Organized by Laura
A man you will love at first sight. Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing is regarded not only as one of the finest looking celebrities in Asia but also one of the most popular and talented. With a huge fan base worldwide, Leslie has released numerous signature songs that topped the music charts and also featured in over 50 films some of which include: “A Better Tomorrow,” “A Chinese Ghost Story,” “Days of Being Wild,” “The Phantom Lover,” “Moonlight Express,” and “Double Tap.”
CHILDHOOD AND EDUCATION
Born on September 12, 1956, in Hong Kong, Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing is the youngest of ten children. His father was a fairly well-known tailor. Although Leslie grew up in a middle class family, he didn't have a happy childhood. His parents were separated when he was quite young. His nanny brought up him up, thus he was not close to his parents. After attending Rosaryhill School, Leslie was sent to England and attended Norwich School at the age of 13. It was during this period when he chose his English name, "Leslie," named after the British actor Leslie Howard in “Gone With the Wind.” Leslie did fairly well in school and went onto University of Leeds, pursuing a major in textile management. He dropped out of college at the end of his first year in 1976 due to his father’s illness.
After returning to Hong Kong, Leslie jump-started his career by entering the 1977 ATV Asian Music Contest in which he finished as first runner-up. In the same year, Leslie released his first EP, “I Like Dreamin'.” Although his debut album was not well received at the time, he made several television and movie appearances including “Nomad,” which he was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor at the Hong Kong Film Awards. The year 1983 was the turning point in Leslie's music career. After his contract with ATV terminated, Leslie joined Capital Artists and released his first signature song, "Wind Continues to Blow."
In the 1980s, Leslie continued to build his career with uncountable everlasting hits such as “Monica,” “For Your Heart Only,” “Who Feels the Same,” “Sleepless Night,” “Thinking of You” and many more. His “Monica” became representative of a new genre of Hong Kong pop music in the mid 1980s. In 1985, he held his first concert series at Hong Kong Coliseum and again in following year. Leslie won numerous music awards at the TVB Jade Solid Gold Best Ten Awards and RTHK Top Ten Golden Chinese Songs Awards including the Most Popular Male Singer and Best Song of the Year. Besides singing, Leslie gained momentum in his film career by casting as a rookie cop in John Woo's 1986 “A Better Tomorrow.” The film's success enabled Leslie to branch out in his film work. In 1987, he starred in Tsui Hark's "A Chinese Ghost Story," as a traveling tax collector who falls for a winsome beauty, played by Joey Wong. Both “A Better Tomorrow” and “A Chinese Ghost Story” established him as one of the most popular film idols in Asia. The following year, Leslie became to first Asian star to become the spokesperson for Pepsi and held his Pepsi Superstar concert series at Hong Kong Coliseum for 23 nights.
In the 80s, three singers dominated the music scene in Hong Kong: Leslie, Anita Mui, and Alan Tam. With the popularity of Leslie and Alan Tam, fans of the two stars became increasingly hostile to each other, starting a long-standing conflict that soon put heavy pressure on both singers. In 1989, Leslie announced his intent to retire early. The news startled the whole entertainment field, and Leslie formally did so at the end of his 33 full-house concerts at Hong Kong Coliseum (he was 33 at the time). He left Hong Kong during the peak of his music career and moved to Canada.
Leslie continued to work in a variety of films with some of the industry's most respected directors throughout the 1990s. In 1990, he starred in Wong Kar-Wai's “Days of Being Wild,” co-starred Andy Lau and Maggie Cheung, and won the Best Actor Award the following year at the Hong Kong Film Awards. Later, he expanded his acting palette in John Woo's “Once A Thief,” Chen Kaige's “Farewell My Concubine,” Ronnie Yu's “The Bride With White Hair,” and Peter Chan's “He's the Woman, She's the Man.” Although Leslie retired from his music career as a pop singer, he composed more than ten songs during this time and won the 1993 Best Original Movie Song Award at the Golden Horse Film Awards for the theme song of the movie, “The Bride With White Hair.”
RETURN OF THE POP SINGER
Six years after his retirement, Leslie announced his comeback in 1995 and it undeniable created a storm in the entertainment scene. Leslie re-launched his music career with Rock Records and released his top-selling album, Fondness, featuring a collection of his movie theme songs such as “Chase,” “Endless Embrace,” “The Phantom Lover,” and “Bygone Love.” Fondness achieved large market success with the award of IFPI Best Selling Album. In that same year, Leslie made two more films, “The Chinese Feast” and “The Phantom Lover,” produced by Leslie.
INTERNATIONAL SUPER STAR
In 1996, Leslie made several more box office hits like “Shanghai Grand” and “Who's the Man, Who's the Woman.” During Leslie's 89 farewell concert, he promised that he would open a coffee shop where fans could bring in their concert tickets in exchange of a cup of coffee. In May 1996, he kept his promise and opened his coffee shop in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. At the end of 1996, Leslie held 24 shows at the Hong Kong Coliseum and continued his sell-out world tour concerts in 1997 including Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, China, Singapore, North America, Europe, and Australia. He became the first singer to hold 100 concerts at Hong Kong Coliseum. In 1999, Leslie starred in two films, “Moonlight Express,” co-starred Takako Tokiwa, and “The Kid.” In the same year, Leslie was signed to Universal Records at an undisclosed sum reported to be the highest figure for a recording contract in the Chinese music industry. At the end of 1999, Leslie released his top-selling CD, “Countdown With You,” after signing his new contract with Universal. The success of the album brought Leslie to numerous award ceremonies. Not only did Leslie receive the Top Honor Award from TVB Jade Solid Gold Best Ten Awards but also the Golden Needle Award at RTHK Top Ten Chinese Gold Songs Awards.
After the release of "Big Heat," Leslie began his Passion World Tour which began in Hong Kong on July 31, 2000 and moved on to other countries including Malaysia, China, Japan, Canada, and the U.S. Although Passion Tour was said to be disputable and controversial, it was evidently Leslie’s best concert series. At the early stage of the concerts, Passion Tour was bitterly criticized by the Hong Kong media for the costumes designed by the well-known French fashion designer, Jean-Paul Gaultier. Despite the criticisms, Passion Tour achieved huge success in Asia. Leslie was awarded the “Grand Salute Award” and “Music Salute Award” for his work in Passion Tour. Moreover, Leslie's evergreen hit, "Monica" was crowned as the "Most Favorite Song" of the 20th Century in Hong Kong. In addition to that, Leslie's movie, titled “Double Tap” was released with excellent reviews and audience. In the summer of 2000, Leslie received MTV's "Biggest Asian Artist Award." In the same year, Leslie made his directorial debut, “From Ashes to Ashes,” co-starred Anita Mui and various artists. Leslie has been appointed as the "Music Ambassador" for CASH (Composors and Authors Society of Hong Kong) and composed the theme song "Noah's Ark" for the CASH Golden Sail Award. In 2001, he was voted as #1 for the 10 Hottest Celebrities of the Millennium in Hong Kong. As a result of Leslie's hard work, he has obtained top awards in Hong Kong and overseas and has been worshiped by millions of fans worldwide as an icon of Asian pop music and film. He will always be loved and remembered as the one and only Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing, one of Asia's best.