A smile spreads across her face as she considers the near-60 years that have passed since Shout. Lulu can’t quite believe it’s been that long. Was it really 1964 that she saw John Lennon and Paul McCartney tell the nation how much they loved her debut single on Ready Steady Go!
Cathy McGowan had turned to the two Beatles and asked them about their favourite new release. They both looked at each other and said: ‘We love Lulu’s Shout.’ In an instant, Lulu’s life changed.
“Can you imagine, 14 years of age and The Beatles are saying that my record’s their favourite. It was incredible.”
It was. But it simply foreshadowed a life that was to be filled with incredible moments. Frank Sinatra offered to coach her in vocal warm-ups, she recorded a Bond theme song with 1974’s The Man With The Golden Gun, she married a Bee Gee, the late Maurice Gibb, and worked with the irrepressible David Bowie. There was To Sir With Love, with Sidney Poitier, she had her own TV show, which featured a particularly unruly performance from Jimi Hendrix, and then there was an embarrassing encounter with Eric Clapton, which still causes her to blush all these years on.
The music didn’t stop. The girl who grew up in a tough, Glasgow environment, won the Eurovision song contest with Boom Bang-a-Bang, created an LBGT anthem with Independence, was propelled back into the charts with Take That and Relight My Fire and was awarded an OBE by Queen Elizabeth II.
From Strictly Come Dancing to The Commonwealth Games, from West End musicals to The Masked Singer, hers has been a life that has been filled with hits and remarkable work.
And now she’s heading to theatres around the UK where she’ll be able to talk about some of those experiences and sing some of her best-loved hits. A 70-date tour, called For The Record, will start on April 15 and run through spring until May 28. It will resume in October, concluding on November 12.
She’ll tell stories about her chart success in every decade since the 1960s, her number one hits on both sides of the Atlantic, Ivor Novello Awards, Grammy nominations and writing an international hit for Tina Turner.
“I can’t wait to get started,” she says. “This will be my first tour in six years and I’m raring to go.”
The only question will be how she fits so many stories into a 90-minute performance that features songs as well. “We’ve been working on this for a year now and we’ve got a few surprises for later in the year.
“I’ll tell you something that’s true. I’ve been performing now for more than 60 years – I was gigging in Glasgow as a girl, long before Shout. But in all those years, this is by far my most intimate show. I’ll be telling stories about parts of my life that I’ve never spoken about before, from the stage.
“And I’ll also be peppering the show with some of mine – and the audiences – favourite songs. It’s going to be a really special tour, with really special shows. We’ve put a lot of work into this. I am really looking forward to it.”
Her first memories of singing came long before Shout became a hit. Her dad had been a great singer and Lulu channelled that, in her own youthful way, which people loved. “I really felt his voice when he sang. Then I channelled it, in a way, and added my own youthful vibe, which people loved. I think I was really attuned to music because of my dad. From the minute I was born I was tuned into melody and sounds.”
She remembers the first time she ever sang in public, which was at the time of Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation. She sang a song called In A Golden Coach, when she was four, and when her father had lifted her high on his shoulders. Later, she’d sign at parties that her mother and father hosted. From there, it seemed perfectly natural to make a living from it. She joined local bands in Glasgow, before auditioning at EMI and Decca. Shout followed, when was 14, and her life was forever changed.
“Shout was released, it was the first single, and John Lennon and Paul McCartney jumped on it. They were on Ready, Steady, Go and they said it was their favourite release of that week. I was still living at home in Glasgow at the time. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. That was affirmation. I didn’t realise it then but I do now; those 1960s bands were all on the same path. I didn’t want to do some of the other stuff. I was judgemental for a time about Boom-Bang-A-Bang, but now I’m very grateful for that. I’m grateful for what it came to mean and for the fact that people love it.”
Her first manager, Marion Massey, helped to mentor her through the swinging sixties and they worked together for two decades. She became a movie star, starring in To Sir With Love, as her popularity rose on both sides of the Atlantic. She became part of the IT crowd, touring with The Beach Boys, partying with The Beatles, hanging out with household names whose popularity endures to this day. The men came and went, but there was always the music.
“I was at the centre of a revolution. If you’d have asked me at the time what I was feeling, I’d have said: ‘Oh, I don’t know, I don’t know what I’m feeling. I think I’m happy, but I don’t know.’ Now, I realise I went through all the feelings possible. I was a teenage girl with pictures of The Beatles on my wall then I got to meet them, do a couple of gigs with them, and hang out with them. It’s mind-blowing. It’s quite heady stuff.”
And now she’s getting ready to tell some of those stories – for the first time, in For The Record.
- Lulu will be performing at The Riverfront Theatre and Arts Centre on Saturday 29 April at 7.30pm. Tickets start from £37.50 but vary with the option of goody bags and meet and greets. To book tickets or find out more about the performance head to Newport Live | Events or call 01633 656757.