Age 11 began study of classical and Spanish guitar in Singapore with Robert Lu.


Begins full time professional solo music career, playing original and Spanish instrumentals on the classic guitar, and original acoustic folk and covers.

Composes two pieces for the Santa Barbara Choreographers Collaboration, performs live musical accompaniment with them for the ballet performances at UCSB and the Lobero Theater in Santa Barbara, California.

Studies, arranges, rehearses, records and performs with numerous professional musicians and songwriters.

Composes, records and releases “Carmel”, original instrumentals on classical guitar. (recorded and engineered by Dave  Fitzpatrick) “Carmel” receives national and international airplay on F.M. radio stations. Tracks from “Carmel” receive full rotation on The WAVE, Los Angeles’s biggest radio station. “Carmel” gets national distribution by a division of Narada Records.

Becomes active member of BMI. Collects royalties through BMI for national and international airplay.

Forms a duo and trio, with guitarists Pat Milliken & Jason Frost.

Original song entitled “Bonsai Cruiser” receives airplay on FM stations in Japan.


Forms “The Leo Downey Band” with the late Jack Folks on bass, Pete Markiewicz on drums, Dave Fitzpatrick on lead guitar and Richard Everett on keyboards.

Along the way on drums were : Gorge Michaelson, Christian Martinez, Bo Fox, and Chris Thomas. Hendrick Rick from Montreal, Quebec joined to play bass. Jason Frost on lead guitar. Other members were Tom Crockett on harmonica, Shawn Thies and Katie Malloy on back up vocals, Rob C. Robles on trumpet, Eddie Roberts on trumpet, Lily violin Sting.

Makes numerous live television and radio appearances solo, with his trio and with The Leo Downey Band.

Becomes conditional member of Screenwriter and Actors Guild.

Composes “Lonely Number”, title track for syndicated documentary film titled “Cancelled Lives, Letters from Prison”.

Opens for Kris Kristofferson at San Luis Obispo County Fair.

Performs with Joe Sample twice in Mammoth, California.

Opens for Lee Oskar at The Ventura Theater. Performs with Lee Oskar (Lee Oskar Harmonica’s) numerous times in Santa Barbara, California.

Performs with Paul Cotton of “Poco” numerous times in Santa Barbara, California. Opens solo and with The Leo Downey Band for Paul Cotton at The Ventura Theater. Headlines at Hollywood’s premier clubs, F.M. Station, Coconut Teaser and The Whisky a Go Go.


Composes, records and releases “Heaven and Hell” CD.

Receives strong critical acclaim on radio and in print media and wins a place on Los Angeles’s KLOS F.M. “Best of Licks”

Headlines Sierra Summer Festival in Mammoth California.

The Leo Downey Band headlines for the 4th of July celebration in Mammoth, California. Audience of 24,000.

Draws record crowds with his band and solo acoustic appearances throughout Southern California. Performing steadily 3-7 nights a week since 1980.

The Leo Downey Band wins a contest among hundreds of bands, sponsored by Budweiser, and is offered a promotional contract by The Budweiser Company.

Leo Downey is offered a 3 record deal with Sony Records through Chris Pelonis A&R Sony Records and Tony McIlwain, Artist Management.

Leo takes time in the desert mountains north of Santa Barbara to consider these offers, and decides to leave the music business and live alone in the wilderness. Leo becomes deeply involved as a volunteer with the California Condor Recovery Project. He spends extended periods fasting alone in the wilderness. His profound experiences there inspired him to create “Sanctuary Wilderness Journeys”, a wilderness survival guiding business.

1990’s Onwards

Leo married Karen Hansen in 1996 and together their combined vision brought them to British Columbia, Canada, where they created Sanctuary Retreat, Rocky Mountain Buffalo Ranch & Company.

Now 16 years after walking away from the music business, Leo returns to his passion for music and weaves his experiences of Canadian mountain culture, the buffalo, friends and family life to create soulful originals that move and inspire his audience.

Leo release’s a new CD in 2008.