Since he formed his first band aged 14, David Courtney’s life has revolved around music. Oh, and Brighton.

“For me, all roads lead back here,” he smiles, looking out on to a wind-lashed seafront from his seat in The Grand.

It was at the Pavilion Theatre Courtney discovered a young Gerard – soon to become Leo – Sayer, the Shoreham-born musician who would be turned into a chart-topping pop star; here he first worked with The Who frontman Roger Daltrey, who went on to become a lifelong friend and godfather to his youngest daughter. And here Courtney was reunited with the woman he would marry 18 years after they first met.

It was 1971 when the songwriter and producer advertised the auditions that would bring Sayer to his attention – in The Argus of course (he later struck on his protégé’s stage name reading the paper’s horoscopes).

The four decades since have taken in love, death, friendship and struggles and been populated by some of the biggest names in music – from Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour to Sir Paul McCartney.

When Courtney, 61, came to write his memoirs, it was only natural they should be driven by music. After all, he says, “Music is like a time machine that can immediately transport you back to different points in your life. I wanted to capture that feeling as I was taking people with me on this journey. ”

The result is an ‘audiobiography’ – a format he thinks he may have pioneered that combines audiobook and music album. As Courtney talks about his life, the songs that soundtracked the period play in the background – everything from the first demo he recorded with his teenage band The Urchins to the hits he made with Sayer and Daltrey. He still maintains he can sniff out a hit record within the first eight bars: “You just have an ear for it, I think. I spotted Leo’s voice the minute I heard it.”

Born and raised in Brighton, Courtney started out promoting shows with his father, an entrepreneur whose brother was behind the building of Brighton Marina, where Courtney would later open the UK’s first Walk Of Fame in 2002.

“I definitely got my work ethic from my dad,” says Courtney. “Seeing how he and my uncle worked from the ground upwards was a great inspiration.”

He changed his name from Cohen around the time Sayer changed his name – much to his father’s chagrin.

“He couldn’t understand it.

He said ‘Showbusiness is run by Jewish people!” But I knew if I made it, I’d make it on my own terms.”

Realising he had something in Sayer, Courtney started writing with him and together they approached singer Adam Faith to manage him. Faith went on to become Courtney’s closest friend until his death in 2003.

“He taught me a lot about life in general,” he says of the 1960s star, who had top-ten hits with What Do You Want?, Someone Else’s Baby and Poor Me. “It was Adam who taught me, when you’re a kid, how to walk into a hotel and look like you belong. You know, stepping out of a Rolls Royce in jeans and a T-shirt, parking it outside and just walking straight in – real rock ’n’ roll!”

The relationship really launched his career; Faith offered to fund Sayer’s first album, Silverbird, which attracted the attention of Roger Daltrey, who asked the pair to write material for his first solo album (1973’s Daltrey, which included the single Giving It All Away).

Courtney can still recall the thrill of hearing two drunken sailors exiting a nightclub singing the hit and realising they’d made it.

“Because a hit record isn’t just about being on the radio or Top Of The Pops, it’s people walking along humming it. It has nothing to do with money but it shows how you have a power to touch people’s lives when you create something.”

Courtney split with Sayer shortly after his second album to pursue his own singing career, making a couple of albums before writing the first hits for David Van Day and Thereza Bazar’s duo Dollar. The pair remain good friends to this day, despite Sayer having relocated to Australia. Courtney is also in regular contact with Daltrey who, in 2010, opened Courtney’s Brighton Music Tunnel – an artistic memorial to the city’s rich musical history – located within the Sea Life Centre, formerly legendary 1960s music venue The Florida Rooms.

While there were a lot of highs to recount, Courtney admits making the book was an emotional experience.

He was forced to revisit episodes he would rather forget, such as the deaths of his beloved father (in a car crash) and his first wife, the actress Aixa Morena, who fell from a high-rise building in her native Venezuela some years after they had split up.

But he’s a philosophical sort of man, who can laugh at his less brilliant decisions, which include both turning down shares in the Crocodile Dundee movie – “I didn’t think it sounded very exciting at the time” – and the offer of writing music for a film called Bugsy Malone.

“I read the script and thought, ‘Kids running around with ice-cream guns?

Not for me.” Even of his personal tragedies, he says: “You never want these things to happen but eventually I think they turn out to be character-building. You either handle it and come out a better person or you don’t.”

These days, the father-ofthree is also a doting grandfather- of-five and has been married to Manon, who he first met in Brighton when she was just 16, for 21 years.

“It’s a bit of a fairytale really, isn’t it?” They live in Shoreham but Courtney is hoping to move back into Brighton soon. He can’t stay away long, he says. He’s lived in London and LA, but he’ll always return to his hometown. “There’s so much that’s unique and original about this place it’s hard not to get inspired.”

He is still involved in music with My Band TV, a programme he has launched to support emerging music talent, and has big, and sadly secret, plans to develop the Walk Of Fame (which The Grand will be inducted into next month). Then there’s his ongoing project to introduce a monorail along Brighton seafront. “It’s hard making it happen – people can be scared of change – but I’ll keep on pushing because I will get there eventually.”

It’s been a good life so far, he says happily, “and I’d do all of it again.”

* David Courtney’s The Truth Behind The Music is out now as a digital download, available from all leading online stores and at