Gilbert O'Sullivan, one of the biggest pop stars of the 1970s whose melodic and sometimes searingly sad songs have endured the test of time, is back at the City Winery in Manhattan from March 7 through 20. 

Topping the charts in the UK and US for years, O'Sullivan's songs are iconic reminders of a time and place and he's happy to hear it.

Born Raymond Edward O’Sullivan in 1946 in Ireland, his family moved to Swindon, England from Co Waterford when he was 7.

But it wasn't The Clancy Brothers or any Irish acts that inspired him to try his hand at music, it was the mop-topped Beatles and Bob Dylan, he says. So how did he get his start?

“Well, I think it was the traditional thing of working-class families in the 1950s. They always seemed to have a very little money, but they always had a piano in the house. And I think the logic of that was that they wanted their children to play, and maybe they could earn a few pounds while in the pub."

"I think that was the sort of background I had and that was the working class view. But I was lucky to that we have a piano there, because I was the only one in my family that was kind of musically orientated.”

That's an understatement. O'Sullivan became one of the biggest stars of his era. Calling himself Gilbert, he sent a demo tape to Gordon Mills, the talent agent behind Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck, who soon became his manager and he had his first hit "Nothing Rhymed" in 1970.

But it was 1972’s "Alone Again (Naturally)" that made him a household name, topping the USA charts for six weeks and garnering three Grammy nominations. Soon after, he got his first three British number one hits with "Clair," "Get Down," and "LPBack to Front." 

“What got me into starting to write was the arrival of The Beatles, they look so different. And of course, they wrote great songs, and they couldn't read music. So we felt that well, maybe if they could do it there's a chance for us. So that kind of started the ball rolling.”

The art of songwriting is the key to everything, O'Sullivan explains. “When I complete what I think is a good song, the only person who hears it is me to begin with. If I'm really happy with it, that's a success. Because that's the lifeblood of what I do and there's so much to enjoy in doing it.”

People often tell him a classic song like "Alone Again (Naturally)" must have been based on his personal experiences and they're surprised when he tells them no. “I feel to be a good lyricist you have to have an understanding of the subject. That's the key, you don't have to experience it. And by having an understanding of a subject that's quite serious, you get taken up by it.”

I ask if the pandemic affected his touring and recording.

“The whole period of lockdown didn't affect me as much as it might have affected so many other people because I'm kind of used to sitting up in the room on my own trying to write lyrics and stuff.

"But now that the joy of performing is I have a really good band, and we've toured extensively from the 90s up to the present.” 

He added: “In the last three years, it's just been myself and my guitar player Bill Shanley, one of Ireland's finest guitar players. We have this up close and personal, intimate show now. Over two hours, people will get to hear the best-known song they want to hear. We do requests and a sample of new material, so it's a really good mix.”

What about his own Irish roots? “When success happened, I bought all the Irish albums I could like The Clancy Brothers and so on, to search for that link to see if my musical background was stemming from the roots in Ireland, but they didn't actually. My roots came from growing up in Swindon, listening to pop music. My personal roots come from Waterford and I'm proud of that fact and of the success I've achieved.”

For tickets to Gilbert O'Sullivan and more information on the concert dates, visit

 City Winery St. Louis * March 18th 2023
Ticket link:

— Gilbert O'Sullivan (@GilbertOSull_) February 13, 2023