Born in New Zealand a few too many years ago, Leighton moved to Australia when he was 10 years old, quickly adopting it as his "spiritual" home. By age 15, he had traded his classical piano for an acoustic guitar and the songs of Bob Dylan, Buddy Holly and Donovan Leitch, et al. After successfully touring as a folk-singer, he took on a busy career as an actor, appearing nightly in Australian and international homes.
Even with his success as an actor, Leighton kept returning to his music, the music of Australia, writing about the land - the desert spaces of the Outback, the rivers, towns and people, some of whom become marked indelibly on the memory, like "The Afghan Pioneer", "Billy With the Belly On the Bar" and the citizens in "The Terrors Of A Country Town".
"Some of our properties (ranches), or stations, are a million square acres. When you’re talking that kind of area, you can’t help but get a feeling of isolation." That feeling brings a closeness to the land that comes out in his music. "Wide, Brown Land", "The Outback" and "The Murray Stream" paint vivid images of the beauty - and space - to be found “Down Under”.
But, for music to truly work its magic, it must take us further than the Australian Bush. An artist must also know the landscape of the heart, for it’s there that the spirit makes its presence most powerfully felt. And songs like "I Have Seen A Sparrow Fall", "Verge of Tears" and "On MyWay Back Home To You" rival the power of any ballads by any artist today. His songs have also been recorded by many other artists.
In January, 1993, Leighton was invited to perform a series of concerts in the US and, happily for music lovers there, decided to stay. He has racked up an impressive list of accolades since the start of his US tour but has settled back in his beloved Australia, mate!
Equally at home in front of 30 or 30 million, his quiet manner and wry humour work magic with the crowd and his songs have a tendency to make one a little homesick, even if they’ve never been "Down Under".
Joe Stanley, Cashbox Magazine