply Peters and Lee, was released by the President label in 1989. 'It didn't chart immediately, ' said a spokesman. 'The days when they sold a million were a long time ago.' Nevertheless 'Welcome Home' is still played by bands and entertainers on the circuit that helped launch the career of a man who found fulfilment through music and a unique partnership.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: Human Resources Manager

£28000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: A successful organisation...

Recruitment Genius: Internal Recruiter - Manufacturing

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Internal Recruiter (manufact...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager (CIPD) - Barking / East Ham - £50-55K

£50000 - £55000 per annum + 25 days holidays & benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Man...

Recruitment Genius: Operations / Project Manager

£40000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones