1948 – Singer Lulu (Marie McDonald Lawrie) is born in Lennoxcastle, Scotland. Her biggest hit is “To Sir with Love,” a No. 1 song from the 1967 movie of the same name.
Lulu Kennedy-Cairns, OBE, (born Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie on 3 November 1948 in Lennoxtown, East Dunbartonshire), best known by her stage name Lulu, is a Scottish singer-songwriter, actress, model and television personality, who has been successful in the entertainment business from the 1960s through to the present day.
Lulu grew up in Glasgow, where she attended Whitehill Senior Secondary School, Dennistoun. Taken under the wing of Marion Massey, she shot to fame at the age of fifteen with her version of “Shout”, delivered in a raucous and extraordinarily mature voice. Her backing group were called The Luvvers, but after several more British hits she left the group to become a solo artist. Massey would guide her career for more than 25 years, for most of which she was Lulu’s equal partner as a business enterprise. Massey’s husband Marc London also wrote many of Lulu’s hits.
In 1966, Lulu toured Poland with the British rock and roll band The Hollies, making her the first British female singer to appear live behind the Iron Curtain. In the same year, she recorded two German language tracks, “Wenn Du Da Bist” and “So Fing es an” for the Decca Germany label. She left Decca after failing to place any singles on the chart in 1966 and signed with Columbia to be produced by Mickie Most. All of the 7 singles she cut and released with Most made the UK chart. Despite this, Lulu was disparaging about Mr. Most in her autobiography “I Don’t Want To Fight”, published in 2002. She described him as “cheap” and had little positive to say about their working relationship, which she ended in 1969 after her biggest UK solo hit. Nonetheless, when Mickie Most died in 2003, Lulu was full of praise for him and told the BBC they had been very close.
In 1967 she made her debut as a film actress in To Sir, with Love, a British vehicle for Sidney Poitier. She had a major hit with the title song “To Sir, with Love”, which shot to number one in the United States; she makes notable use of melisma in the song, and decades later it remains the song for which she is best known in that country. (In the UK, it was released only on the B-side of “Let’s Pretend”, a # 11 hit.) In the meantime, she continued with a thriving pop career in the UK and several television series of her own. From 30 June to 2 July 1967, Lulu appeared on The Monkees tour at the Empire Pool, Wembley. Rumours of a romance and indeed an engagement with Davy Jones of The Monkees were rife, but it was a complete media fabrication, created by Jones himself, apparently with her tacit approval.
The Eurovision Song Contest
On 29 March 1969, she represented the United Kingdom by performing the song “Boom Bang-a-Bang” at the Eurovision Song Contest. The song was chosen by viewers of her BBC1 variety series Happening for Lulu from a shortlist of six entries. Lulu performed one song a week for six weeks and then on week seven, Michael Aspel presented Lulu performing all six songs, one after another. The performances were then repeated and viewers invited to send in postcard votes for their favourites. The six songs were: Bet Ya, March, Are You Ready For Love?, Boom Bang-a-Bang, Come September and I Can’t Go On Living Without You. I Can’t Go On… was written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. Michael Aspel introduced them as Elton Jones and Bernie Poppins! Their song came last in the postcard vote, but was later recorded by Cilla Black, Sandie Shaw, Polly Browne, Lulu and Elton himself. Boom Bang-a-Bang, written by Peter Warne and Alan Moorhouse was declared the winner. On stage in Madrid, Lulu was accompanied by Sunny & Sue, two well-known backing singers who went on to be the first female members of Brotherhood of Man. The orchestra was conducted by Johnny Harris, Lulu’s resident musical director.
Lulu’s Boom Bang-a-Bang was the joint Eurovision winner with the representatives of Spain, Vivo Cantando by Salomé, the Netherlands, De Troubabour by Lenny Kuhr and France, Un jour, un enfant by Frida Boccara all tied with 18 votes each. There had never been a draw before, and the rules were altered to prevent it ever happening again. According to John Kennedy O’Connor’s The Eurovision Song Contest – The Official History, the result caused dismay and disgust, leading to Austria, Portugal, Norway, Sweden and Finland all refusing to enter the 1970 competition. Lulu had the biggest hit around the continent with her winner, recording German, French, Spanish and Italian versions alongside the original English.
* In 1975 she hosted the BBC’s A Song for Europe contest, the qualifying heat for the Eurovision Song Contest. She joined fellow Eurovision winners at a charity gala held in Norway in 1981. She was also a panellist at the 1989 UK heat, offering views on two of the competing eight entries. She told John Peel backstage that although she did not like Boom Bang-a-Bang, she’d have sung anything just so long as she won the contest. “I know it’s a rotten song, but I won, so who cares? I’d have sung Baa Baa Black Sheep standing on my head if that’s what it took to win…. I am just so glad I didn’t finish second like all the other Brits before me, that would have been awful.” Oddly enough, her potentially inflammatory statement only endeared her further to the European public.
* Since then, Lulu rarely talks about her Eurovision experiences, or her song Boom Bang-a-Bang, which she then and now dislikes despite the fact that it was her biggest solo UK hit (reaching number two on the chart in 1969).
Below Lulu explains how she got into the contest, and about what came out (From the BBC Radio 2 special on 50 Years Of The Eurovision Song Contest):
I had a series on TV, and Bill Cotton was the Head of Light Entertainment , and he said to my manager: “I’d like her to do the Eurovision Song Contest, on the series”. And she came to me and I went “Why? What do I want to do that for?”… and she said that he said that “you’ll get good ratings, and he is the boss, and he wants you to have good ratings.
Maybe I could have said no, but I felt I didn’t really have a choice in the matter. And I thought… I was full of myself, thinking ratings isn’t what it’s all about… But, you know, Elton John and Bernie Taupin wrote a great song that didn’t go through…
I had this amazing band, like 20 pieces. We did all these different songs… every single one of us said “Which one is gonna win? Which one is gonna win?” and we all laughed and went: “Bet you it’s that Boom boom bang a bang a bang a bang…” (Laughs) “But then it won. Somehow there was an intelligence working there… and it was a huge success.
Only weeks before her Eurovision appearance, Lulu married fellow musical star Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees in a ceremony in Gerrards Cross. Maurice’s older brother Barry was opposed to their marriage as he believed them to be too young. Their honeymoon in Mexico had to be postponed because of Lulu’s Eurovision commitment. Their careers and his heavy drinking forced them apart, and they divorced, childless, in 1973 but remained on good terms. In 1970 Lulu was back on the US charts with the top 30 hit “Oh Me Oh My (I’m a Fool for You Baby)” (later covered by Aretha Franklin and also John Holt) and a collaboration with the Dixie Flyers on “Hum a Song (From Your Heart).” In 1969, she recorded “New Routes” an album recorded at Muscle Shoals studios; several of the songs featured slide guitarist Duane Allman, including a surprisingly haunting version of Jerry Jeff Walker’s Mr. Bojangles. A year later she followed with a similar album “Melody Fair”. Both were recorded for Atlantic’s Atco label and were produced by Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd and Arif Mardin. She also recorded 4 other German Language tracks, (“Ich Brauche Deine Liebe”, “Wach’ ich oder träum’ ich’, “Warum Tust Du Mir Weh”, and “Traurig Aber Wahr”) on the Atlantic record label. These songs again, went un-noticed in the German music market.
After appearing in a successful TV series, “Three Of A Kind”, which aired on the BBC in 1967, a format that featured music and comedy, Lulu was given her own TV series in 1968, which ran annually until 1975 under various titles including “Lulu’s Back In Town”, “Happening For Lulu”, “Lulu”, and “It’s Lulu”. She later co-hosted a revived series of “Oh Boy!” for ITV in the early 1980s. Her BBC series featured music and comedy sketches and star guests. Her most famous guest was possibly Jimi Hendrix, who appeared in 1969, swore live on the show and refused to stick to the original songs that had been planned. In 1999, Lulu returned to BBC1 to host their Saturday night lottery/game show “Red Alert” which bombed and was very short-lived.
In 1972 she starred in the Christmas pantomime Peter Pan at the Palace Theatre, Manchester where the show was a huge success. She repeated her performance at the London Palladium in 1975, and returned to the same role in different London-based productions from 1987 to early 1989. Other notable London stage appearances came in the early 1980s in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Song And Dance” and the National Theatre’s “Guys and Dolls”. She damaged her vocal cords while performing in the Webber show, requiring surgery that threatened her singing voice.
In 1974 she performed the title song in the James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun. Two slightly different versions of the song were used, at the start and end respectively – the end song actually name-checking James Bond.
Also during 1974, she did a cover of two of David Bowie’s classic songs, “The Man Who Sold the World” and “Watch That Man”. Bowie himself produced the recordings and played saxophone, and provided back-up vocals on it. There were also rumours that they had a brief love affair at the time. Confusingly, Lulu confirmed these rumours in her 2002 autobiography. Bowie, perhaps characteristically, evaded comment on the subject.
“The Man Who Sold the World” peaked at number three on the UK chart, her first UK top 10 hit in five years and also her last until 1986.
In 1977, Lulu married John Frieda, who was previously her hairdresser, and remained with him for twenty years until divorcing him in 1995, having separated in 1991. They had one son, Jordan Frieda later in 1977. She became interested in Eastern mysticism and joined Siddha Yoga, a new religious movement.
Lulu’s singing career waned, but she continued to remain in the public eye, continuing to act and host her own long running radio show on London’s Capital Radio station. She also became the celebrity spokes-model for Freeman’s fashion catalogue for a long while during the late 1970s and early 1980s. In late 1979, Lulu’s career suffered a minor setback when she was in a car accident that nearly took her life, having collided head on with another car on Brooksend Hill. That same year, she recorded for Elton John’s label Rocket and seemed about to hit the charts again with the lauded “I Love To Boogie”, but surprisingly, despite critical acclaim and much airplay, it did not make the top 75.
In 1981 Lulu returned to the US chart with “I Could Never Miss You (More Than I Do)”, a Top 20 hit which also reached number two on the Adult Contemporary chart despite stalling at number 62 in the UK. The same year, she appeared in the video for Ant Rap alongside Adam And The Ants and was nominated for a Grammy for “Who’s Foolin’ Who” from the “Lulu” album. She won the Rear of the Year award in 1983 and re-recorded a number of her songs. This included “Shout,” which reached the Top 10 in 1986 in the UK, securing her a spot to perform on the popular BBC music programme, Top Of The Pops. In 2002, Lulu achieved the accolade of being one of only two performers (Cliff Richard being the other) to have sung in the Top Of The Pops studio in each of the five decades that the show ran. A follow up single to “Shout”, an updated version of Millie’s 1960s hit My Boy Lollipop, failed to chart and Lulu stopped recording until 1992, focussing instead on TV, acting and live performances. These tracks were released on the Jive label. Lulu has had hits on the Decca, Columbia, Atco, Polydor, Chelsea, Alfa, Jive, Dome, RCA, Mercury and Universal labels. She has also released singles for GTO, Atlantic, Globe, EMI, Concept, Lifestyle, Utopia and Rocket, and Epic in the USA. For a while, she held the record for the most number of hit labels in the UK charts.In 1987, she played Adrian Mole’s mother on television (replacing Julie Walters), and in 1993 she made a recording comeback, with the single Independence which reached number 11 on the UK charts.
Later that year she guested on the cover version of the Dan Hartman song “Relight My Fire”, with boyband Take That. The single reached number one in the British charts and Lulu went on to become Take That’s support act for their 1994 tour. By this time, her marriage to John Frieda had completely crumbled, and with the divorce, she released “Independence” in January 1993. She also appeared as herself, an unhappy public relations client of main character Edina Monsoon in two episodes of the hugely popular BBC television programme Absolutely Fabulous. She teamed with French and Saunders many times, including their send up of The Spice Girls (The Sugar Lumps) for Comic Relief in 1997 when she took the role of “Baby Spice”, mimicking Emma Bunton, who in turn appeared on Saunders’ show Absolutely Fabulous in a self-mocking cameo as herself, a refugee (with Edina’s daughter, Saffy) of a prestigious girls’ school. The title track from “Independence” just missed the top ten and all four singles released from the album hit the UK charts, as did two later singles released in 1994. Despite these hit singles, the album itself did not make a major impact on the charts, though it seemed to do nothing to diminish her European celebrity. A further album recorded in 1999 provisionally titled Where the Poor Boys Dance was shelved due to unsuccessful supporting singles such as Hurt Me So Bad which charted, but did not make the Top 40.
Also in 1999, she co-wrote and recorded a duet with UK pop singer Kavana entitled Heart Like The Sun, but it was not released commercially until Kavana’s 2007 greatest hits collection, Special Kind Of Something: The Best of…. Lulu’s return to prime time BBC TV with the National Lottery Game Show “Red Alert” proved disastrous and despite a revamp, was quickly shelved.Now officially known as Lulu Kennedy-Cairns, in 2000, she was awarded an OBE by the Queen. Her 2002 autobiography is called I Don’t Want to Fight after the hit song she and her brother wrote with hit songwriter Steve DuBerry for Tina Turner, which is a song that Lulu later released in 2003, as part of her The Greatest Hits album. In 2002 her gold album Together was a collection of duets with the likes of Elton John and Paul McCartney, tracks from which were performed in a high profile TV special for ITV, “An Audience With Lulu”, which saw Lulu reunite with her first husband Maurice Gibb for a live performance of “First Of May”. She followed this with the publication of her autobiography, “I Don’t Want To Fight.”
In 2004 she released the album Back on Track and went on a UK-wide tour to celebrate 40 years in the business despite the album charting at a low No 68. In late 2004, Lulu returned to radio, becoming the host of her own 2-hour radio show, on BBC Radio 2, playing an eclectic blend of music from the 1950s to the 2000s, all having to do with the influence of songwriting. In 2005, Lulu released A Little Soul in Your Heart, a collection of soul classics that entered the UK charts at a disappointing No. 28. after a large amount of TV advertising. In March 2006, Lulu launched her official MySpace profile, where she could keep in contact with current fans, and reconnect with old ones.Lulu continues to act occasionally and starred alongside Tom Courtenay and Stephen Fry in the British movie, Whatever Happened to Harold Smith?.She has more recently appeared in the BBC’s reality TV show Just the Two of Us in 2006 as a judge, and in late June and early July 2006, appeared on Take That’s UK and Ireland tour, to perform their song “Relight My Fire”. She appeared on American Idol Season 6 on March 20, 2007 as a mentor for the female contestants, and the following night performed “To Sir, With Love” live. Later in 2007 Lulu appeared in the UK as a guest for Jools Holland in his series of concerts and features and on Holland’s CD release “Best Of Friends”, performing “Where Have All The Good Guys Gone?”
Performing with Jools Holland, Borde Hill 23rd June 2007.
Lulu’s complete Atco recordings (made between 1969 and 1972) were released onto a twin CD set for the first time on 12 November 2007. The two CD set included previously unreleased demo versions of some of her recordings from this period. In December 2007, Lulu released a download single on iTunes in the UK, called “Run Rudolph, Run”. At this time Lulu was also promoting a range of beauty products on the QVC digital shopping channel in the UK, called “Time Bomb”, and appears on the latest television advertisement for Morrisons, the UK Supermarket chain.
* 1965 Something to Shout About
* 1967 Love Loves to Love Lulu (US-title: “Lulu sings To Sir, with Love” (Epic BN26339))#24 US
* 1967 To Sir, with Love (soundtrack)
* 1969 Lulu’s Album
* 1969 New Routes – #88 US
* 1970 Melody Fair
* 1970 It’s Lulu
* 1971 The Most of Lulu — #15 UK
* 1973 Lulu (aka: The Man Who Sold The World)
* 1976 Heaven and Earth and the Stars
* 1978 Don’t Take Love For Granted
* 1980 The Very Best of Lulu
* 1981 Lulu – #126 US
* 1981 Take Me to Your Heart Again
* 1984 Shape and Dance With Lulu
* 1993 Independence — #67 UK
* 1997 Absolutely Lulu
* 2002 Together — #4 UK (Duets with Various Artists)
* 2003 The Greatest Hits — #35 UK
* 2004 Back on Track — #68 UK
* 2005 A Little Soul in Your Heart — #28 UK
* 2007 The Atco Sessions 1969-1972
* 1964 “Shout” (Decca) — #7 UK / #94 US
* 1964 “Can’t You Hear Me No More” (Decca)
* 1964 “Here Comes the Night” (Decca) — #50 UK
* 1964 “Satisfied” (Decca)
* 1965 “Leave a Little Love” (Decca) — #8 UK
* 1965 “Try to Understand” (Decca) — #25 UK
* 1965 “Tell Me Like It Is”/”Stop Fooling Around” (Decca)
* 1966 “Call Me” (Decca)
* 1966 “What A Wonderful Feeling” (Decca)
* 1966 “Wenn du da bist/So fing es an” (Germany)
* 1967 “Stealing My Love From Me” (US)
* 1967 “The Boat That I Row” (Columbia) — #6 UK / #15 IRL
* 1967 “Let’s Pretend” (Columbia) — #11 UK (“To Sir, with love” was the flip side of this single in the UK.)
* 1967 “To Sir, with love” (Epic) (US) — “‘#1 US”‘ (5 wks., certified Gold) / # 9 US R + B
* 1967 “Love Loves To Love Love” (Columbia) — #32 UK sampled by Fatboy Slim on “Santa Cruz”
* 1967 “Shout!” (US re-issue) — #96 US
* 1968 “Best Of Both Worlds” (Epic) (US) — #32 US
* 1968 “Me, The Peaceful Heart” (Columbia) — #9 UK / #11 IRL/ #53 US
* 1968 “Boy” (Columbia) — #15 UK
* 1968 “Morning Dew” (Epic) (US) — #52 US
* 1968 “I’m A Tiger” (Columbia) — #9 UK / #8 IRL / #18 AT
* 1968 “This Time” (Epic)(US)
* 1969 “Boom Bang-a-Bang” (Columbia) (Recorded in English, French, Spanish, German, and Italian) (Eurovision song contest WINNER) (18points) — #2 UK / #1 IRL/ #1 NO / #3 CH / # 10 AT
* 1969 Oh Me, Oh My (I’m A Fool for You Baby) (Atco) — #47 UK / #22 US / #36 US AC
* 1970 “Hum A Song (From Your Heart)” (with the Dixie Flyers)(Atco) — #54 US / #26 US AC
* 1970 “Oh Me, Oh My (Povera Me)” (Italy)
* 1970 “After the Feeling Is Gone” (with the Dixie Flyers)(Atco) — #117 US / #20 US AC
* 1971 “Everybody Clap” (Atlantic) featuring Maurice Gibb, John Bonham and Jack Bruce
* 1971 “Ich brauche deine Liebe/ Wach’ ich oder träum’ ich” (Atlantic) (Germany)
* 1971 “Warum tust du mir weh/Traurig, aber wahr” (Atlantic) (Germany)
* 1972 “Even If I Could Change” (Atlantic)
* 1972 “You Ain’t Wrong, You Just Ain’t Right” (Atlantic) (US)
* 1972 “Make Believe World” (Chelsea) (US)
* 1974 “The Man Who Sold the World” (Polydor) — #3 UK/ #8 IRL
* 1974 “The Man With The Golden Gun” (Chelsea)
* 1975 “Take Your Mama For A Ride (Pt. 1)” (Chelsea) — #37 UK
* 1975 “Boy Meets Girl” (Chelsea)
* 1975 “Heaven And Earth And The Stars” (Chelsea)
* 1977 “Your Love Is Everywhere” (GTO)
* 1978 “Don’t Take Love For Granted” (Rocket)
* 1979 “I Love To Boogie” (Rocket)
* 1981 “I Could Never Miss You (More Than I Do)” (Alfa) — #62 UK / #18 US / #2 US AC
* 1982 “If I Were You” (Alfa) — #44 US / #27 US AC
* 1982 “I Will Do It For Your Love” (Alfa)
* 1982 “Take Me To Your Heart Again” (Alfa)
* 1984 “Is That So?” (Lifestyle)
* 1985 “Love Is The Answer” (Tonpress Poland)
* 1985 “Hello My Friend” (Tonpress Poland)
* 1986 “Shout!” (Jive) (new version) — #8 UK / #5 IRL
* 1986 “My Boy Lollipop” (Jive) — #86 UK
* 1990 “Nellie The Elephant” (Mercury)
* 1993 “Independence” (Dome) — #11 UK / #21 IRL
* 1993 “I’m Back for More” (Dome) (with Bobby Womack) — #27 UK
* 1993 “Let Me Wake Up in Your Arms” (Dome) — #51 UK
* 1993 “Relight My Fire” (with Take That) (RCA) — “‘#1 UK”‘/ #2 IRL / #10 NL / #18 CH / #27 AT/ #33 AUS
* 1993 “How ‘Bout Us” (Dome) — #46 UK (cover of 1981 hit for the R&B group Champaign)
* 1994 “Goodbye Baby And Amen” (Dome) — #40 UK
* 1994 “Every Woman Knows” (Dome) — #44 UK
* 1999 “Hurt Me So Bad” (Rocket) — #42 UK
* 2000 “Better Get Ready” (Mercury) — #59 UK
* 2000 “Where The Poor Boys Dance” (Mercury) — #24 UK
* 2002 “Phunk Phoolin'” (Kerphunk Ft. Lulu)
* 2002 “We’ve Got Tonight” (with Ronan Keating) (Polydor) — #4 UK / #7 NL / #10 IRL / #12 AUS / #46 NZ
* 2005 “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” (Globe)
* 2007 “Run Rudolph, Run” (iTunes UK)
* Gonks Go Beat (1965)
* To Sir, with Love (1967)
* Cucumber Castle (1970)
* The Cherry Picker (1972)
* Alicja (1982) (voice)
* Men in Love (1989)
* Antonio’s Girlfriend (1992)
* To Sir, with Love II (1996)
* Whatever Happened to Harold Smith? (1999)