Saturday, June 12, 2021


( Lulu Image via PAILISH )

Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie was born in 1948 in Lennox Castle, Lennoxtown, Scotland, the daughter of a butcher. Marie grew up in Dennistoun, Glasgow, where she attended Thomson Street Primary School and Onslow Drive Junior School. Little Marie loved to sing as a child and started at the tender age of 12 year old with a local group called the Bellrocks. At 14 she joined The Gleneagles and had a regular spot at the Lindella Club, Glasgow.

( British singer -songwriter Lulu Image via getty images)

The owner of the club had a sister, Marion Massey (c.1930 – 2014) who was one of a few female theatrical agents based in London. In 1962 Marion signed up the new girl and gave her the stage name Lulu and the backing band The Gleneagles became The Luvvers. Lulu and the Lovers became part of the Decca stable of artist. The precarious nature of the music business and the vulnerability of a young girl was enough for Massey to invite Lulu to live with her family in her London home. Lulu attributes much of her success to having had a family-oriented and mature manager in Marion Massey. Decca released Lulu’s first record in 1964. It was a raucous cover version of The Isley Brothers’ “Shout” and it became an instant UK hit and reached #7. She was fifteen.

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Decca quickly followed up with the more soulful ‘Here Comes The Night' (1964), and 'Leave A little Love' (1964). 'Try To Understand' (1965) was a bit more poppy and all reached the lower end of the UK charts.

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By the end of 1965, Lulu was voted 'Britain's Most Promising Newcomer in Showbusiness,' and she and The Lovers briefly featured in 'Gonks go Beat' released in the same year. Lulu also sang 'Choc Ice' over the title sequence.

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The lack of major chart success forced her to leave The Luvvers behind and join Columbia as a solo artist and there she was teamed with producer Mickie Most. In April 1967, Lulu was back in the UK singles charts (#6) with "The Boat That I Row", written by Neil Diamond.

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The relationship between artist and producer was not always as harmonious as her singing but the results in chart success gave her the most successful years (1967-68) in her career. All seven singles cut with Most made the UK Top Ten Singles Chart. These included: 'Let's Pretend'(1967), 'Love Loves To Love Love ' (1967) 'Me The Peaceful Heart' (1968), 'Boy' (1968) and 'I'm A Tiger' (1969)'.

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In 1967, Lulu had shown herself a credible actress when she co-starred with Sidney Poitier in E. R. Braithwaite's 'To Sir with love' directed by James Clavell. Lulu also sang the title song which surprisingly did not chart in the UK, but topped the charts in the US, ensuring her internationaal success.

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In 1967, Lulu appeared with The Monkees at the Empire Pool, Wembley, and quickly there were rumours she and Davy Jones were an item.

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By now she had become a polished performer and toured extensively. In 1968 she co-hosted a new TV show (BBC) entitled Three Of A Kind, with Mike Yarwood. Lulu was such a hit she appeared regularly until 1975. Her popular variety shows went under various titles including: Lulu's Back In Town, Happening For Lulu, Lulu and It's Lulu, which featured Adrienne Posta. Her BBC series featured music and comedy sketches and star guests, including Jimi Hendrix. TV history was made when Jimi Hendrix shocked everyone with an impromptu tribute to Cream on live TV.

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In 1969, Lulu was chosen to represent the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest and won with, "Boom Bang-a-Bang", written by Peter Warne and Alan Moorhouse.

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In the same year Lulu married Maurice Gibb (Bee Gees). A romance which started after the couple met backstage at Top of the Pops. Sadly careers and his heavy drinking forced them apart and they divorced in 1973.

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In 1970, she embarked on a trans-American tour with Englebert Humperdinck and also took time out from her heavy schedule to co-host television's 'Andy Williams Show' with singer Ray Stevens.

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She toured Australia, New Zealand and the Far East at the peak of her career. Despite this chart success eluded the singer then in 1974 she released a cover version of David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World" and "Watch That Man". Bowie and Mick Ronson produced both recordings and the former became Lulu's biggest record successes going to #3 in the UK and Top Ten in other countires but failed to chart in the US.

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Lulu was chosen to sing the title song for the James Bond film 'The Man with the Golden Gun.'

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Her follow up release 'Take Your Mama For A Ride' (1975) sold reasonably well but barely broke into the Top 40 in the UK.

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The singer got married to London Hairdresser John Frieda in 1976. The couple separated in 1990. The erly 80s saw more chart success for Lulu in the US with 'I Could Never Miss You (More Than I Do)' (1981), 'If I Were You' (1982), and the Grammy nominated track 'Who's Foolin' Who' (1982).

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She continued to make records and popped up in the top ten charts starting with a release of 'Shout' (1986). 'Relight my fire,' with Take That topped the charts in 1993, and a duet Ronan Keating, "We've Got Tonight" reached Number 4 in 2002. This would mark her last chart entry.

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She continues to to entertain and from time to time has successfully diversified into acting. Lulu was made a Companion of the British Empire (CBE) in 2021 for her serves to music and her charity work. Lulu remains without question the greatest Scottish Female entertainer of the 20th century.

(Video Courtesy: Lulu Youtube Channel)

Reviewed 14/06/2021

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