Elkie Brooks

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Elkie Brooks
Brooks at the Coventry Apollo in 1983
Brooks at the Coventry Apollo in 1983
Background information
Birth nameElaine Bookbinder
Born (1945-02-25) 25 February 1945 (age 77)
OriginBroughton, Salford, Lancashire, England
Genres
Occupation(s)Singer
Years active1960–present
LabelsIsland, A&M
Websiteelkiebrooks.com

Elkie Brooks (born Elaine Bookbinder; 25 February 1945)[5][failed verification] is an English rock, blues and jazz 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.[6] She has been nominated twice for the Brit Awards.[7]

Brooks is a Gold Badge Award of Merit winner from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) (now The Ivors Academy)[8] and is generally referred to as the "British Queen of Blues".[9][10]

Life and career[edit]

Early career and Vinegar Joe[edit]

Brooks was born Elaine Bookbinder in Broughton, Salford, the third child of Marjorie Violet "Vi" (née Newton), and Kalmon Charles "Charlie" Bookbinder, a Jewish baker.[11][failed verification] She was raised in Prestwich, and attended North Salford Secondary Modern School.[citation needed] Brooks' mother converted to Judaism upon her marriage.[12] Her father's grandparents emigrated to Britain from Poland at the start of the 20th century to escape the pogroms. 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.[citation needed]

Whilst still a child, Brooks began singing at barmitzvahs and weddings; 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. Aged 15, she won a talent contest in Manchester, leading to her taking part in a pop package tour which was promoted by Don Arden (whose daughter, Sharon Osbourne, would later be known as a music manager).[12] 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.[13] 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 The Artwoods.

In the 1960s, Brooks had begun singing jazz with Humphrey Lyttelton's band, but subsequently changed direction musically.[12] After she met Pete Gage, whom she would marry, she joined the short-lived blues rock[4] 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.[14] 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[edit]

Brooks first solo album, released on A & M Records, was Rich Man's Woman (1975). It was released to critical acclaim, but Brooks was criticised[by whom?] because of the album's cover shot of a naked Brooks with a feather boa, which was considered outrageous for the time.[15]

This came before a run of 16 albums in 20 years, starting with Two Days Away (1977), produced by the songwriting duo Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who had previously worked with Elvis Presley; Brooks also wrote tracks with Leiber and Stoller. The hits "Pearl's a Singer" (reaching No. 8 in the UK Singles Chart) and "Sunshine After the Rain" (which reached No. 10) came from this album.[16] 1977 also saw Brooks duet with Cat Stevens on the song "Remember the Days of the Old Schoolyard" which reached No.33 on the Billboard charts and No.44 in UK. 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".[17] Her polished, powerful cover of Gallagher and Lyle's "The Runaway" saw the Scottish singer-songwriters appear with Brooks on Top of the Pops to provide backing vocals.

In 1980, Brooks performed at the Knebworth Festival with The Beach Boys, Santana and Mike Oldfield.[18] The Pearls album, released in 1981, was the biggest commercial success of her career, charting for 79 weeks and reaching No. 2 in the UK Albums Chart. The album was still in the charts a year later, when Pearls ll (1982) reached No. 5, spending 26 weeks on the charts. The Gus Dudgeon-produced "Fool If You Think It's Over (1981)", written by Chris Rea, was a major hit single for Brooks. Other chart singles followed, with "Our Love", "Nights in White Satin" and "Gasoline Alley", all produced by Dudgeon. The 1984 albums Minutes and Screen Gems were both chart hits in the same year.[17] In 1986, Brooks sang the title theme song for the BBC television series A Very Peculiar Practice. Written by Dave Greenslade, it was never released commercially.

In early 1987, the song "No More the Fool" reached the top five for Brooks, 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, with two albums in the top ten and a single in the top ten in the same week.[19][20] More 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).[17]

Later work[edit]

In March 2003, Brooks participated in the ITV music talent show Reborn in the USA, alongside musicians such as Peter Cox, Tony Hadley and Leee John. The same year, the album Trouble in Mind was released, which saw her collaborate with Humphrey Lyttelton, whom she had worked with earlier in her career, and his Band. The album included "Bad Penny Blues" with added lyrics. The Electric Lady album (2005), produced by her son Jermaine Jordan, 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's twentieth studio album, Powerless, also produced by Jordan, 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.[21] In 2012, Brooks released her autobiography Finding My Voice, published by The Robson Press. In it, she detailed her life and career, focusing on her love of performing live and the downsides of the recording business, which she says has often left her financially no better off.[22]

In July 2017, after signing to Virgin EMI, the album Pearls - The Very Best Of, was released. It 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 three singles made it onto the Radio 2 'A' playlist, with "Forgive and Forget" being the network's "Record of the Week". Brooks promoted the album with several appearances on Radio 2 programmes, including the Aled Jones Show, and The One Show on BBC One. On 19 September that year, Brooks appeared at the London Palladium to mark 40 years since her first sell-out week at the venue in 1977. The show also celebrated her 40 years of success since the release of the single "Pearl's a Singer".[23]

The same year, Brooks recorded the closing theme song for the British movie Finding Your Feet, which starred Imelda Staunton, Timothy Spall, Celia Imrie and Joanna Lumley. The track, "Running to the Future", was released as a download only single, and included on the soundtrack album.[24] Brooks' self-penned song "Just An Excuse" has been remixed several times, most notably appearing on the hit Bonobo album Migration in 2017. She has performed live since 1960; her 2021 tour, put back from 2020, has been billed as her 60th Year Anniversary Tour.[25]

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, who had worked with Diana Ross, Rolling Stones, Pavarotti , Sarah Vaughan and many others. They live in Devon and have two sons, Jermaine (born 22 December 1979) and Joseph (born 31 December 1986).[26] 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.[26] In 2000, Brooks' management and tour promotion was taken over by her son, Jermaine, and his wife, Joanna.[27]

Discography[edit]

Awards[edit]

The Ivors Academy[8] Formerly British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors BASCA.

Year Work Category Result
1999 Herself Gold Badge Award of Merit Won


Songfestival van Knokke / European Song Cup [28]

(Music contest in the Belgium, 1959-1973).

Year Award Category Result
1964 [29] International Press Award Best Performance Won

Capital Radio Music Awards 1979[30]

Year Category Result
1979 Best British Female Singer Nominated

Melody Maker British Music Magazine. [31]

Year Category Result
1972 Face of 1973 Won

Disc Music Poll Awards 1974

Disc was a British music magazine between 1958 and 1975, when it merged with Record Mirror.[32]

Year Category Result
1973 Top Female Singer (Britain) 8th place

Ny Musik Svensk Musiktidning [33]

(Music magazine that circulated in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland).

Year Award Category Result
1974 Guldörat (Swedish Golden Ear Award) Best Female Singer International. Won

The British Rock & Pop Awards [34]

Organised jointly by the Daily Mirror, (Associated Television 1976/77), BBC Radio 1 and BBC TV's Nationwide (TV programme) 1978/84.

Year Category Result
1977 Best British Female Singer Won
1979 Best British Female Singer Nominated


Guinness Book of British Hit Albums[35]

Year Category Award Result
1998 Most Charted Female Artist Albums Most UK hit albums by a female artist 1977-1997 Won

Record Mirror Year End Charts

Year Category Work Result
1977[36] Albums Of The Year Two Days Aways 74th place
1977 Singles Of The Year Sunshine After the Rain 98th place
1981[37] Albums Of The Year Pearls 34th place
1982[38] Albums Of The Year Pearls 11th place
1982 Albums Of The Year Pearls II 75th place
1987 [39] Singles Of The Year No More The Fool 100th place
1988 [40] 1987 Chart Survey Top Singles Artists 92th place
1988 1987 Chart Survey Top Albums Artists 57th place


Music Week Awards - Chart Performance Survey

Year Category Format Result
1977[41] Top Female Artist Singles 5th place
1977 Top Female Artist Albums 4th place
1978[42] Top Female Artist Singles 5th place
1978 Top Female Artist Albums 8th place
1978 Design Awards (Black and White) Album Advertisements 2th place
1978 Radio Comercial Advertising (Don't Cry Out Loud) 2th place
1983[43] Top 100 Albums Album (Pearls II) 77th place

British Phonographic Industry[44] certifications:

Year Work Award - Format Result
1978 Two Days Away Silver - Album Certified
1978 Two Days Away Gold - Album Certified
1978 Shooting Star Silver - Album Certified
1981 Pearls Silver - Album Certified
1981 Pearls Gold - Album Certified
1981 Pearls Platinum - Album Certified
1982 Pearls II Silver - Album Certified
1982 Pearls II Gold - Album Certified
1982 Pearls II Platinum Album Certified
1984 Screen Gems Silver - Album Certified
1984 screen Gems Gold - Album Certified
1987 No More the Fool Silver - Album Certified
1987 No More the Fool Gold - Album Certified
1998 The Very Best of Elkie Brooks Silver - Album Certified
1998 The Very Best of Elkie Brooks Gold - Album Certified
2013 The Best of Elkie Brooks Gold - Album Certified

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Reviews 2". Elkiebrooks.com. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  2. ^ Button, Simon. "Whatever happened to Vinegar Joe singer Elkie Brooks | Life | Life & Style". Express.co.uk. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
  3. ^ Denselow, Robin (9 September 2005). "Elkie Brooks, Cabot Hall, London". The Guardian.
  4. ^ a b "Elkie Brooks - Biography & History - AllMusic". AllMusic.
  5. ^ Burnett, Bryan (30 November 2011). "Music – Elkie Brooks". BBC. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
  6. ^ Roberts, David, ed. (2006). British Hit Singles and Albums. Guinness World Records Limited. p. 79. ISBN 978-1904994107.
  7. ^ "Elkie Brooks, the British Queen of Blues". Independent Television. 22 April 2021. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  8. ^ a b "Ivors Academy". Retrieved 22 November 2020.
  9. ^ Hunt, Keith (6 September 2013). "Elkie's star is still shining". Kent Online. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
  10. ^ "Elkie Brooks cancels Huddersfield concert after losing voice". News report. Examiner.com. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
  11. ^ "About". Elkie Brooks British Queen of the Blues. Retrieved 21 July 2021.
  12. ^ a b c "Elkie Brooks". Jewish Lives Project. Retrieved 21 July 2021.
  13. ^ Interview on Woman's Hour, BBC Radio 4, Wednesday, 31 March 2010.
  14. ^ Denselow, Robin (9 September 2005). "Elkie Brooks, Cabot Hall, London". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
  15. ^ "Album Covers #40". www.retrospace.org. Retrieved 17 March 2021.
  16. ^ "Elkie Brooks: UK Top 10 hits". Chartwatch. Retrieved 21 July 2021.
  17. ^ a b c "The Official Charts Company – Elkie Brooks". The Official Charts Company. 5 May 2013. Archived from the original on 30 June 2013.
  18. ^ "Rock Concerts". Knebworth House. 20 July 1974. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
  19. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100 - Official Charts Company". www.officialcharts.com. 31 January 1987. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  20. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100 | Official Charts Company". www.officialcharts.com. 31 January 1987. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  21. ^ Gore, Will (12 July 2010). "Elkie to make a splash at Pools". Wimbledon Guardian. Archived from the original on 14 March 2012. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
  22. ^ North Devon Journal, Elkie Brooks autobiography signing at Waterstones. 30 August 2012 Archived 12 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ "Elkie Brooks 'Pearls: The Very Best Of Elkie Brooks' - Music News". Music-News.com. 13 April 2017. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
  24. ^ "'Finding Your Feet' Soundtrack Details - Film Music Reporter". Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  25. ^ "Elkie Brooks 60th Year Anniversary Tour 2020". buxtonoperahouse.org.uk. Retrieved 17 March 2021.
  26. ^ a b Finding My Voice, Elkie Brooks autobiography. The Robson Press, 2012
  27. ^ "Contact Us". www.elkiebrooks.com. Retrieved 17 March 2021.
  28. ^ "Record Mirror" (PDF). Retrieved 11 February 2022.
  29. ^ "Cash Box" (PDF). Retrieved 11 February 2022.
  30. ^ "Radio Capital Awards" (PDF). Retrieved 10 November 2021.
  31. ^ "Elkie Brooks Story". Retrieved 8 March 2022.
  32. ^ "Disc" (PDF). Retrieved 13 May 2022.
  33. ^ "Record & Radio Mirror" (PDF). Retrieved 15 March 2022.
  34. ^ "British News Paper Archive". Retrieved 17 February 2022.
  35. ^ "Wikimedia". Retrieved 11 November 2021.
  36. ^ "Record Mirror" (PDF). Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  37. ^ "Record Mirror" (PDF). Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  38. ^ "Record Mirror" (PDF). Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  39. ^ "Record Mirror" (PDF). Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  40. ^ "Record Mirror" (PDF). Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  41. ^ "Music Week Awards" (PDF). Retrieved 10 November 2021.
  42. ^ "Music Week Awards" (PDF). Retrieved 10 November 2021.
  43. ^ "Music Week Awards" (PDF). Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  44. ^ "BRIT Certified". Retrieved 6 January 2021.

External links[edit]