She was just 15 when she released her hit Shout, now 70 she’s still enjoying a career that has outshone many of her contemporaries. Lulu talks to Peter Mann about her career, what drives her and the tour that brings her to The Apex this month
If you are a romantic there’s always a musician who transcends time and in the modern era that status goes to the iconic Lulu. . . with six decades in the music industry under her belt she’s earned that right.
Not long after a 37-date tour with evergreen boyband Take That – when she performed Relight My Fire with them – she’s now embarked on her own 35-date tour, aptly named On Fire.
At the age of 70, the singer, songwriter, actress, TV personality and businesswoman shows no signs of stopping. “Look at the Stones; look at Elton,” began Lulu.
“There’s your answer. If you’re passionate about music – and I am – why would you stop?”
Her career began in the Sixties when she enjoyed at the age of 15 hits with Shout (1965) and then Boom Bang-a-Bang (1969), the song which saw Lulu win that year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
“It [Shout] was a hard act to follow,” says Lulu. “I managed to keep myself afloat with some minor hits for the three years left of my contract with Decca, and then Mickie Most came into my life.
“He gave me hit after hit and, while some of them were pure pop songs, they consolidated my career.
“He was famous and rich and successful. Why would he listen to a 17-year-old?
“Anyway, with The Boat That I Row (1967), written by Neil Diamond no less, I was back in the area of music I liked best.”
Lulu is one of just five UK winners of the Eurovision Song Contest – the others being Sandie Shaw (1967), Brotherhood of Man (1976), Bucks Fizz (1981), and Katrina and the Waves (1997). The only difference for Lulu’s entry was it was the only tied contest (with France, Netherlands and Spain) in the competition’s 60-plus year history.
“I began to look down my nose at it (Boom Bang-a-Bang), and that was ungracious of me, I now realise,” she continued.
“I wouldn’t sing that song for over 30 years, but then I sang it at Gay Pride in Manchester at the end of August and thousands of people sang along with me.
“So I’m including it on the tour because I have to honour the fact that it was a famous moment in my career and the public obviously still loves it.
“And who am I to know better than them?
“If you’re the kind of artist who repeatedly says no to keep your integrity, then God bless you. But it’s not easy.”
The Scottish powerhouse has had a full and interesting life which has included singing the title track to the James Bond film The Man With The Golden Gun, marrying a Bee Gee and writing Tina Turner’s mega hit I Don’t Wanna Fight with her brother-in-law Billy Lawrie and Steve DuBerry, among other things.
Then there’s Take That. In 1993, the boy band covered Relight My Fire and asked Lulu to feature on it, something which a then 45-year-old songstress nearly rejected.
“I initially reacted with uncertainty. I was quite wrong, of course, because it brought me to a whole new audience.
“And Relight My Fire is a great song; I knew it from the 70s.”
Written and released in 1979, it topped the US dance music charts for six weeks.
And now, one of the UK’s national treasures, is back on the road to celebrate all that is Lulu.
“I’ve so enjoyed touring with my amazing band over the past few years that it didn’t take very long for me to get the urge to hit the road again.
“We’ll be playing here, there and everywhere, so I invite fans old and new to come along and share a great night covering my six decades in music.”
Lulu’s show at The Apex is not unsurprisingly sold out, but you can join a waiting list.
Lulu, Sunday, October 20, The Apex, Bury St Edmunds. Call 01284 758000 or visit theapex.co.uk
More by this authorPeter Mann