The legend that is Lulu

The legend that is Lulu
Interview
Posted on 3 Aug 2017

How do you keep your shows exciting for you and the audience? 

First of all, I’ve only been with this band for around four years, and that’s helped shake things up. They’re all younger than me, so there's a young energy, which I love. The great thing is that these guys are influenced by the same music that I was - and still am - but they have a new slant.

Where does your energy come from?

I guess I was blessed with a lot of energy, and I think if you’re healthy you have a lot of energy. Some people love it, but some would prefer you to shut up and sit down. It's all about how you use your energy for the positive. And as you get older, it’s about pacing your energy - and for that, I do meditation and Chi Gong.

What was the first concert you ever performed at?

It was in a theatre or small hall, and I was very, very young. I sang Smoke Gets In Your Eyes and forgot the words. I just repeated the first verse and wanted to die, but nobody mentioned it afterwards. I thought it was the worst thing I’d done in my whole life. I was probably about six! I remember that I had a sticky-out frock, and I think I was so pleased with myself that the excitement affected my memory!

What was the first concert you went to?

I remember going to a really dirty club to see Alex Harvey (Shout) when I was just about 13. I don't know if that was my first show. I wasn’t allowed to go to those places because I was so young, but my mother wangled it so I could go. I used to sing in a band at the weekends, so the boys in the band had to look after me. Alex came backstage dressed in black leather, with jet-black hair, and sang Shout. It was the first time I’d ever heard it, and I went out the next day and bought the record by The Isley Brothers. The rest is history.

In 1966, you were one of the first female artists ever to play an Eastern bloc country. What was the experience like, considering you were only 17 or 18?

I was with The Hollies and it was scary. It was cold, the place was very rundown and there were bullet marks on buildings. There was debris and a lot of poverty. It was also memorable because when we did the concerts, there were guards everywhere, watching the audience to make sure they didn't stand up or get excited. When they started to get excited, the guards slapped them down.

If someone had told your 15-year-old self that you had this life ahead of you, what would you have thought?

I would’ve said, ‘Are you having a laugh?’ because I’ve had such an amazing life! How could a 15-year-old have predicted the way my life was going unfold? It’s been a rollercoaster. I thought I was going to be a singing hairdresser who never left Glasgow!

Anything else you wish you’d known at the beginning of your career?

I wish I’d known I could write songs. 

In your experience, what gets easier as you get older?

Most things become easier because I live from a position of having gratitude. I've become philosophical, and as tough as it is for me not to knee-jerk into a negative place when things go wrong, I always have a way of getting back and looking at acceptance of what is and what I can't change. It doesn’t happen in a flash. It’s a process, and I now have the support and the tools to process.

And what gets tougher?

Maintenance. It’s a bitch! There's a big piece of acceptance in growing older. I look at myself and go, 'Oh my God!’. You never really thought this would happen. When you have success at a young age - the pop star sort of thing - you think you’re invincible, so it’s a shock to see that you’re not.

If you, Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger went on stage together, who do you think would be the last one standing?

I think that would be very difficult because you hear endless praise about Jagger doing his amazing run at the end of every gig The Stones play, and I don't see Macca giving up any time soon, so that would be a very tough race.

What makes you really proud?

At the weekend, I was with my son and my grandchildren. We were making birthday cards and a poster for their mum, who was about to return from a few days away with her girlfriends. It was such a sweet moment, and I sat back and thought, ‘Wow, didn’t Jordon do well, and I get to share it!’. That was a proud moment. 

If a film were to be made about your life, who would you like to have play you?

Jennifer Lawrence.

Do you think today’s young female bands and artists are under too much pressure to look good?

Yes! Now it's ‘world domination or nothing’, and that’s tremendous pressure. And you'll be dropped like a hot potato if you don't sell a certain amount of records. 

What are your ‘must haves’ in the makeup bag?

Good skin care. Thank God for TimeBomb. Before you put anything on your skin, it has to be in the best condition it can be. You have to make sure you’re hydrated internally and externally and make sure you get lots of sleep so your face looks like it's alive instead of dead. You've got to - as opposed to a young person, where it doesn't really matter because they always look gorgeous. I have to have the right stuff underneath: good foundation, the right blusher and lots of eyelashes - and my favourite thing is to try and get the J-Lo lips! Really, for me, she just kills it. That's what I try to do, those luscious lips! Everything is off before I go to bed.

Who’s given you the best advice about your voice?

I met Frank Sinatra in Las Vegas, and he asked if I made it a habit to warm up my voice, and if I did vocal exercises before a show, which I didn't back then. I was there with Maurice (Gibb), and Frank offered to teach me, but I never followed it up because I was too shy. And then of course I went off and hurt my voice, so now I’m religious about looking after it. So yes, Frank, I eventually took your advice!

Is there anyone you'd still like to work with or duet with?

Bruno Mars, Calvin Harris - and I'd love to do something with Steven Tyler from Aerosmith. And so many more!

Lulu plays Solihull Summer Fest on Saturday 26 August. Other artists performing over the weekend include Peter Andre, Feeder, The Pigeon Detectives and The Wonder Stuff. For more details visit solihullsummerfest.co.uk.

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