Elkie Brooks (born Elaine Bookbinder, 25 February 1945) is an English singer. She was a vocalist with the bands Dada and Vinegar Joe, and later became a solo artist. She gained her biggest success in the late 1970s and 1980s, releasing 13 UK Top 75 singles, and reached the top ten with "Pearl's a Singer", "Sunshine After the Rain" and the title track of the album No More the Fool. She has been nominated twice for Brit Awards.
|Birth name||Elaine Bookbinder|
|Born||25 February 1945|
|Origin||Broughton, Salford, Lancashire, England|
She is generally referred to as the "British Queen of Blues". Her 1981 album Pearls became the best-selling album by a UK female artist in the history of the charts at that point. In 2012, Brooks was the British female artist who had achieved the most Top 75 UK Albums Chart entries.
Life and career
Early career and Vinegar Joe
Brooks was born Elaine Bookbinder in Broughton, Salford, the daughter of Marjorie Violet "Vi" (née Newton) and Kalmon Charles "Charlie" Bookbinder. She was raised in Prestwich. She attended North Salford Secondary Modern School.
Her older brothers are Raymond Bookbinder (born 1938) and 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. 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. She went on to tour the United States with several bands, including the Animals. She also toured the then communist Poland with Jon Lord's Artwoods.
After she met Pete Gage, whom she would marry, she joined the short-lived blues rock 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. After three albums, they split up in 1974, and Brooks and Palmer pursued separate solo careers. After a time as backing singer with the American southern boogie band Wet Willie, she returned to England.
Solo career and chart success
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 because of the album's cover shot of a naked Brooks with a feather boa, which was considered outrageous for the time.
It came before a run of 16 albums in 20 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. That same year, Brooks duetted with Cat Stevens in the song, "Remember the Days of the Old Schoolyard". 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". Her polished, powerful cover of Gallagher and Lyle's "The Runaway", saw the Scottish singer-songwriters appear with Brooks on TOTP's to provide backing vocals.
In 1980, Brooks performed at the Knebworth Festival with the Beach Boys, Santana and Mike Oldfield. The Pearls album released in 1981 achieved the biggest success of her career, charting for 79 weeks and reaching No 2, the album was still in the charts one year later when Pearls ll (1982) reached No 5 and spent 26 weeks on the UK charts. The Gus Dudgeon produced "Fool If You Think It's Over (1981)" was a major hit single for Brooks, written by Chris Rea. Other charts singles followed with "Our Love" "Nights In White Satin" & Gasoline Alley all produced by Gus Dudgeon. Minutes (1984) and Screen Gems (1984), were both all UK album chart hits in the same year.
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" reached the top five and became her biggest hit single to date with the parent album also reaching the top five. This led to her achieving another career peak, as she had two albums in the Top Ten and a single in the Top Ten all on the same week. 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).
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, with the acclaimed 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' 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. In 2012, Brooks released her autobiography Finding My Voice, published by The Robson Press. In it she details her life and career, focusing on her love of performing live and the downsides of the recording business, which has often left her financially no better off.
In July 2017 after signing to Virgin EMI she issued a new CD Elkie Brooks: Pearls The Very Best Of, which charted at No 14 and included two new singles: "Love Ain't Something that You Can Get for Free" and the Bryan Adams penned "Forgive and Forget" later in the year a remix of the 1979 album track "The Rising Cost of Love" was also released as a single, all 3 singles made it to the Radio 2 'A' playlist with "Forgive & Forget" being the Radio 2 "Record of the Week" . Brooks promoted the CD with several appearances on Radio 2 shows and the BBC's The One Show, Live at the Palladium & Aled Jones Show. Later in the year Brooks appeared at the London Palladium, on 19 September, to mark 40 years since her first sell out week there in 1977. The show celebrated her 40 years of success since the hit single "Pearl's a Singer" was released.
In 2017 Brooks recorded the closing theme song "Running to the Future" for the British movie Finding Your Feet, starring Imelda Staunton, Timothy Spall, Celia Imrie and Joanna Lumley. The track was released as a download only single and was included in the soundtrack CD album. Her self-penned song "Just An Excuse" has been the subject of various remixes, most notably appearing on the Bonobo album Migration (2017) which was a UK No 5 hit. Brooks has performed live continuously every year since 1977 with current concert dates set throughout 2019.
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, 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 had not 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. In 2009, all the family were involved in Brooks' career, songwriting and touring.
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