Lulu opens up on David Bowie relationship and wonders what might have been

12 February 2024, 11:01 | Updated: 12 February 2024, 11:59

Lulu on her career, new tour and David Bowie

By Mayer Nissim

Lulu and David Bowie had a whirlwind relationship with David Bowie.

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Lulu is this year winding up her career as a touring musician, recently confirming that her upcoming Champagne for Lulu tour will be her last.

The jaunt will take in hits from across her 60 years in music, which has led to her looking back and being asked about some of her most memorable moments.

One such moment came in the mid-1970s, when Lulu had a brief working – and apparently romantic – relationship with David Bowie.

Long before Kurt Cobain and Nirvana put their spin on it, Lulu covered Bowie's then under-heard track 'The Man Who Sold The World' and turned it into a hit single in 1974, outdoing most of Bowie's own songs with its number 3 placing.

Bowie and Mick Ronson produced the song, with Ronson also providing guitar, and long-time Bowie associates Trevor Bolder on bass and Mike Garson on piano, with session maestro Aynsley Dunbar on drums.

David Bowie and Lulu in 1973
David Bowie and Lulu in 1973. Picture: Getty Images

As well as producing, Bowie provided backing vocals and saxophone, and the song pre-empted the sound of Bowie's yet-to-come Young Americans, while Lulu's outfit in the video foreshadowed Bowie's own Thin White Duke Persona that was a couple of years away.

The single also featured a cover of a more recent Bowie song on the B-side, the more recent Aladdin Sane album track 'Watch That Man'.

"I first met him in a studio in the US with Iggy Pop," Lulu told The Guardian of how they hooked up.

Lulu 1974 The Man Who Sold The World

"Later, he walked over to me in the foyer of a hotel in Sheffield, invited me to his show that night and said, 'I wanna make a hit record with you'. Which is exactly what happened.

"The record company wanted me to be a little pop diva but he said, 'They don’t get your voice'. I loved Hunky Dory and he looked as if he hadn’t wiped his makeup off from the day before.

"His hair was orange, his skin was alabaster. Once we’d had something to drink we were head-to-head, nose-to-nose for the rest of the evening."

Lulu and David Bowie in 2000
Lulu and David Bowie in 2000. Picture: Getty Images

She added: "It was quite a difficult time. He was doing Young Americans and involved in a lot of dark things.

"I was a little bit frightened and kinda ran. I don’t have many regrets but there is a part of me that thinks, 'What if the relationship would have continued?'. I'm a very private person, and most people only know a piece of me, but Bowie got me."

Lulu also revealed that she recorded at least two other Bowie covers, the Diamond Dogs outtake 'Dodo' and Young Americans track 'Can You Hear Me'.