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About Lulu (singer)
Lulu Kennedy-Cairns, OBE (born Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie
- Birth name Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie
- Also known as Lulu Kennedy-Cairns
- Born 3 November 1948 (age 68)
- Lennoxtown, East Dunbartonshire, Scotland
- Origin Glasgow, Scotland
- Pop pop rock blue-eyed soul
- Singer songwriter actress television personality businesswoman
- Instruments Vocals
- Years active 1964–present
- Decca Atco Music for Pleasure Mercury
- Associated acts
- The Luvvers David Bowie
- Lulu Official
Lulu Kennedy-Cairns, OBE (born Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie, 3 November 1948), better known by her stage name Lulu, is a Scottish singer-songwriter, actress, television personality and businesswoman who has been in the entertainment business since the 1960s and is known for her powerful singing voice. She is internationally known, especially by North American audiences, for the song "To Sir With Love" from the film of the same name and with the title song to the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun. In European countries, she is also widely known for her Eurovision Song Contest winning entry "Boom Bang-a-Bang", and in the UK for her 1964 hit "Shout", which was performed at the closing ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Life and career
Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie was born in Lennoxtown, East Dunbartonshire, and grew up in Dennistoun, Glasgow, where she attended Thomson Street Primary School and Onslow Drive School. She lived in Gallowgate for a while before moving to Garfield Street, Dennistoun. At the age of 12 or 13, she and her manager approached a band called the Bellrocks seeking stage experience as a singer. She appeared with them every Saturday night: Alex Thomson, the group's bass player, has reported that even then her voice was remarkable. She has two brothers and a sister, and her father was a heavy drinker. In August 2017, Lulu's family history was the subject of an episode in the UK series of Who Do You Think You Are? The research showed that her mother had been brought up by another family. The investigation into her genealogy showed that Lulu's maternal grandparents had come from across the religious divide in Glasgow. Her grandfather Hugh Cairns was a Catholic and her grandmother, Helen Kennedy was a Protestant. Cairns had been a member of a Catholic gang and was found in the research to have been in and out of prison at the time of the birth of Lulu's mother. Kennedy was found to be the daughter of a Worthy Mistress of the Ladies' Orange Lodge 52 and explained why the two families were against the union between Kennedy and Cairns.
Early chart hits
In 1964, under the wing of Marion Massey, she was signed to Decca Records, and when she was only fifteen, her version of the Isley Brothers' "Shout", credited to 'Lulu & the Luvvers' and delivered in a raucous but mature voice, reached the UK charts, where it peaked at #7. Massey guided her career for more than 25 years, for most of which time they were partners in business, and Massey's husband Mark produced some of Lulu's recordings. After the success of "Shout", Lulu's next three singles failed to make an impact on the charts. She released "Leave A Little Love" in 1965, which returned her to the UK Top Ten. Her next record, "Try to Understand" made the Top 30. In 1966, Lulu toured Poland with the Hollies, 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. All her Decca recordings were made available in 2009 on a 2-CD set entitled Shout!, issued on RPM Records. After two hit singles with the Luvvers, Lulu embarked on a solo career. After failing to reach the charts in 1966, Lulu left Decca and signed with Columbia, to be produced by Mickie Most. She returned to the UK singles chart in April 1967, reaching #6 with "The Boat That I Row", written by Neil Diamond. All seven singles she cut with Mickie Most made the UK Singles Chart. However, 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 Most died in 2003, Lulu was full of praise for him and told the BBC that they had been very close.
She made her acting debut in 1967 To Sir, with Love, a British vehicle for Sidney Poitier. Lulu both acted in the film and sang the title song, with which she had a major hit in the United States, reaching #1. "To Sir With Love" became the best-selling single of 1967 in the United States, selling well in excess of 1,000,000 copies; it was awarded a gold disc., and was ranked by Billboard magazine as the #1 song of the year. In the UK, "To Sir With Love" was released on the B-side of "Let's Pretend", a #11 hit.
In the late-1960s, Lulu's pop career in the UK thrived and she had several television series of her own. Her first BBC series aired in 1965 on BBC Two, where she co-hosted Gadzooks! It's The In-Crowd, with Alan David, completing the run as solo host under the rebranded Gadzooks! In 1966, she made regular appearances on BBC One's Stramash!. After appearing again on BBC Two in 1967 in a successful TV series that featured music and comedy, Three of a Kind, Lulu was given her own BBC One TV series in 1968, which ran annually until 1975 under various titles including Lulu's Back in Town, Happening For Lulu, It's Lulu and Lulu. The series often featured resident guests, including Adrienne Posta, Roger Kitter, Paul Greenwood and Pan's People, along with dance troupes choreographed by Nigel Lythgoe and Dougie Squires. The 1972 series was billed as It's Lulu... Not to mention Dudley Moore, with Dudley Moore and his trio appearing in each of the thirteen shows. Bernie Clifton was her resident guest for the last of the BBC series airing from January – April 1975. Her BBC series included music and comedy sketches and appearances by star guests.
One episode, from January 1969, is remembered for an unruly live appearance from The Jimi Hendrix Experience. During this appearance, after playing about two minutes of "Hey Joe", Hendrix stopped and announced, "We'd like to stop playing this rubbish and dedicate a song to Cream, regardless of what kind of group they may be in, dedicate to Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Jack Bruce." Hendrix and his band then broke into "Sunshine of Your Love". The studio director signalled for Hendrix to stop, but he continued. Hendrix was told he would never work at the BBC again, but was unrepentant. He told his girlfriend Kathy Etchingham, "I'm not going to sing with Lulu. I'd look ridiculous."
Concurrently with her TV series, Lulu also hosted several 'one-off' specials. These included Lulu At Bern's Restaurant in 1969; a show recorded in Sweden with the Young Generation;1970's The Young Generation Meet Lulu (also recorded in Sweden) and Bruce Forsyth Meets Lulu in 1975.
Eurovision Song Contest
On 29 March 1969, she represented the United Kingdom in the Eurovision Song Contest performing the song "Boom Bang-a-Bang", written by Peter Warne and Alan Moorhouse, the song chosen from a selection of six by viewers of her BBC1 variety series Happening for Lulu and on a special show hosted by Michael Aspel in which she performed all six one after another. One song, "I Can't Go On...", written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, came last in the postcard vote but was later recorded by Cilla Black, Sandie Shaw, Polly Brown and Elton John himself as well as by Lulu. In Madrid, Lulu was accompanied by Sue and Sunny while the orchestra was conducted by Lulu's musical director Johnny Harris. Lulu later recalled:
I had a series on TV, and Bill Cotton was the Head of [BBC] Light entertainment [at the BBC], 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..." But then it won. Somehow there was an intelligence working there... and it was a huge success.
"Boom Bang-a-Bang" won, though three other songs, from Spain, ("Vivo cantando" by Salomé), the Netherlands, ("De troubadour" by Lenny Kuhr) and France, ("Un jour, un enfant" by Frida Boccara) tied with her on 18 votes each. The rules were subsequently altered to prevent such ties in future years, but the result caused Austria, Portugal, Norway, Sweden and Finland not to enter the 1970 contest. Lulu's song came out the best in sales, with German, French, Spanish and Italian versions alongside the original English. Later she told John Peel; "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." Despite her dislike it is her second biggest UK hit to date, reaching No.2 on the chart in 1969. In 1975, Lulu herself hosted the BBC's A Song for Europe, the qualifying heat for the Eurovision Song Contest, in which the Shadows would perform six shortlisted songs. In 1981 she joined other Eurovision winners at a charity gala held in Norway and she was a panellist at the 1989 UK heat, offering views on two of the competing eight entries. In 2009, she provided comment and support to the six acts shortlisted to represent the UK at Eurovision 2009 on BBC1 TV.
Just weeks before her 1969 Eurovision appearance, Lulu had married 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 in 1973, but remained on good terms.
Late 60s and Muscle Shoals Recordings
From 30 June to 2 July 1967, Lulu appeared with The Monkees at the Empire Pool, Wembley, and her brief romance with Davy Jones of the Monkees during a concert tour of the USA in March 1968 received much publicity in the UK press. Lulu described her relationship with Jones as "He was a kind of boyfriend but it was very innocent – nothing untoward happened. It faded almost as soon as it had blossomed." In 1969, Lulu recorded New Routes, a new album, at Muscle Shoals studios: several of the songs, including a version of Jerry Jeff Walker's "Mr. Bojangles", featured slide guitarist Duane Allman. The album was recorded for Atlantic's Atco label and produced by Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd and Arif Mardin
Lulu began 1970 by appearing on the BBC's highly rated review of the 1960s music scene Pop Go the Sixties, performing "Boom Bang-A-Bang" live on BBC1, 31 December 1969. She recorded another Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd and Arif Mardin album in the USA, Melody Fair, and scored a US Top 30 hit, "Oh Me Oh My (I'm a Fool for You Baby)", (later covered by Aretha Franklin, Buster Poindexter, and John Holt) and collaborated with the Dixie Flyers on "Hum a Song (From Your Heart)"
Four more German language tracks, ("Ich brauche deine Liebe", "Wach' ich oder träum' ich", "Warum tu'st du mir weh", and "Traurig, aber wahr") were recorded on the Atlantic/WEA label.
She was one of the main artists invited to appear on the BBC's anniversary show Fifty Years Of Music in 1972. The same year she starred in the Christmas pantomime Peter Pan at the Opera House, Manchester and 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. She made an appearance on the Morecambe and Wise Show in 1973, singing "All the Things You Are" and "Happy Heart". Also in 1972, Lulu made a brief but memorable appearance (alongside Ringo Starr) on Monty Python's Flying Circus, where she and Starr fight with Michael Palin, in his "It's Man" character as a talk show host whose program goes awry.
On 27 May 1974, BBC1 screened Bruce Forsyth Meets Lulu a special variety TV show for the UK bank holiday. In 1974, she performed the title song for the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun. Two slightly different versions of the song were used, at the start and end respectively; James Bond was mentioned in the end version. Released as a single, it is the only Bond film title track not to chart as a single in either the United Kingdom or the United States.
The same year she covered David Bowie's songs "The Man Who Sold the World" and "Watch That Man".Bowie and Mick Ronson produced the recordings. Bowie played saxophone and provided back-up vocals and rumours of a brief affair were confirmed in her 2002 autobiography. "The Man Who Sold the World" became her first Top 10 hit in five years, peaking at #3 in the UK chart in February 1974 and was a Top 10 hit in several European countries. She had a reasonable hit in 1975, when she released the disco single "Take Your Mama For A Ride"; this peaked in the UK charts at #37, remaining in the Top 75 for four weeks.
On 31 December 1976 Lulu performed "Shout" on BBC One's A Jubilee of Music, celebrating British pop music for Queen Elizabeth II's impending Silver jubilee.
In 1977, Lulu became interested in Siddha Yoga and married hairdresser John Frieda. They divorced in 1991.They had one son, Jordan Frieda.
Lulu's chart success waned but she remained in the public eye, acting and hosting a long-running radio show on London's Capital Radio station. She was associated with Freemans fashion catalogue during the late-1970s and early-1980s. In August 1979 after a performance in Margate, Kent she was in a car accident that nearly killed her, colliding head-on with another car on Brooksend Hill and spent a week in hospital recovering. That same year, she recorded for Elton John's record label named The Rocket Record Company and seemed about to hit the charts again, with the lauded "I Love to Boogie", but despite critical acclaim and much airplay, it did not make the Top 75.
Notable London stage appearances came in the early-1980s in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Song and Dance and the Royal National Theatre's Guys and Dolls. She damaged her vocal cords while performing in the Lloyd Webber show, requiring surgery that threatened her singing voice. She co-hosted a revived series of Oh Boy! for ITV in the early 1980s. In 1981 she returned to the US charts with "I Could Never Miss You (More Than I Do)", a Top 20 hit that also reached #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart despite stalling at #62 in the UK. Early the following year she had a more modest US hit with "If I Were You", which just missed the Top 40, 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. These included "Shout," which reached the Top 10 in 1986 in the UK, securing her a spot on Top of the Pops. Lulu was one of only two performers (Cliff Richard being the other) to have sung on Top of the Pops 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, focusing instead on TV, acting and live performances. These tracks were released on the Jive Records 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 US. For a while, she held the record for number of hit record labels in the UK charts.
In 1985, she published her first book, Lulu – Her Autobiography. On television, she replaced Julie Walters as Adrian Mole's mother in The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole in 1987. In 1989–90 she voiced the title character in the animated series Nellie the Elephant on ITV.
In 1993, Lulu made a recording comeback with the single "Independence" which reached #11 in the UK Singles Chart. This was the title track from the Independence album; all four singles released from this album reached the UK charts, as did two later singles released in 1994. Her second single after "Independence" was "I'm Back for More", a duet with soul singer Bobby Womack, which charted at #27. Also in 1993, the song "I Don't Wanna Fight", co-written by Lulu with Billy Lawrie and Steve DuBerry, became an international hit for Tina Turner. Later that year she guested on the cover version of the Dan Hartman song "Relight My Fire", with boy band Take That. The single reached #1 on the UK Singles Chart and Lulu appeared as Take That's supporting act on their 1994 tour. At this time she also appeared as an unhappy public relations client of Edina Monsoon in two episodes of the BBC television programme Absolutely Fabulous and teamed with French & 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. An album, provisionally titled Where the Poor Boys Dance, was completed in late-1997 and due for release in early-1998 but was postponed by the record label Mercury. A single "Hurt Me So Bad" was released in April 1999, which rose no higher than #42 in the UK, and a year later the title track from the cancelled album reached #24, with an appearance on Top of the Pops to promote it.
In 1999, Lulu returned to BBC One to host their Saturday night National Lottery game show Red Alert and the theme song, sung by Lulu was released as a single, but it only managed to scrape the lower regions of the UK Top 75. She also 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....
Now known as Lulu Kennedy-Cairns (her late mother's birth name before she was adopted by the McDonald family), in 2000 she was awarded an OBE by Queen Elizabeth. Her autobiography, published in 2002, was titled I Don't Want to Fight after the hit song she and her brother wrote with hit songwriter Steve DuBerry for Tina Turner, a song that Lulu herself released in 2003 as part of her album The Greatest Hits. Her 2002 gold album Together was a collection of duets with Elton John and Paul McCartney among others, tracks from which were performed in a high-profile TV special for ITV, An Audience With Lulu, which saw Lulu reunited with her first husband Maurice Gibb for a live performance of "First of May".
In 2000, Lulu sat on the 5,387,862nd and final classic Mini that came off the production line, bringing to an end a chapter in British motoring history. In a ceremony at the Birmingham factory, Lulu drove a red Mini Cooper, registration 1959–2000, off of the track to music from The Italian Job, the 1969 film in which several Mini Coopers featured prominently.
In 2004, she released the album Back on Track and went on a UK-wide tour to celebrate forty years in the music business, the album charting at a low #68. In late-2004 she returned to radio as the host of a two-hour radio show on BBC Radio 2, playing an eclectic blend of music from the 1950s to the 2000s. In 2005, Lulu released A Little Soul in Your Heart, a collection of soul classics that entered the UK Albums Chart at #28. In March 2006, she launched her official MySpace profile. Lulu also appeared on the popular British comedy programme The Kumars at No. 42.
Lulu continued to act occasionally and starred alongside Tom Courtenay and Stephen Fry in the British film Whatever Happened to Harold Smith?. She also appeared in the BBC's reality TV show Just the Two of Us in 2006 as a judge, alongside Trevor Nelson, CeCe Sammy and Stewart Copeland. She was replaced by Tito Jackson for Series Two in 2007. In late-June and early-July 2006 appeared on Take That's tour of the UK & Ireland to perform their song "Relight My Fire". She appeared on American Idol Season 6 on 20 March 2007 as a mentor for the female contestants and the following night performed "To Sir With Love". Later in 2007 she appeared in the UK as a guest for Jools Holland in a series of concerts and features and on Holland's CD release "Best of Friends", performing "Where Have All the Good Guys Gone?"
Lulu's complete Atco recordings (made between 1969-1972) were released on 12 November 2007. The two-CD set included previously unreleased and demo versions of some of her recordings from this period. In December 2007 she 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 QVC, called "Time Bomb", and appeared on a 2007 Christmas television advert for Morrisons, a popular supermarket chain in the UK.
In February 2008, Lulu fans created an e-petition to get Lulu an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Brits. In November 2008, Lulu was announced as one of a number of Scottish celebrities to feature in the advertising campaign for Homecoming Scotland, a year-long event to encourage people around the world with Scottish heritage to return to Scotland. Also in November 2008, Lulu posted the following message on her website, celebrating the election of Barack Obama as 44th President of the United States: "Barack Obama Is In – Yippee, now we have got hope in the World. I’ve just turned 60, Obama is the new president of the USA and I think its going to be a fantastic year. Love Lu X". In the 1979, 1983 and 1987 UK general elections, Lulu was a supporter of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Party.
In January 2009, Lulu began a four-week stint as an advisor/coach on the BBC show Eurovision: Your Country Needs You, helping to choose the singer to represent the UK at the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest. In the summer of 2009, Lulu guest presented on STV's daily lifestyle show The Hour, alongside main presenter Stephen Jardine. She appeared between 27 and 31 July. The Scottish magazine programme airs weekdays at 5pm. As of 2009, she continues to pitch her range of "Lulu's" anti-ageing products and other cosmetics through the QVC (UK) home shopping channel, using her youthful appearance as a promotional tool. After appearing at an ABBA tribute concert in Hyde Park, London during September 2009, Lulu announced that she would be touring the UK in a Here Come the Girls alongside Chaka Khan and Anastacia. The trio promoted the concert series on UK TV, ahead of the first performance in November 2009, which took on twenty different dates.
In early 2010, Lulu performed the theme "The Word Is Love" to the film Oy Vey! My Son Is Gay!! and toured the UK a second time with Here Come the Girls alongside Anastacia and Heather Small. In November 2010 she hosted the BBC TV series Rewind the 60s. Each episode focused on a year during the 1960s highlighting the social and political issues of the decade as well as music and interviews with personalities from the decade. On 26 February 2011, Lulu appeared in the second heat in the third series of Let's Dance for Comic Relief. She danced to Soulja Boy's hit "Crank That". In May 2011, she made an appearance on the ITV2 programme, Celebrity Juice and, in July 2011, she performed at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.
In October and November 2011, Lulu took part in the BBC series Strictly Come Dancing. In August 2014, Lulu opened the closing ceremony of the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. On 11 February 2015, she appeared on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off in aid of Comic Relief, when she revealed that she had never before made a pastry.
On 1 April 2017, she appeared as a guest on All Round to Mrs. Brown's alongside Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield.
On 17 August 2017, she took part in the BBC's Who Do You Think You Are programme.