I was watching the 31 October 2017 edition of JEOPARDY! a few days later. There was a category in the second round called FILMS OF THE 1960s. The $1600 clue: “British pop singer Lulu had a small role in this 1967 film & also sang the title song.”

None of the contestants rang in, but then again, none of them appeared to have been born before 1970. Naturally, I knew, instantly, that it was To Sir With Love. At the time of the show’s airing, the song was in the midst of the 50th anniversary of its five-week run at #1 on the US Billboard charts. Interestingly. it also got to #9 on the US soul charts.

Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie was born 3 November 1948 in Glasgow, Scotland. Tony Gordon, who would eventually manage Culture Club, discovered the 14-year-old performer. Tony recommended to his sister, Marian Massey, that she should manage the singer.

It was Marian who came up with a new name for Marie. “She actually gave up, and then said, ‘I’ll tell you one thing, she’s a real lulu of a kid,'” Lulu explained.

Marian’s sister Felice tipped off Marian about the script for To Sir With Love. Director James Clavell saw Lulu perform at a Beach Boys concert, and she got the film role and got to sing the title song.

In June 1967, Epic Records released The Boat That I Row, a Neil Diamond song. The song from the film was relegated to the B side. American DJs flipped the record. But To Sir with Love never made the UK charts and it was never even nominated for an Oscar.

Lulu has been an active performer on TV in the UK for decades and was married to Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees from 1969 to 1973.

LISTEN to:

Shout – Lulu & the Luvvers, #7 UK, #94 US (1964); #96 on (1967 re-release)

The Boat That I Row, #6 in the UK, #115 in the US (1967)

To Sir With Love, the best-selling single of 1967 in the US

The Man Who Sold the World, produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson; the former wrote, played saxophone, provided back-up vocals. #3 UK (1974), Top 10 hit in several European countries, did not chart in US

I Could Never Miss You (More Than I Do), recorded in 1979, but not properly released as a single until 1981. #18 pop US, #2 US Adult Contemporary chart, only #62 UK

If I Were You, #44 US (1982)

Independence, #11 UK (1993)

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