Elkie Brooks

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Elkie Brooks
ElkieBrooks06.JPG
Background information
Birth nameElaine Bookbinder
Born(1945-02-25) 25 February 1945 (age 69)[1]
OriginBroughton, Lancashire, England
GenresPop, rock,blues, jazz
OccupationsSinger
InstrumentsVocals, piano, keyboards
Years active1960–present
Associated actsVinegar Joe, Robert Palmer, Humphrey Lyttelton, Wet Willie, Cat Stevens, Chris Farlowe
Websiteelkiebrooks.net
 
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Elkie Brooks
ElkieBrooks06.JPG
Background information
Birth nameElaine Bookbinder
Born(1945-02-25) 25 February 1945 (age 69)[1]
OriginBroughton, Lancashire, England
GenresPop, rock,blues, jazz
OccupationsSinger
InstrumentsVocals, piano, keyboards
Years active1960–present
Associated actsVinegar Joe, Robert Palmer, Humphrey Lyttelton, Wet Willie, Cat Stevens, Chris Farlowe
Websiteelkiebrooks.net

Elkie Brooks (born Elaine Bookbinder; 25 February 1945)[2] is an English singer, a vocalist with Vinegar Joe, and later a solo artist. She gained her biggest success in the late 1970s and 1980s and has been nominated twice for Brit Awards. She is known for her powerful husky voice and hit singles such as "Pearl's a Singer", "Lilac Wine", "Don't Cry Out Loud", "Fool (If You Think It's Over)", and "No More the Fool", and top-selling album Pearls. She is generally referred to as the "British Queen of Blues".[3][4] By April 2012, Brooks had released more albums that had reached the top 75 of the UK album chart than any other British female artist.[5]

Life and career[edit]

Early career and Vinegar Joe[edit]

Brooks was born Elaine Bookbinder in Broughton, Salford, the daughter of Marjorie Violet "Vi" (née Newton) and Kalmon Charles "Charlie" Bookbinder. Her paternal grandparents and great-grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Kielce, Russian Poland. Her mother, who had been born to a Catholic family, converted to Judaism.[6] She was raised in Prestwich. She attended North Salford Secondary Modern School.[1]

Her older brother is Anthony Bookbinder (born 28 May 1943), who went by the stage name of Tony Mansfield, and was drummer for Billy J. Kramer with The Dakotas, on their run of 1960s hit records.

According to Brooks, her unofficial debut was a gig at a club called the "Laronde" on Cheetham Hill Road, Manchester, when she was 13 years old. She first sang professionally at the age of 15, and her first record, a cover of Etta James's "Something's Got a Hold on Me", was released on Decca in 1964. Brooks spent most of the 1960s on Britain's cabaret scene, a period of her life that she did not particularly enjoy.[7] In the mid 1960s she supported The Beatles in their Christmas show in London, then, as an established act, helped the Small Faces in their early career by introducing them at several venues.[1] She went on to tour the United States with several bands, including The Animals.

After she met Pete Gage, whom she would marry, she joined the short-lived fusioneers Dada before forming Vinegar Joe with Gage and Robert Palmer. Brooks gained the reputation as the wild woman of rock 'n' roll due to her wild stage performances.[8] After three albums, they split up in 1974, and Brooks and Palmer formed separate solo careers. After a time as backing singer with the American southern boogie band Wet Willie, she returned to England.[1]

Solo career and chart success[edit]

Her first solo album on A&M records was Rich Man's Woman (1975). It was released to critical acclaim, but Brooks was given a hard time due to the album's cover, which was considered outrageous for the time.

It came before a run of 16 hit albums in 25 years, starting with Two Days Away (1977), produced by the songwriting duo Leiber & Stoller, who had also worked with Elvis Presley and many others. Brooks also wrote some tracks with them. The hits "Pearl's a Singer" and "Sunshine After the Rain" came from this album. The albums Shooting Star (1978) and Live and Learn (1979) also saw success along with the singles "Lilac Wine" and "Don't Cry Out Loud".[9] However, her polished, powerful cover of Gallagher and Lyle's "The Runaway", with the Scottish singer-songwriters themselves on backing vocals, was only a minor chart entry.

In 1980 Brooks performed at the Knebworth Festival with The Beach Boys, Santana and Mike Oldfield.[10] Pearls, released in 1981 achieved the biggest success of her career, becoming the largest selling album by a British female artist up to this point in the UK. "Fool (If You Think It's Over)" was a hit for Brooks taken from this album, written by Chris Rea. Pearls II (1982), Minutes (1984) and Screen Gems (1984), were all UK chart hits.[9]

In 1986 she sang the title song for the BBC television series "A Very Peculiar Practice". The song, written by Dave Greenslade, was never released as a commercial recording.

In early 1987 the song "No More the Fool" became her biggest hit single to date while the parent album reached the top five. This led to her achieving a career peak, as she had two albums and a single in the top ten all on the same week.[11][12] Following chart success ensued with the albums The Very Best of Elkie Brooks (1986), Bookbinder's Kid (1988), Inspiration (1989), Round Midnight (1993), Nothin' but the Blues (1994), Amazing (1996) and The Very Best of Elkie Brooks (1997).[9]

Since 2000[edit]

In March 2003, she participated in the ITV music talent show Reborn in the USA, alongside musicians such as Peter Cox, Tony Hadley and Leee John. Also in 2003 she issued a CD, Trouble in Mind, accompanied by Humphrey Lyttelton and his Band, which included Bad Penny Blues with added lyrics. The Electric Lady album (2005) saw a return to her blues and rock roots, featuring self-penned tracks alongside re-workings of numbers by The Doors, Bob Dylan, Paul Rodgers and Tony Joe White. The following year saw the release of her first official DVD, Elkie Brooks & Friends: Pearls, featuring an array of guest musicians.

Brooks has toured almost every year during her solo career. Her 1982 UK concert tour was seen by more than 140,000 people in just three months. She has performed at every major UK theatre, including sellout runs at the London Palladium, Dominion Theatre, Hammersmith Apollo, Ronnie Scott's, Royal Albert Hall and Wembley Arena. Brooks was offered "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" but turned it down. It was subsequently recorded by Julie Covington and others. Brooks also turned down the song "The Flame"; it was then recorded by Cheap Trick.

Brooks' twentieth studio album, Powerless, was released in 2010, featuring songs such as Prince's "Purple Rain" and Dylan's "Make You Feel My Love". She continues to perform live throughout the UK and Ireland.[13] In 2012, Brooks released her autobiography Finding My Voice, published by The Robson Press. In it she details her life and career, focussing on her love of performing live and the downsides of the recording business, which has often left her financially no better off.[14]

Personal life[edit]

In the early to mid-1970s, Brooks was married to guitarist Pete Gage. On 1 March 1978, she married her sound engineer, Trevor Jordan. They are still married and live in Devon and have two sons, Jermaine (born 22 December 1979) and Joseph (born 31 December 1986). Between 1981 and 2002 they lived in a mansion in a secluded area of North Devon. However in 1998, after her accountant informed her that he hadn't been paying her taxes, Brooks found herself in severe debt and was reduced to living in a mobile home. After four years of increasing interest bills and loans, Brooks managed to sell her home (after being threatened with repossession) and cleared all of her debts.[15] Today, all the family (including Jermaine's wife Joanna) are involved in Brooks' career, songwriting, and touring.[16]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

YearAlbumUK #[17]Label
1975Rich Man's Woman-A&M
1977Two Days Away16
1978Shooting Star20
1979Live and Learn34
1981Pearls2
1982Pearls II5
1984Minutes35
Screen Gems35
1986No More the Fool5Legend
1988Bookbinder's Kid57
1989Inspiration58Telstar
1991Pearls III-Freestyle
1993Round Midnight27Castle
1994Nothin' but the Blues58
1995Circles-Permanent
1996Amazing49Carlton Classics
2003Shangri-La-Classic Pictures
Trouble in Mind (with Humphrey Lyttelton)-
2005Electric Lady-Swing Cafe
2010Powerless-Eventful Music Productions

Live albums[edit]

YearAlbumLabel
1997The Pearls ConcertArtful
2005Don't Cry Out LoudRecall

Compilations[edit]

YearAlbumUK #[17]Label
1986The Very Best of Elkie Brooks10Telstar
1997The Very Best of Elkie Brooks23Polygram
2007The Silver Collection45Spectrum

Singles[edit]

YearSingleChart PositionsAlbumLabel
UK[17]AU
1964"Something's Got a Hold on Me"--Non-album singleDecca
"Nothing Left to Do but Cry"--
1965"The Way You Do the Things You Do"--
"He's Gotta Love Me"--HMV
"All of My Life"--
1966"Baby Let Me Love You"--
1969"Come September"--NEMS
1974"Rescue Me"--Island
1975"Where Do We Go From Here"--Rich Man's WomanA&M
"He's a Rebel"--
1977"Pearl's a Singer"865Two Days Away
"Saved"--
"Sunshine After the Rain"10100
"Do Right Woman, Do Right Man"--
1978"Lilac Wine"16-non-album single
"Only Love Can Break Your Heart"43-Shooting Star
"Since You Went Away"--
"Stay with Me" (Netherlands only)--
"Don't Cry Out Loud"12-non-album single
1979"The Runaway"50-
"He Could Have Been an Army"--Live and Learn
"Falling Star"--
1980"Why Don't You Say It"--non-album single
"Paint Your Pretty Picture"--Pearls
"Dance Away"--
1981"Warm and Tender Love"--
"Fool (If You Think It's Over)"17-
1982"Our Love"43-Pearls II
"Nights in White Satin"33-
"Will You Write Me a Song"--
1983"Gasoline Alley"52-
"I Just Can't Go On"--
1984"Minutes"--Minutes
"Driftin'"--
"Once in a While"--Screen GemsA&M/EMI
1986"No More the Fool"5-No More the FoolLegend
1987"Break the Chain"55-
"We've Got Tonight"69-
1988"Sail On"--Bookbinders Kid
1989"Shame"--InspirationTelstar
"You're the Inspiration" (Belgium only)--
1990"I'll Never Love This Way Again"--
"For the World" (withdrawn before release)--non-album singleEuropean Artists
1991"The Last Teardrop"--Pearls III (Close to the Edge)Freestyle
"One of a Kind" (Belgium only)--
1999"Too Much To Lose" (with Courtney Pine)181[18]-Unfinished Business (unreleased)BMG
2005"Out of the Rain"--Electric LadySwing Cafe
2010"Powerless"--PowerlessEventful Music Productions

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Search general register office (GRO)birth records 1761–2006 | Fully indexed birth records". Findmypast.co.uk. Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  2. ^ Bryan Burnett (30 November 2011). "Music – Elkie Brooks". BBC. Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  3. ^ Hunt, Keith (6 September 2013). "Elkie's star is still shining". Kent Online. Retrieved 19 November 2013. 
  4. ^ "Elkie Brooks cancels Huddersfield concert after losing voice". News report. Examiner.com. Retrieved 19 November 2013. 
  5. ^ "Pearl's A Singer, but Elkie Brooks is a farmer, hang glider pilot and black belt too". Guardian Series. 11 April 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  6. ^ "Jewish Telegraph Online – Arts & Entertainment". Jewishtelegraph.com. 25 February 1945. Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  7. ^ Interview on Woman's Hour, BBC Radio 4, Wednesday, 31 March 2010.
  8. ^ Robin Denselow (9 September 2005). "Elkie Brooks, Cabot Hall, London | Music". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c "The Official Charts Company – Elkie Brooks". The Official Charts Company. 5 May 2013. 
  10. ^ "Rock Concerts". Knebworth House. 20 July 1974. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  11. ^ "The Official Charts Company – Charts for 6 May 2013". The Official Charts Company. 6 May 2013. 
  12. ^ "The Official Charts Company – Charts for 6 May 2013". The Official Charts Company. 6 May 2013. 
  13. ^ Gore, Will (12 July 2010). "Elkie to make a splash at Pools". Wimbledon Guardian. Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  14. ^ North Devon Journal, Elkie Brooks autobiography signing at Waterstones. 30 August 2012
  15. ^ Finding My Voice, Elkie Brooks autobiography. The Robson Press, 2012
  16. ^ "The Official Site – Biography". Elkie Brooks. Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  17. ^ a b c Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 79. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  18. ^ "Chart Log UK: Darren B – David Byrne". Zobbel.de. Retrieved 17 February 2013. 

External links[edit]