retro record

LISTEN: This quiet ’70s hitmaker sang for the queer love he’s tragically lost

Most who heard England native Labi Siffre’s love songs back in the ’70s had no idea he wasn’t singing about women. Even fewer knew he was singing about future husband Peter Lloyd, who he’d met nearly a decade prior.

The singer’s folksy stylings on 1972 work Crying, Laughing, Loving, Lying earned him a handful of well-charting songs in the UK. His work would go on to be sampled throughout the ’90s and ’00s, mainly by rappers like Eminem and Jay-Z, but not in ways that captured the pristine romance of this early work.

Siffre’s propensity as a romantic was apparently longstanding. He stated in an interview with The Guardian that, by age 11, he knew he wanted to “find someone and make them love me for the rest of our lives.”

In an abundance of fortune, he actually found two such people. Nearly 30 years into his partnership with Lloyd, the pair fell in love with Rudolf “Ruud” van Baardwijk and made their twosome a bonded trio.

“I went looking for love,” the singer said. “But it was only when I met Ruud and we became three that I stopped looking entirely. For nearly 16 years the three of us lived together in a ménage à trois. And I realised I’d made the family that I’d been trying to make for the whole of my life.”

Siffre’s music took a backseat in the late ’90s after Lloyd suffered a severe stroke. For the next 14 years, the singer and his other husband happily played caretaker in a house in the Welsh mountains.

Tragically, Lloyd passed away in 2013, and two years later, van Baardwijk followed.

“I’ve always taken love very seriously,” Siffre reiterated. “Not just what it is, but how disastrous it would be to be without it.”

When asked about the pair’s departure, he could only say, “That’s something that I’m still … I don’t know what the word is.”

The singer has just recently returned to music, debuting two lovely new tunes in a BBC documentary entitled Labi Siffre: This Is My Song.

Revel in the soft domesticity of the Crying, Loving deep-cut “‘Till Forever”:

Don't forget to share: