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Leon Lai

Leon Lai

Leon Lai is a Hong Kong-based actor and Cantopop singer. The media refer to Aaron Kwok, Jacky Cheung, Andy Lau and Leon Lai as the Cantopop Four Heavenly Kings.


Born in Beijing, China as Lai Chit, Lai was an only child. His family were originally from Meixian (Hakka). His parents divorced when he was four. He migrated with his Malaysian Chinese father, Lai Xinsheng to Hong Kong during the Cultural Revolution in China. At the age of fifteen, he attended King's Way Princeton College and returned back to Hong Kong at the age of seventeen. Before he became a singer in Hong Kong, he worked as a salesperson for a mobile phone company. He uses the stage name "Li Ming" or "Lai Ming" which literally means "dawn".

After getting the second-runner-up in the 5th New Talent Singing Awards, held by the TVB in 1986, Lai went to be taught singing by Dai Si Zong and in the same year, he also obtained an artist contract from Capital Artist. However he didn't get to release any albums for four years. As a result, his teacher, Dai, arranged to have him signed a contract with Polygram (now known as Universal Music) and then got the contract with Capital Artist annulled after some negotiation.

In Polygram, he released his first album "Leon" and subsequent album "Meet In The Rain" which propelled Lai into instant stardom. His debut album went gold. After several years at Polygram, he then signed a new contract with Sony Music on March 23, 1998.

Lai was ranked 8th among the top 10 of the celebrity power rankings released by the Chinese edition of the Forbes for the year 2003.

Lai's portrayal as Lai Xiao Jun in Comrades: Almost a Love Story was represented in a wax figure at Madame Tussauds Hong Kong.

Lai is known for his statements with deep meanings. His words, "I don't eat breakfast on an empty stomach", was voted the best "Golden Words" by netizens. He is subsequently considered the "King Of Golden Words".

For the first time, Lai was invited to be one of the judges of the 2008 Miss Hong Kong Beauty Pageant.



Together with Jacky Cheung, Andy Lau and Aaron Kwok, Lai was among the four most popular male singers during the 1990s, when the media referred to them as the "Four Heavenly Kings" (四大天王). On June 29th, in the Hong Kong Avenue of Stars, Leon, along with Aaron Kwok and Jacky Cheung had their hands imprinted to be added along the Avenue.

In the early stages of his career, he mainly sang cantopop, but due to the influence of producer Mark Lui, he expanded his repertoire to include popular electronic songs with compelling music videos. In 2002, he was selected to sing "Charged up", the World Cup theme song for the Greater China Region.

In 1996, he collaborates with composer-producer Steve Barakatt on his album "Feel". In 1998, Leon's Korean song "After loving you" managed to reach the Top 10 in a Korean pop chart. He was the first Hong Kong singer to achieve this.

He won numerous singing awards before announcing in 1999 that he would no longer accept any awards in Hong Kong. He won the "Most Popular Male Singer" award in 1993 and 1995 for TVB Jade Solid Gold. He has also won the "Song of the Year" award four times. In the 1996 year of awards, Leon Lai won a personal record 16 awards in the Hong Kong music scene. A tie with fellow singers Sky King and Jacky Cheung. This gives both artists one more award. The 4 stage Joint Award of Best Musicians. Awarded to the musician with the most awards won in the year ending award shows. Lai's music career gradually declined from the late 1990s. While he is still releasing new albums from time to time, his record sales are now less than impressive and his position has been overtaken by the newer generation of cantopop singers.

His song "All Day Love" released in 2000 got into trouble with the Chinese authorities for drawing passages from the China National Anthem, "March of the Volunteers". The starting tune also sounds similar to the Anthem tune. He was warned against using the song for commercial purposes.

In 2004, Leon Lai formed a new record production company, "A Music", East Asia Record Production Company Limited, with Peter Lam. The first album produced by the company, "Dawn" was released in September of that year. The album, "Dawn", was released with minimum promotion as Lai went to the Mainland for a movie shoot on the day of the album's release.

In order to bring in new excitements for his music, Leon invited a famous music producer Jonathan Lee Tsung Sheng from Taiwan in 2005 to produce his new mandarin album "A Story". However, by doing so he had to give up the opportunity for a lead role in a big budget Taiwan movie "Gui Si" due to conflicts in his schedules.

Lai returned to the Hong Kong Coliseum on April 13, 2007 to perform in his one night only Leon 4 in Love Concert where he performed not only his own hits but also hits of the other three heavenly kings namely Aaron, Andy and Jacky. He performed a total of 18 songs, all of which are newly arranged by Mark Lui. He subsequently released an album titled "4 In Love" on May 3, 2007, comprising 16 of the 18 songs he had performed in the concert. He released his new single on October 30, 2007 for his fans to listen and download on MOOV. The song titled, Think of you written by Lin Xi, composed by Lee Sang Jun, arranged by Mark Lui, Chen Yi and produced by Lee Han Wen.

Apart from being a solo artist, Lai has co-operated with other artist in a duet. Some of his better known collaborations are "Love Until the End" and "A Happy Family" with Vivian Chow, "Really Wish to Be Like This Forever" and "It's Still You" with Priscilla Chan, "Song of the Star" with Alan Tam, "Never Give Up" with Jacky Cheung, "Why did I let you go?" with Janice Vidal.


In the period before Lai participated in the New Talent Singing Awards, he enrolled in the ATV actor training class, however he didn't complete the training with no apparent reason. Then, he applied for admission to the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts but his application was rejected.

After the New Talent Singing Awards, he had some opportunities to star in a few TV series. On one occasion, he went for filming of a romantic serials titled, Fengyun era, in Taiwan. There was a stark contrast in height between Leon and the popular lead actress who is only 1.60 cm in height. The actress then demanded that Leon squatted while filming so as to make up for the height differences. Leon had to act through all the scenes with the actress while squatting but he had to endure it as he was not popular at the time. However not long afterwards his new TV series, The Breaking Point which turned out to be a resounding success and propel him to widespread fame in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

In 1996, Lai was nominated for the Best Actor award at the 16th Hong Kong Film Awards for the film Comrades: Almost a Love Story.However, he did not win.

The next year in 1997, he managed to win the award for Best Original Song for the film Eighteen Springs both at the Golden Horse Film Festival and Hong Kong Film Awards.

He was again nominated for the Best Actor and Best Original Film Song award for the film City of Glass in 1999 at the Hong Kong Film Awards but he only managed to win the award for Best Original Film Song which he shared with Lin Xi and Dick Lee.

Lai was considered by Lee Ang to act as Li Mu Bai in the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, however he had to turn down the offer as he had advertising contract and live concert about to start which would not match his shaven head as was required for the role.

He collaborated with Cecilia Cheung in 2001 for the first time in the Wong Jing directed romantic comedy film, Everyday Is Valentine. In the film, Leon played a serial liar. In 2002, Lai took the spotlight at the Golden Horse Awards, the Chinese-language version of the Oscars in Taiwan. He won Best Actor for Three: Going Home. Leon played a minor role as Superintendent Yeung Kam Wing in Infernal Affairs III in 2003. In 2004, Lai starred with Faye Wong in the romantic movie Leaving Me, Loving You, the story of which he co-wrote with Wilson Yip and he was also the creative/production controller of the movie. However, the movie was a flop. The movie raked in HK$ 10,529,501 in the box office.

In 2005, Lai acted as one of the seven warriors, Yang Yun Chong, in the Tsui Hark directed Wuxia film, Seven Swords. In the same year in the film Moonlight In Tokyo, Leon unexpectedly acted as a Chinese retard who pretend to be a Korean gigolo in Japan and thus shedding his idol image. He won the Golden Deer Best Actor Award from Changchun China Film Festival for his portrayal in Leaving me Loving you in 2005.

In 2006, Lai starred alongside Fan Bingbing and Rene Liu in a love and horror, thriller film titled The Matrimony where he played a cinematographer Shen Junchu, the love interest of Manli and Sansan. JunChu was pressurised into marrying Sansan after the untimely demise of his true love Manli in an accident. The film was released on Valentine's Day on February 8, 2007. In the same year, Leon wrote and directed a musical film titled A Melody Looking which was shot in New York. It features Leon and the rest of the Amusic family of singers namely Janice, Jill, Emily, Charles and Chapman. This film marks his debut as a director.

In 2007, Lai starred alongside Kelly Chen ,Donnie Yen and Guo Xiaodong in the Cheng Xiaodong directed action and romantic movie Jiangshan Meiren which means An Empress and the Warriors. He acted as a woodland medicine man whom have a romantic relationship with a princess. The action will be choreographed by the director himself who had previously choreographed for movies such as, Curse of the Golden Flower, House of Flying Daggers, and Hero. The movie will be released on 1st March, 2008. Lai and Kelly will be singing the movie theme song, "Fly With Your Dreams" which is written by Lin Xi and composed by Mark Lui.

He underwent training in Peking Opera for playing the lead role as Méi Lánfāng in the biographical film Méi Lánfāng which was directed by Chen Kaige. The shooting of the film has completed in the year 2008 and it also starred actresses Zhang Ziyi and Gillian Chung. He is directing the music video of the film where he and Zhang Ziyi will sing the film theme song, "You Understand My Love".

Societal contributions

Apart from being an actor and singer, Lai took time off to participate in a number of social events related to charities ,public awareness, and community welfare. He is actively involved in the Community Chest and helped in the production of advertisement for "Dress Casual Day". He is a member of The Community Chest Campaign Committee.

Lai tryst with serious charity work started when his father had carcinoma of the rectum at an advanced stage. The doctors said he was incurable. But when his father went through an operation, he prayed to the Buddha to let the operation be successful and he will do a lot of good things to thank heaven. The operation was successful and his father got cured. So when the cancer foundation and the U.N. organization approached him for help, he started getting involved in charity work actively.

Lai first work with UNICEF was in a China polio eradication project in 1993. He managed to raise substantial funds accruing from his supporters, fans and concert ticket sales. In July 1994, he was appointed the International UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and thus becoming the first Hong Kong citizen to be given this position. Since the year 1994, he has been involved in various fund raising activities of The Hong Kong Committee for UNICEF (HKCU). These activities include seven charity concerts, three charity chocolate sales and charity walkathon. Leon along with HKCU representatives visited Rwanda, Gansu of China and Brazil to study the works of the UNICEF and to hlep promote public awareness of UNICEF messages of "Help UNICEF Help Children".

In December 1995, he was appointed as UNICEF Special Representative to Youth at UNICEF Headquarters in New York recognizing his contributions for the welfare of the children.

Lai has been elected as one of The Ten Outstanding Young Persons (TOYP) in 1997, giving him a formal recognition of his professional endeavours and commitment to the community.

Lai bought the first donation ticket, numbered 000001 at a "Children's Education Fund Raising Campaign" launch event at Tsuen Wan PARKnSHOP's Skyline Superstore in 2001 to encourage people to contribute to a meaningful social cause. The funds raised will be donated to the Community Chest.

He was awarded the Medal of Honour (M.H.) on 12 October 2003 by Tung Chee-Hwa, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong SAR.

Ever since his decision not to receive any music award in HK, he has not appeared on the TVB Jade Gold Solid Awards Ceremony even as a guest, but in order to secure more funds for charity, he agreed to perform in the ceremony as a guest performer on Jan 8, 2005. On 13th May of the same year, Leon co-operated with Mark Lui to compose the song "8858" The song will be used as the promotional song of the China Children and Teenagers' Fund (CCTF) The title of song means "Help me (sounded like 'bang bang wo ba' in Putonghua)" and the number "8858" represent the SMS number people can use to donate the money. In a surprising move in Dec 2005, Leon appeared in a Hong Kong government television advertisement requesting the public to support a gradual political reform package tabled by the ruling government rather than asked for rapid political reform. This marks the first time he got himself involved in a politically motivated advertisement.

Lai was selected to be the ambassador of the 6th Winter Asian Games to be held Changchun in 2007 and will also sing the Games' theme song and take part in the torch relay.

He appeared at a recent ceremony in Beijing in which Sunrider International presented UNICEF with a generous donation. He also occasionally helps other non-profit organisations to raise funds.

In the aftermath of the devastating Sichuan Earthquake in 2008, Lai got together with two of his long time collaborator, Lyricist Lin Xi and Composer, Mark Lui to produce a single, "You are not alone" to raise funds on behalf of the UNICEF for children. The CD will retail for HK$10 at all Chow Tai Fook Jewellery store in Hong Kong. The logic behind retailing it at the gold jewellery store is that people buying gold jewellery are more likely to buy it than people buying CDs at record store.



(Note: the indication of a # next to the title means that it was a supporting/minor role.)
Year Title Chinese Title Role Box Office
2008 Mei Lanfang (post-production) 梅兰芳 Mei Lanfang
An Empress and the Warriors 江山美人
2007 The Matrimony 心中有鬼 Shen Junchu
2006 A Melody Looking 緣邀知音 Leon
2005 Moonlight In Tokyo 情義我心知 HK$ 9,417,992
Seven Swords 七劍 Yang Yuncong
2004 Leaving Me, Loving You 大城小事 HK$ 10,529,501
2003 Infernal Affairs III # 無間道 # Yang Jinrong HK$ 30,225,661
Golden Chicken 2 # 金雞2 Doctor Chow Man Kwong
Heroic Duo 雙雄 HK$ 8,453,877
2002 Three 三更 Yu Fai HK$ 7,367,895
2001 Bullets of Love 不死情謎 HK$ 3,587,266
Everyday Is Valentine 情迷大話王 OK Lai HK$ 10,993,905
Dream of a Warrior 天使夢 Song Chen
2000 Skyline Cruisers 神偷次世代 Mac HK$ 8,549,418
Sausalito 一見鍾情 Mike HK$ 15,136,981
1998 A Hero Never Dies 真心英雄 Jack HK$ 6,792,090
City of Glass 玻璃之城 Hui Kong Shen HK$ 9,895,565
Love Generation Hong Kong 新戀愛世紀 Bill HK$ 9,754,950
1997 God of Gamblers 3: The Early Stage 賭神三之少年賭神 Gao Jin HK$ 16,986,954
Killing Me Tenderly 愛你愛到殺死你 Lai Su-Kan HK$ 15,881,265
Eighteen Springs 半生緣 Chen Shijun HK$ 7,535,785
1996 Comrades: Almost a Love Story 甜蜜蜜 Li Xiaojun HK$ 15,557,580
1995 Fallen Angels 墮落天使 Wong Chi-Ming HK$ 7,476,505
1994 Love and the City 都市情緣 Liang Zhi-wu HK$ 9,905,608
Run 仙人掌 Lam Man-fai HK$ 5,572,381
1993 Fearless Match 初生之犊
City Hunter # 城市獵人 Kôtetsu/Gundam HK$ 2,839,802
1992 The Sword of Many Lovers 飛狐外傳 Wu Fei HK$ 6,859,835
Gun and Rose 龍騰四海 Xiao Lim HK$ 14,944,759
The Magic Touch 神算 Yau Ho-Kay HK$ 36,399,307
The Wicked City 妖獸都市 Renzaburô Taki
Shogun and His Little Kitchen 伙頭福星 Lam Feng HK$ 9,687,943
1991 Fun & Fury 痴情快婿 Wai Hon HK$ 3,861,348
Party of a Wealthy Family/The Banquet # 豪門夜宴 Cook HK$ 21,921,687
With or Without You 明月照尖東 Ming HK$ 9,601,534
Fruit Punch Yes一族 Ming HK$ 5,246,001
1989 Four Loves 四千金 Dongni HK$ 7,355,334
Hearts, no flowers 少女心 HK$ 2,810,849
1987 Mr. Handsome 美男子 Johnny HK$ 10,154,173
Total 40

Television series

Year Title Chinese Title
1994 Class Of Distinction 阿SIR早晨
1993 The Legendary Ranger 原振俠
1991 The Breaking Point 今生無悔
Challenge Of Life 人在邊緣
1990 Cherished Moments 回到未嫁時(挑戰未來)
1989 Song Bird 天涯歌女
Chun Mun Kong Chuen Kei 晋文公傳奇
Period of Glory 風雲時代
1988 Bing Kuen 兵權
Yankee Boy 回到唐山
1987 A Friend in Need 飛越霓裳
1986 Foundlings Progress 男兒本色
Total 12



At Hong Kong Coliseum :

Year Date Title Chinese Title No. of Shows Sponsor
2007 13 Apr Leon 4 in Love Concert 1 3
2005 10 Oct - 15 Oct Leon Crazy Classic Concert 6 Johnnie Walker Black Label
2001 14-16; 21-25; 28-31 Dec Leon Live Is Live Concert 12 CitiBank
1999 20 Nov - 12 Dec Leon Live 99 23 AXA
1997-98 20 Dec - 8 Jan Leon Lai Live 97 20 G Sushi 元祿壽司
1995 2 Nov - 27 Nov Neon Leon Live 95 那一夜我們在霓虹下起舞 26 Hang Seng Bank Credit Card
1993 8 Aug - 25 Aug Summer of Love Concert 夏日傾情演唱會 20 Saab
1992 7 Oct - 14 Oct Night Devotion Live # 一夜傾情演唱會 10 Kao
Total 118

(Note: # indicate literal translation)



Year Ads Song
2005 Live 3” TV commercial series – “Sharing”
1999 Hutchison Orange dual band network Acid
1998 Hutchison new line-Tianshan article If I Can See You Again
1998 Airport Express Line Happy 2000
1998 Hutchison new line-Xueshan article I Love You Like This
1998 Hutchison new line Love You, Love You Not
1997 Hutchison GSM Mobile 100 Possibilities

Music Pop Chart

Year Single Peak positions
RTHK Chinese Pop CTHK Ultimate 903 Metro Radio Pop Chart JSG Billboard UFO Mandarin Pop
2007 "Why did I let you go?" 14 - 3 - -
"Endless Love" 3 2 3 - -
2006 "You Have Ability" - - - 1 -
"Love Can Be Crazy" 2 - 1 2 -
"Frequent meeting without purpose" 9 5 11 - -
2005 "Crazy Classic" 11 17 6 - -
"有情郎" 3 3 1 5 -
"心頭高" - - 4 - -
"Lasting Love" 1 1 1 3 -
"Love Crazy" - 14 12 - -
"情歸於盡" 8 7 3 3 -
"Yi Yen Wei Din" 1 2 1 1 -
2004 "Bei Dian Shang Gao" 1 15 1 1 -
"What" 10 12 9 - -
"Bu Ge Yi Shi" 7 1 1 1 -
Total 3 2 6 4 -

Year Album HMV Sales Chart
Peak positions No. of Weeks in Top 20
2007 "Leon 4 In Love" 1 6
2006 "LOOKING (+DVD)" 3 -
"A STORY" 2 -
Total - '''-



Year Awards Albums
2001 IFPI HK Top 10 Sales Album Leon Club Sandwich
IFPI HK Top 10 Sales Mandarin Album The Red Shoes
IFPI HK Top Sales Male Artist
1998 IFPI HK Platinum Disc I Love You Like This
1997 IFPI HK Platinum Disc IF
IFPI HK Platinum Disc Feel
IFPI HK Gold Disc Leon's …
IFPI HK Gold Disc Leon Sound
Total 8

Commercial Radio
Year Awards Songs
1998 Best Male Artist:Silver
Favorite Male Artist
No.3 professional recommendation Jin Shen Bu Zai
Best Co-operation Leon Lai and Hutchison Telecom
1997 Best Male Artist:Gold
Favorite Male Artist
Top 10 Songs professional recommendation Only if you love me for a day
Favorite Song Only if you love me for a day
10th anniversary Top 10 Artists
1996 Best Male Artist:Gold
Best Ads Song Unspoken words of sentiment
Four Media IFPI Top award Perhaps
1995 Best Male Artist:Bronze
Top 10 Songs professional recommendation Danger tracking
1994 Most Played Artist:Bronze
Top 10 Songs Not one day I don't think of you
Favorite Song Not one day I don't think of you
Most Favorite Live Performance Not one day I don't think of you
Top Composed Song Not one day I don't think of you
1993 Best Male Artist:Bronze
Favorite Songs Not willing to leave you tonight
Summer Devotion
Summer is burning
1992 Most Played Artist:Bronze
Favorite Song My Love
Wish We Are Not Just Friend
1991 Most Played Artist:Bronze
1990 Most Played Artist:Silver
Total 28

See also

References and notes

External links

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