Chris Rea facts: 'Driving Home for Christmas' singer's age, health, wife and children revealed

19 November 2020, 17:16 | Updated: 8 February 2022, 17:21

Chris Rea
Chris Rea. Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

Chris Rea is one of the world's most respected and prolific blues rock musicians of all time.

The singer and guitarist makes a chart comeback every December thanks to his festive hit 'Driving Home for Christmas', but what are his other best known songs and is he married?

Here's all the important facts about the talented star:

  1. What are Chris Rea's most famous songs?

    Chris Rea - On the Beach (Official Music Video)

    Chris Rea scored an early top 40 hit in 1978 with 'Fool (If You Think It's Over)', a song Elkie Brooks had a bigger success with three years later.

    It wasn't until the late 1980s and early 1990s that Chris finally achieved true chart success with Dancing with Strangers and The Road to Hell albums.

    His best known hit is probably 'Driving Home for Christmas', which didn't even reach the top 40 the first time around in 1988. However, it has reached the top 40 every year since 2007, peaking at 11 in 2018.

    Read more: The Story of... 'Driving Home for Christmas'

    His other famous songs include:

    - On the Beach

    - Josephine

    - Let's Dance

    - Tell Me There's a Heaven

    - The Road to Hell (part 2)

    - Auberge

  2. Chris Rea age: How old is he and where is he from?

    Chris Rea was born on March 4, 1951, and celebrated his 69th birthday in 2020.

    He was born in Middlesbrough in Yorkshire, to an Italian father, Camillo Rea (died 2010) and an Irish mother, Winifred Snee (died 1983).

    He was one of seven children, and his family were of the Roman Catholic faith.

  3. What health issues has Chris Rea had?

    Chris Rea performing in 2017
    Chris Rea performing in 2017. Picture: Getty

    In 2000, Chris Rea was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and underwent surgery which resulted in the removal of part of his pancreas and gall bladder.

    Since having this surgery, Chris has had issues with diabetes and a weaker immune system, requiring over 30 pills and seven injections a day. He has had several operations since then.

    Despite the setback, he stayed positive, saying: "It's not until you become seriously ill and you nearly die and you're at home for six months, that you suddenly stop, to realize that this isn't the way I intended it to be in the beginning.

    "Everything that you've done falls away and you start wondering why you went through all that rock business stuff."

    Chris Rea had a stroke in 2016, which left him with slurred speech and limited movement in his arms and fingers.

    He soon quit smoking to halt further strokes, and thankfully was well enough to record more music and tour.

    In September 2017, he released his 24th album, Road Songs for Lovers, and went on tour across Europe.

    However, in December, Chris collapsed during a performance at the New Theatre Oxford. He was taken to hospital where his condition improved.

  4. Who is Chris Rea's wife and does he have children?

    Chris Rea and his daughter Josephine in 2013
    Chris Rea and his daughter Josephine in 2013. Picture: Getty

    Chris Rea is married to Joan Lesley.

    They have been a couple since they met as teenagers in 1968 in Middlesbrough.

    They have two daughters, Josephine (born 1983), and Julia Christina (born 1989).

    Josephine lectures on Renaissance art in Florence, and Julia studied at the University of St Andrews.