"I have the most incredible life of anyone I know," Seal once said. He certainly has a point. An abused youngster who grew up in rough London neighbourhoods and was scarred by a childhood disease, these days Sealhenry Samuel is an international pop star, writing hits in LA and married to model Heidi Klum.
Born on February 19, 1963, to parents of Nigerian descent, Seal was taken in by white foster parents from Romford, Essex, but was later reclaimed by his natural mother at the age of four. Soon after, he came under the care of his father in Kilburn, where he says he suffered beatings until he finally left home aged 15. "I don't regret anything that happened in my childhood," he would reflect later, adding: "It was all integral to making me what I am today."
In the following years, Seal worked as a bike messenger, fast food worker and for a King's Road designer. In the mid-Eighties he toured Japan with a funk group and enjoyed a short-lived stint with a Thai blues band.
His first taste of fame came in 1990 with the hit single Killer
, a collaboration with house and techno producer Adamski. The following year, he released his first solo album, Seal
, which sold three million copies worldwide and spawned the classic song Crazy.
"I knew the album was good," he said, "but never expected so much success so soon."
Tall he"s a towering 6ft 4in and handsome, Seal had a dramatic image to match his pop-funk-dance sound. And his striking facial scars, from a childhood struggle with the auto-immune disease lupus, only helped to make him more memorable in the image-dominated world of pop.
In 1994, the singer released follow-up album containing the Top 40 hit Prayer For The Dying
. The disc had been on shelves for more than a year, however, when A Kiss From A Rose
reached number one after being included on the Batman Forever
soundtrack. The single subsequently spent 45 weeks on the US charts. The second album, Seal
, sold four million copies in the US alone and earned him three Grammys.
It took four years before his next project, Human Being,
was released, and though it was critically well-received, sales were disappointing. Suffering from writers' block, the musician left LA, where he'd lived during most of the Nineties, to return to London. "I'd been away from home for so long I'd forgotten who I was, where I came from, what I was doing and why it was people responded to my music," he explained. "Going back to the places I grew up
I just realised there's no place like home."
Returning to his adopted California home with "a whole new perspective", he wrote the soulful Love's Divine
. The single, which appeared on 2004's Seal IV
, was a chart success and the album hit the top ten throughout Europe.
In his personal life, Seal started dating supermodel Heidi Klum not long after she split from Flavio Briatore in 2003 while pregnant with the Formula One boss's child. The two have been together ever since, with the singer stepping into the role of father to little Leni. Just before Christmas 2004, Seal popped the question and the pair were married in Mexico in May 2005. Their son, Henry, arrived in September of that year, followed by Johan in November 2006.
2007 marked a return to the studio for the singer, who released his fifth album System