Early 1960sLulu was born 3 November 1948 and she grew up in Dennistoun, Glasgow, where she attended Thomson Street primary school and Onslow Drive Junior School. She lived in the Gallowgate for a while before moving to Garfield Street. At the age of 12-13, she and her manager approached a band called the Bellrocks asking if she could sing with them to get used to a live band and the stage. Alex Thomson (bass player of the Bellrocks) said even at that age her voice was unbelievable. She then went on to sing with them every Saturday night. They were asked to become her backing band, but at that time, playing was just a hobby and a bit of fun. Taken under the wing of Marion Massey, she became famous at the age of fifteen with her version of The Isley Brothers' "Shout", delivered in a raucous and extraordinarily mature voice. Her backing group was 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 Mark 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. All of Lulu's Decca recordings were made available in 2009 on a 2-CD entitled Shout!, issued on RPM Records.
She left Decca after failing to place any singles on the chart in 1966 and signed with Columbia to be produced by Mickie Most, who also hired Jimmy Page to play guitar on a few sessions. All of the seven singles she cut and released with Most made the UK Singles Chart. Despite this, Lulu was disparaging about 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, but "To Sir, with Love" sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. 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. Rumors 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 ContestOn 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: "Are You Ready For Love?", "March!", "Come September", "I Can't Go On Living Without You", "Boom Bang-a-Bang" and "Bet Yer!". "I Can't Go On..." was written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin who were introduced by Aspel as Elton Jones and Bernie Poppins. Their song came last in the postcard vote, but was later recorded by Cilla Black, Sandie Shaw, Polly Brown, 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 Sue and Sunny, 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.
"Boom Bang-a-Bang" was the winner - with three other songs. The entries from Spain, ("Vivo cantando" by Salomé), Netherlands, ("De Troubadour" by Lenny Kuhr) and France, ("Un jour, un enfant" by Frida Boccara) also finished in first place with 18 votes each. There had never been a tie 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 (now Eurovision: Your Country Needs You) contest, the qualifying heat for the Eurovision Song Contest, in which The Shadows performed six shortlisted songs. Lulu 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 would 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):
In 2009, Lulu provided comment and support to the six acts shortlisted to represent the UK at Eurovision 2009 on the BBC1 show Eurovision: Your Country Needs You hosted by Graham Norton.
Late 1960s - mid 1970s
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 which featured Adrienne Posta. 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. Lulu began 1970 by appearing on the BBC's highly rated review of the sixties music scene Pop Go The Sixties, performing "Boom Bang-A-Bang" live on the show broadcast on BBC1, December 31, 1969. She was one of the main artists invited to appear on the BBC's anniversary show Fifty Years Of Music in 1972. On December 31, 1976, Lulu performed "Shout" on BBC1's A Jubilee Of Music, celebrating British pop music for Queen Elizabeth II's impending Silver jubilee. In 1999, Lulu returned to BBC1 to host their Saturday night lottery/game show Red Alert.
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 Royal National Theatre's Guys and Dolls. She damaged her vocal cords while performing in the Webber show, requiring surgery that threatened her singing voice. She also made an appearance on the Morecambe and Wise Show in 1973, singing "All the Things You Are" and "Happy Heart".
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 affair at the time. 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.
Later careerLulu'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 Freemans 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 Records 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 charts 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. Early the following year, she had a more modest US hit with "If I Were You", which just missed the Top 40. Also in 1982, 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. These 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 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 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 boy band 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 & 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, and provisionally titled 'Where the Poor Boys Dance' was shelved due to 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.... The National Lottery Game Show "Red Alert" saw Lulu return to prime time BBC television but, despite an attempted revamp, the shows commission soon ceased.
Now officially known as Lulu Kennedy-Cairns, in 2000, she was awarded an OBE by Queen Elizabeth. 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 such as 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 Albums Chart at number 28. 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 20 March 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?"
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 and 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 QVC (UK), called "Time Bomb", and appeared on the 2007 Christmas television advertisement for Morrisons, the UK supermarket chain.
In November 2008, Lulu was announced as one of a number of Scottish celebrities that would 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 President of the USA: "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 yeah. Love Lu X". In both the 1979 and 1983 UK General Elections, Lulu had been a staunch and highly visible supporter of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the 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 anchor Stephen Jardine. She appeared between 27 and 31 July. The Scottish magazine programme airs weekdays at 5 pm. 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' concert performance alongside Chaka Khan and Anastacia. The trio promoted the concert series on UK TV, ahead of the first performance in November 2009, which took in 20 different dates.
In early 2010, Lulu performed the theme "The Word Is Love" to the movie Oy Vey! My Son Is Gay!!.
In tribute to Lulu's amazing career, the Scottish Town of Ullapool holds an annual music festival Loopallu (pronounced Loop A Lulu). Each September the small town welcomes people from all over the country to watch bands who were inspired by Lulu's Music.
- Gonks Go Beat (1965)
- To Sir, with Love (1967)
- Cucumber Castle (1970)
- The Cherry Picker (1972)
- Alicja (1982) (voice)
- To Sir, with Love II (1996)
- Whatever Happened to Harold Smith? (1999)