Scottish singer Lulu was one of Britain’s biggest stars. She also had a few hits in Germany and recorded several singles in German in the 1960s and 70s.
She was born Marie Lawrie on 3 November 1948 in Glasgow, Scotland’s second city. She began singing at a young age and – together with backing group the Gleneagles – was offered a recording contract with the Decca label, after being spotted singing in a local nightclub. She was given the stage name of Lulu and the group became the Luvvers. (She and the group parted company in 1965.)
At home in the UK, she is best known for her debut release, Shout, a cover of the Isley Brothers’ US hit. She didn’t issue it in Germany, though German singer Peggy Peters – who is better known as a singer in the Beatles tribute band Die Sweetles and in her 1970s incarnation as Tina Rainford – recorded a raucous German approximation of the song, Aus, which flopped.
Lulu’s first German-language release was 1966’s Wenn du da bist, issued on the Decca label. It came at a time when her chart career was in something of a slump at home. However, it didn’t catch the attention of German record buyers. Interestingly, both the A- and B-side, So fing es an, were also recorded by German singer Marion.
Lulu had to wait another three years before she charted in Germany, with I’m a tiger, arguably one of her worst singles of the period (she hated it too). It made number four in Germany in early 1969.
Against this background, the singer represented the UK in the Eurovision song contest that spring with Boom bang-a-bang, tying for first place with three other girl singers, Spain’s Salomé, France’s Frida Boccara and the Netherlands’ Lenny Kuhr. (Siw Malmkvist performed Germany’s entry, Primaballerina, that year.) Lulu was the only one of the winners to enjoy a German hit with her song. It made number eight in Germany and number three in Switzerland, and was a hit throughout Europe.
Hoping to ape Sandie Shaw, who had won the contest two years before and enjoyed hits with both the original Puppet on a string and a German version of the song, Lulu released Boom bang-a-bang in German. However, it failed to chart.
The song was also covered in German by German singer Heidi Brühl and by American singer Peggy March, who was enjoying great success in Germany at the time singing in German. Are you ready for love, one of the other songs that Lulu had performed in the UK final to choose her Eurovision entry and which finished fifth out of six, was released by German singer Mary Roos as Ich bin glücklich, without success.
Lulu released two further German-language singles, Warum tust du mir weh and Ich brauche deine Liebe, both produced by Giorgio Moroder in 1971. Neither charted. (Once again, German singer Marion – by now known as Marion Maerz – provided a cover version, this time of the Dusty Springfield-esque Wach’ ich oder träum’ ich, the B-side of the second of the two singles.)
She went on to score a top 20 hit in Germany with 1974’s The man who sold the world and, nearly 20 years later, with Take That on Relight my fire.
With thanks to Jens Keller for additional sound files.