To Sir with Love
Scottish singer-songwriter, actress and TV personality Lulu, born Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie, began her career in the club circuit with her backup band “The Luvvers.” She was launched to prominence at age 15 thanks largely to the British smash hit “Shout” (1964, #7), which was originally made famous by the Isley Brothers. One of the highest-selling British female singers of the 1960s, she continued to achieve international success, especially in America, with the theme song “To Sir With Love” (1967), which was taken from the movie directed by James Clavell where she also had the supporting role of Barbara Pegg. The track rose to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Lulu also became one of the winners at the 1968 Eurovision Song Contest with “Boom Bang-a-Bang,” a No. 2 hit on the U.K. chart.
During the next two decades, however, Lulu became more interested in building her career as an all-round entertainer. Apart from the Top 3 hit “The Man Who Sold the World” (1973), produced by David Bowie, and a disco re-recording of “Shout” (1986), which peaked at No. 8 in the U.K., she was probably best recalled for her self-titled BBC television series “Lulu's Back In Town” (1968), “Happening For Lulu”(1969), “It's Lulu” (1970-1973) and “Lulu” (1975). She did not make a triumphant return to music until 1993 when she topped the British charts as a guest performer on the Take That's cover version of Dan Hartman's “Relight My Fire.” At the time, Lulu was 45 years old. The same year she also released “Independence,” her new album since 1984's “Shape and Dance With Lulu.”
A strong presence in film, Lulu won a 2001 Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival Award for her supporting role opposite Tom Courtenay and Stephen Fry in the British hit comedy “Whatever Happened to Harold Smith?” (1999). Her more recent recording credits include “Together” (2002), “Back on Track” (2004) and “A Little Soul in Your Heart” (2005).
In June 2000, Lulu was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) for her contribution to show business.
On a more personal note, Lulu is a two-time divorcee. She has a 31-year-old son, Jordan Frieda (actor), with second husband John Frieda and she and Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees fame had a short-lived marriage during the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Maurice Gibb's Ex
Childhood and Family:
Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie, professionally known as Lulu, was born on November 3, 1948, in Glasgow, Scotland, to a local butcher. She is the eldest of four children, and attended Whitehill Senior Secondary School in Glasgow.
Lulu has been married twice. She married first husband Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees on February 18, 1969, but the bond only lasted for four years and they divorced in 1973. Two years later, Lulu married celebrity hairdresser John Frieda in 1975. She gave birth to a baby boy named Jordan Frieda on June 17, 1977. Lulu divorced her second husband in 1995.
Lulu made her first public appearance at age 4 when she performed at a Coronation Party. As a teenager, she toured northern clubs with her backup band The Gleneagles, which later changed its name to the Luvvers. She was later discovered by future mentor and manager Marion Massey.
After signing a management deal with Massey, Lulu and her band flew to London where they signed with Decca Records. In 1964, they released “Shout,” a popular song originally recorded by The Isley Brothers in the late 1950s. The single was a smash hit and soared to No. 7 on the British Singles Chart.
Along with her group, Lulu went on to produce British hits during 1964/1965 such as the classics “Here Comes The Night” (# 50), “Leave A Little Love” (#8) and “Try To Understand” (#25), which were included in the debut album “Something to Shout About” (1965). Her rising status was further confirmed with a series of top television and radio performances and hectic touring gigs throughout the country. By the end of 1965, the 17-year-old girl was named Melody Maker's “The Most Promising Newcomer in Show Business” in the United Kingdom. It was also in1965 that Lulu decided to leave her group to become a solo artist.
The newly heralded singing star scored a banner year in 1966. She joined the British rock and roll band The Hollies to tour Poland, a notable assignment that made her the first British female ever to perform live behind the Iron Curtain, and followed it up with an extensive British tour with The Walker Brothers and Roy Orbison. In addition, she signed a new deal with Columbia Records and began her fruitful partnership with producer Mickie Most. She rounded out the year with a noteworthy starring performance in “Babes In The Wood” at the Wimbledon Theatre.
Lulu's career gained a further boost the following year when she was hired to play the supporting role of nervy Barbara Pegg on the James Clavell-directed drama “To Sir With Love,” starring Sidney Poitier. The movie was a massive success in America. In addition to acting, Lulu also sang the theme song, which became a No. 1 hit on Billboard's Hot 100 and stayed in the position for five consecutive weeks. Unfortunately in the U.K., the song, which was co-written by Don Black and Massey's husband Mark London, was released on the B-side of the Top 11 hit “Let's Pretend.”
Lulu also enjoyed two more hit singles in 1967 with the songs “The Boat That I Row” (#6 UK) and “Love Loves To Love Love” (#32 UK). She also became a regular player on the BBC comedy series “Three of a Kind.” 1968 saw Lulu participate in the Eurovision Song Contest with the song “Boom Bang-a-Bang,” which ended up being one of the four winners in the competition and became Lulu's highest-charted single in Britain when it was released the following year. She also dotted the U.K. chart with such singles as “Me, The Peaceful Heart” (#9), “Boy” (#15) and “I'm A Tiger” (#9) and following the success of “Three of a Kind,” the multi-faceted entertainer was given her own television series, “Lulu's Back In Town” (BBC), which she later followed with “Happening For Lulu”(1969), “It's Lulu” (1970-1973) and “Lulu” (1975).
Lulu produced no more major hits until she joined forces with producer David Bowie for the song “The Man Who Sold the World,” which was released under Polydor and peaked at No. 3 in the U.K. The same year, she also sang the theme song “The Man with the Golden Gun” for the James Bond movie of the same name, which starred Roger Moore as 007.
During the remainder of the 1970s and the 1980s, Lulu's music career again experienced a set back. Although she managed to release such albums as “Heaven and Earth and the Stars” (1976), “The Very Best of Lulu” (1980), “Take Me to Your Heart Again” (1981) and “Shape and Dance With Lulu” (1984), she was more well-known for her stage work and television performances. She was seen co-hosting a revived series of ITV's “Oh Boy” and playing the role of Pauline Mole on the short-lived comedy series “The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole” (1987). Lulu made a brief return to the U.K. charts in 1986 thanks to a disco re-recording of “Shout.”
In the early 1990s, Lulu acted in the AIDS-themed motion picture “Men in Love” (1990), directed by Marc Huestis, and the French film “Antonio's Girlfriend” (1992), written and helmed by Manuel Poirier. She also guest starred in a 1990 episode of the British sitcom “Perfect Scoundrels.” Back to music, she launched an album in 1993 called “Independence” and the follow-up single “I'm Back For More.” She also released the song “I Don't Wanna Fight,” which she co-penned with her brother and was performed by Tina Turner for the soundtrack of the film “What's Love Got to Do with It.”
Her next studio album, “Absolutely Lulu,” followed in 1997. Two years later, she rejoined BBC to co-host their Saturday night lottery/game show “Red Alert,” which was considered a turkey and soon left the air, and costarred with Tom Courtenay and Stephen Fry in the independent film “Whatever Happened to Harold Smith,” from which she was handed a Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival for Best Supporting Actress. The same year, she also contributed to the soundtrack of the Elton John/Tim Rice’s musical “Aida.”
After five years away from her recording studio, Lulu released the album “Together” (2002), featuring various artists like Elton John, Cliff Richard, Paul McCartney, Sting and Ronan Keating. She also published a well-received autobiography, “I Don't Want To Fight,” that same year. She then released the “The Greatest Hits” album in 2003, “Back on Track” in 2004 and “A Little Soul in Your Heart” in 2005. The latter debuted at No. 28 on the U.K. chart.
In 2007, Lulu appeared on two episodes of the Fox hit show “American Idol,” where she became a mentor for the female contestants and also performed her American hit, “To Sir, With Love.”
Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival: Jury Award, Best Supporting Actress, “Whatever Happened to Harold Smith?” 2001