Lulu - 'Friends are my lifeline'

Lulu - 'Friends are my lifeline'

She has enjoyed huge success as a singer in a career that has spanned more than 50 years. But looking back Lulu is the first to admit there have been many challenges. “Believe me, it is not always easy. I have enjoyed such unbelievable success but then, I have also had really awful relationship disappointments and horrible crashes in my career – it has been an amazing roller coaster. But I have learnt that you need the bad times to appreciate the good ones. I still have disappointments but I handle them differently and all my experiences have made me who I am today. And I am richer for those experiences.”

So what has helped her through the darker times? “I have great friends. I am lucky that I have a core of people who support me and when I’ve been on my knees, they have listened, helped me shift my perceptions and get me through the dark times.”

Lulu, who turns 68 later this year, has often been complimented for her age-defying looks. She still looks amazing and has her own theory for her youthful appearance: “I feel I am still growing up! I suppose I am an incorrigible teenager. They say that when you become successful at a very young age, you stay that age,” laughs the singer who was a national star at 15, belting out the hit Shout.

She also credits her healthy lifestyle – a disciplined approach to diet and regular exercise – and a conscious effort to try and live in the moment for keeping her young at heart. “I’ve been practising meditation for 30 years but I think they call it mindfulness these days,” she says. “I make it a practice not to regret things. And I’ve done a lot of work to change the way I do things through meditation, therapy and self help books. And now, I am more accepting of myself.”

Certainly relationships have not always been easy. Married twice, Lulu was divorced from Bee Gee, the late Maurice Gibb, after four years together in 1973 and from second husband celebrity hairdresser John Frieda after 15 years, in 1992.

“I was only 19 when I marrried Maurice. Perhaps if I’d married him in my 30s the relationship may have lasted longer. Who knows?”

These days she says she is content to be single. She does not believe that she will marry again. “I’ve been there and done that and got the T shirt. I like the word partner. Finding or being with a partner is such a nice phrase,” she smiles.

Her career has both soared and stagnated over the years. The first rush of hits included To Sir With Love, a number one in the US, and a Eurovision win with Boom Bang-a-Bang in the days when Britain won. There were TV series too, film roles and she even delivered Bond theme song, The Man With the Golden Gun for the 1974 film with Roger Moore.

Last year saw her release her first self-penned album, Making Life Rhyme, which she co-wrote with her younger brother Billy Lawrie, also a musician. It was her first album in ten years and released through Decca (Records) the label that orginally signed her when she was 15: “I said to Billy that I wanted to get back into the record industry again after doing so many other things. I have learned much over the years and want to put it to good use,” she says.

Ageing is not for sissies! Sometimes it really hits you

Her collection of heartfelt modern soul songs won great critical acclaim and was followed by her debut appearance in front of a packed crowd at the Glastonbury Festival last July. In fact, she is so fired up by her music that she is back on the road again with her band in early March for a whistlestop 31-date UK tour and she clearly can’t wait: “I am at home on stage and it’s where I feel the most comfortable. I think in life we all want to be connected to someone or something and music connects me. It’s my passion,” Lulu says. “To still be cutting it in my career at my age feels like a blessing. The last tour in May last year was so successful that I wanted to do it all over again. I’m really excited.

“My songs are about the experiences in my life. I felt renewed and re-energised after the shows and people said to me ‘It felt like you left something with us when you went off stage,’ which I thought was lovely.”

Will she have to prepare for the new tour? “Oh gosh yes,” she says “For about a month before the shows I am very aware I have got to get back to my dance classes and I will be singing and exercising my voice every day.

“Generally I am very lucky and I’m blessed with good health,” she says. “It’s actually a shock for me if I ever find myself feeling below par or sick. I usually just try and ignore it. I’m not very good at being a patient.” She confesses that she has normal niggles despite her exercise regime “Ageing is not for sissies! Sometimes it hits you and you think ‘Goodness, it’s either, the knees or the back, or the neck!” she laughs.

“For the last few months I have changed my diet and I don’t eat gluten, sugar or dairy. I cheat a bit with the sugar sometimes! That is the biggest drug of all and we are a very addictive family. But it means I am not having sugar every day the way I used to which was insane. My new diet has improved my digestion.”

Right now, she is as hectic as ever. Promoting her Time Bomb skincare range means frequent trips to the US for business and she recently filmed a cameo appearance in the new Absolutely Fabulous movie, a big screen adaptation of the hit BBC series. The film will hit cinemas this summer and has reunited all the original cast members, the show’s creator Jennifer Saunders as fashion-conscious PR guru Edina ‘Eddy’ Monsoon and Joanna Lumley as her sidekick, hard-drinking socialite Patsy Stone. In the show, Edina is Lulu’s hopeless publicist: “She’s supposed to help my career but always messes things up. Filming was a blast. I just spent the whole time laughing.”

But what really makes Lulu’s world is her family – and being the proud gran of five-year-old Bella and Teddy (3). Together with her West Highland Terrier Clyde, she is a regular visitor to the north London home of her son Jordan (38) – from her second marriage to John Frieda – and his wife Alana and the two little ones. The grandchildren frequently stay with her too. “I love being a grandmother!

Teddy is blond and cherubic and Bella is long-legged and beautiful,” she smiles. “Bella is so fussy. She looks pained when she doesn’t want to eat something or wear an outfit. And I will look at her and say: “You’re not the only one in the family who’s fussy”. And she said: “I’m not? Who else is there?” And I will say: “Hellloo!” She is like this sweet little mirror of me. They are a constant joy.”