Lulu-To Lulu With Love
by Jay S. Jacobs
It’s almost impossible to believe that in a music career which has lasted about 50 years, with multiple hit singles, several TV series and a good amount of movie work, that Lulu has never played a full concert in New York City.
That will all change this week when Lulu fronts an all-star band of TV musicians – including Paul Shaffer, Jimmy Vivino, Will Lee and Rich Pagano – to play a highly anticipated gig on Saturday, February 16 at BB King’s on 42nd Street, right in the midst of the Times Square area.
That’s a long way from her beginnings, as a young Glasgow-born soul singer whose given name is Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie who had her first hit at fifteen-years old with a cover of The Isley Brothers’ “Shout” as the leader of Lulu and the Luvvers.
Lulu continued having hit after hit in her native England and became a star in the States when she acted in and sang the title track to the Sidney Poitier film To Sir With Love. Lulu has been recording and acting ever since, having big hits like “Oh Me Oh My (I’m A Fool For You Baby)” and “I Could Never Miss You (More Than I Do),” writing Tina Turner’s smash hit “I Don’t Want To Fight” and recording duets with superstars such as Paul McCartney, Elton John, Sting and Take That, with whom she topped the European charts with “Relight My Fire.”
The day after Lulu arrived in the US to prepare for her long-overdue New York debut, she gave us a call to talk about the show and her storied career.
How is it possible that this is your first New York show?
I ask myself the same question. How is it possible? When really, my history from a child [is that] my roots are so steeped in American music. Not British music. In fact, my guitarist Alan Darby is also Scottish, from just outside Glasgow. He played with Clapton. He’s that kind of guitarist. A really great blues, rock and roll guitarist. Like me – maybe it’s the Scots – he didn’t care for British music until The Beatles. Of course, The Beatles were influenced by the same music that we liked. If you like BB King or I used to listen to Sister Rosetta Tharpe, as well as appreciating what Bobby Darin could do with a song. He could turn it from a pop song into something bluesy and gospel. Then you have even little Brenda Lee. It’s like going to church.
How cool is it that you used to listen to BB King and now you are playing at his club?
Well, of course, his name is on my mind. But, his version of “The Thrill Is Gone” has always been one of my top ten favorites. Ray Charles was number one on my list.
To read the rest of the interview, click here.