Lulu

  • Scottish singer-songwriter born Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie in 1948 from Lennoxtown, Stirlingshire Scotland. She grew up in Glasgow Scotland.
  • As a young girl, her talents as a vocalist were discovered early. At 12, she joined a band called The Bellrocks to gain experience as a singer. British talent manager Marion Massey discovered Lawrie at a discotheque in Glasgow at the age of 14, singing with a band called The Gleneagles. Massey changed Lawrie’s name to Lulu, and changed the band’s name to The Luvvers. Massey then signed Lulu and the Luvvers to a recording contract in 1964.
  • The band released their first single, a cover of the Isley Brothers’ Shout, when Lulu was 15 years old. It peaked at #7 on the UK charts. The debut album, Something To Shout About, included the song – the album only credited Lulu on the cover. The songs on the album were R&B/early rock & roll songs that complemented her mature, raspy voice. Nine more singles were released from 1964 to 1966 – Leave a Little Love managed to break into the top 10 in the UK, but nothing was very successful.
  • That changed in 1967 with the release of her second album, Love Loves To Love Lulu. The first single from the album was The Boat That I Row, which reached #6 in the UK, but did not break into the Hot 100 in the U.S. That same year, she made her acting debut in the film To Sir With Love, and she sang the title song from the film, which was included on her album. To Sir With Love became her only #1 hit in the U.S., selling over 1 million copies and becoming the best selling song of 1967 in the U.S. It is the only song ever by a British artist that reached #1 in the U.S., but did not chart in the UK, as it was on the B-side of the song Let’s Pretend in the UK. One other single from the album – Best of Both Worlds – managed to break into the top 40 in the U.S.
  • Her 1969 album Lulu’s Album contained covers of recent pop hits. The album did not chart, even in the UK. From 1970 to 1982, 7 more studio albums were released, which did not chart in the UK, and only 2 barely made it into the Billboard 200 album chart in the U.S. Still, a couple of songs managed to show up in the top 40 – Oh Me Oh My (I’m A Fool For You Baby) reached #22 in 1969 and I Could Never Miss You (More Than I Do) peaked at #18 in 1981. In 1974, she sang the title song to the James Bond movie The Man With the Golden Gun. 
  • After a long break from music, she released 1 album in the 90s, 3 albums in the 00s, and her most recent album, Making Life Rhyme, was released in 2015. Ten songs during this period charted in the UK. In 1993, Relight My Fire, a collaboration with the UK boy band Take That, hit #1 in the UK.
  • In the 60s and 70s, Lulu was wildly popular in the UK on television, hosting several TV series of her own, as well as variety show specials. In the 80s, she continued acting in stage performances and TV productions. She has published 2 autobiographies. She continues to perform live shows today, and occasionally is seen on TV reality shows in Europe.
  • Lulu is one of the 60s British female icons that helped define the music culture of the day, along with Cilla Black, Petula Clark (see my November 1 blog on Petula), Dusty Springfield and Marianne Faithful. Here’s her hit, To Sir With Love – she is 19 years old here.

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