"Kayleigh" was the first single from the album Misplaced Childhood by British neo-progressive rock band Marillion.[2] It remains the group's most successful single in terms of chart position. The single was a number 2 hit, being kept from the UK Number 1 spot by charity single "You'll Never Walk Alone" by supergroup The Crowd in the summer of 1985. It also made the top 10 in Ireland, Norway and France. "Kayleigh" is the band's sole appearance on the USA's Billboard Hot 100, hitting #74 in October 1985.[3]

The song received a great deal of media exposure in the UK. 41 Independent Local Radio stations in Britain had the track A-rated on their playlists and it became the most played single on BBC Radio 1. The band also made appearances on television shows such as Wogan and Top of the Pops. The promotional video for the single was shot in Berlin, where the Misplaced Childhood album was recorded, and featured Tamara Nowy, a German woman who subsequently married lead singer Fish, and Robert Mead, the boy portrayed on the sleeve of the album and the single. The song was performed by Fish at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute at Wembley Stadium, with Midge Ure on guitar and Phil Collins on drums.

As with all Marillion albums and singles of the Fish period, the cover art was created by Mark Wilkinson. The b-side on the international version, "Lady Nina", would go on to be used as a single promoting the 1986 US-only mini album Brief Encounter. "Lady Nina" is the only Marillion song from the Fish era to use a drum machine. The US version of the single uses "Heart of Lothian" instead, another track from Misplaced Childhood that would eventually be released as the third and final single from the album. A CD replica of the single was also part of a collectors box-set released in July 2000 which contained Marillion's first twelve singles and was re-issued as a 3-CD set in 2009 (see The Singles '82–'88).

Contents Edit


  • 1 Composition
  • 2 Legacy
  • 3 Track listing
    • 3.1 International 7" version
      • 3.1.1 Side 1
      • 3.1.2 Side 2
    • 3.2 US 7" version (Capitol Records)
      • 3.2.1 Side 1
      • 3.2.2 Side 2
    • 3.3 12" versions
      • 3.3.1 Side 1
      • 3.3.2 Side 2
    • 3.4 Cassette single
  • 4 Personnel
  • 5 Chart performance
  • 6 See also
  • 7 References
  • 8 External links

Composition[edit] Edit

Fish has said that his writing the song was 'his way of apologizing to some of the women he had dated in the past.' Although the lead singer and lyricist of the band, Fish, had at one point dated a woman whose forenames were Kay Lee, the song was more a composite of several different women with whom he had had relationships. Fish was quoted:

I was very confused at the time, you know, I had a lot of long term relationships, a lot of 'deep and meaningful' relationships that basically I'd wrecked because I was obsessed with the career and where I wanted to go. I was very, very selfish and I just wanted to be the famous singer but I was starting to become aware of the sacrifices that I was making, and I think that Kay was one of those sacrifices that went along the road. 'Kayleigh' was not just about one person; it was about three or four different people. The 'stilettos in the snow', that was something that happened in Galashiels, when I can remember going down one night and we were both really drunk, and, you know, dancin' under a street light, and 'dawn escapes from moon-washed college halls' was part of the Cambridge thing.[4]

The guitar hook line through the verse came about, according to Steve Rothery, from him demonstrating to his then girlfriend what effects a chorus and a delay pedal could add to a guitar's sound. Rothery recorded the song on a chorused Stratocaster guitar, using the pick and his second and third fingers to play it.[5] The album version features an extended guitar solo by Rothery, 27 seconds of which is edited for the single version.

On 24 October 2012, Marillion announced on Facebook that "Sad news via Fish - Kay - who inspired our song Kayleigh - has sadly died. RIP Kay."[6]

Legacy[edit] Edit

The song's popularity in the summer of 1985 was responsible for a significant rise in popularity of the name Kayleigh. Its popularity and legacy was addressed by Harry Wallop, writing in The Daily Telegraph in 2011:

In 2012, it was announced that the Scottish Borders Council was to inscribe extracts from the song's lyrics into the pavement at the newly developed Market Square in Galashiels. Council engineer David Johnstone said the authority felt it was appropriate to mark the links between Galashiels and the song:

The lyrics from the song Kayleigh included reference to the old textiles college. Some of the lyrics referred to 'dawn escapes from moon-washed college halls' and 'do you remember cherry blossom in the market square?' There was a feeling that these lyrics were really appropriate and because of the connection between the singer and Galashiels that it would be appropriate to engrave some of those lyrics into the paving and make more of a feature of it." Johnstone also said the original cherry trees referred to in the song had been removed due to disease but they would be replaced.[8]

On 8 October 2012, Aberdeen based rappers Shy & DRS released "The Love Is Gone", featuring lyrics and vocals from Sandi Thom. The song samples "Kayleigh". It reached number 7 in the iTunes Hip Hop Chart and Number 32 in the Scottish Official Chart.

The song was also featured on the soundtrack of the video game Grand Theft Auto IV on the fictional in-game station "Vice City FM" and in the movie Late Night Shopping.

In 2013, in a presentation on crowd funding for a TED conference in Bedford, Marillion keyboardist Mark Kelly identified the song's popularity as "part of the reason I've never had a proper job and I've been able to make a living from music for the past 32 years".[9]

In 2013, the name was described by the Daily Mail as "a career killer". In a report which questioned more than 600 workers between the ages of 20 and 35, Kayleigh was identified as the kind of name that impeded an individual's progress in the jobs market, with people with more traditional names being favoured instead.[10]

Track listing[edit] Edit

International 7" version[edit] Edit

Side 1[edit] Edit

  1. "Kayleigh" [Single Edit] – 3:33

Side 2[edit] Edit

  1. "Lady Nina" [Single Edit] – 3:41

US 7" version (Capitol Records)[edit] Edit

Side 1[edit] Edit

  1. "Kayleigh" [Single Edit] – 3:33

Side 2[edit] Edit

  1. "Heart of Lothian" [Single Edit] – 3:47

12" versions[edit] Edit

Side 1[edit] Edit

  1. "Kayleigh" [Alternative Mix] – 3:57
  2. "Kayleigh" [Extended Version] – 4:00

Side 2[edit] Edit

  1. "Lady Nina" [Extended Version] – 5:46

Cassette single[edit] Edit

  1. "Kayleigh" [Alternative Mix] – 3:57
  2. "Kayleigh" [Extended Version] – 4:00
  3. "Lady Nina" [Extended Version] – 5:46
  4. "Lady Nina" [Single Edit] – 3:41

Personnel[edit] Edit

  • Fish – vocals
  • Steve Rothery - guitars
  • Mark Kelly - keyboards
  • Pete Trewavas - bass
  • Ian Mosley - drums

Chart performance[edit] Edit

Chart (1985) Peak


UK Singles Chart[2] 2
Dutch GfK chart[11] 12
Dutch Top 40[12] 16
French Singles Chart 2
Irish Singles Chart[13] 4
Norwegian Singles Chart[14] 8
Swiss Singles Chart[15] 19
US Billboard Hot 100 74
US Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 14