And Finally Artist News Beef Of The Week

CMU Beef Of The Week #190: Mike Skinner v Leo Ihenacho

By | Published on Friday 17 January 2014

Leo Ihenacho

A new series of ‘The Voice’ started on BBC One last Saturday. You might have watched it. If not, they’ll probably have another one on this Saturday. You could watch that one instead. Though, you’ll not see the debut performance of former Streets vocalist Leo Ihenacho.

A bit like when former Happy Mondays singer Rowetta went on ‘X-Factor’ and all the judges kept patronising her by telling her it was her “last chance”, after several years trying to make it as a solo artist Ihenacho decided to hit one of those telly talent contests. And he seemingly went down very well, making it through the first stage and gaining that Kylie Minogue as a mentor.

If you’re struggling to remember him, Ihenacho – or Leo The Lion as he’s known – contributed vocals to two Streets albums, 2004’s ‘A Grand Don’t Come For Free’ and 2006’s ‘The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living’. Number one smash ‘Dry Your Eyes’ was one of his. He also toured with the band until 2007.

So, you could say that he was pretty integral to the sound of The Streets, at least for a time. And Wikipedia says that he was definitely an official member of the band. But the man whose project it actually was Mike Skinner says no. It’s hard to know who to trust.

Following Ihenacho’s introduction on ‘The Voice’ as a former member of Skinner’s now defunct project, Skinner himself updated his blog with a simple message: “Leo The Lion wasn’t in The Streets. He was a session singer on a few album tracks. He also sang on tour for a bit. He wasn’t part of any songwriting”.

Well, that’s harsh. We should probably find out what Leo himself thinks, eh? Thankfully, there’s this thing called Twitter that they have now. It’s basically like a newspaper, but anyone can write it. And it’s on computers.


Once he’d calmed down a bit, and/or discovered the caps lock button, he continued: “Explain to the fans why we haven’t spoken for years. You refuse to be happy for me. After all these years. You gonna post that?!”

Skinner did not post that, if you were wondering. But another former Streets member, keyboard player Eddie Jenkins came to Leo’s defence, tweeting: “Just saw Mike Skinner’s blog. I think the way he’s spoken about Leo The Lion is really sad. As an ex band member myself, I’d like to say [that] Leo and everyone else involved played a big part in the success of The Streets”.

Mike Skinner has said no more, but if The Streets keep getting mentioned as this series of ‘The Voice’ continues, who knows? Anyway, it’s worked well as a tactic to get people talking about the show. I look forward to former New Order member John Barnes entering next year’s ‘X-Factor’.