Where are they now? Elkie Brooks
We catch up with Seventies and Eighties singing superstar ELKIE BROOKS who has no intention of hanging up her microphone just yet
At the age of 73, Elkie Brooks is still as busy as ever, touring the world with her unique voice that gave us iconic international hits such as Pearl’s a Singer, Lilac Wine and Gasoline Abbey.
It all started in 1945 when Elkie was born Elaine Bookbinder into a Polish Jewish family in Salford. Music was in the blood as Elkie’s maternal grandmother, Maude Newton, was a fine classical pianist, violinist and singer and it wasn’t long before Elkie was trying her hand at singing, too.
“Neither of my parents were musical, but my brothers were; Tony played drums for Billy J Kramer, and Ray played bass and trumpet. And of course, I sang and played piano,” explains Elkie, who used to sing at Bar Mitzvahs and weddings as a little girl. “I’ve always had a natural low singing voice and my headmistress said to me, ‘Wonderful voice, darling, but you sound like a boy.’”
At the age of 13 Elkie did her first professional show at the Manchester club The Laronde and her music manager, Don Arden (Sharon Osbourne’s father) persuaded her to change her name.
Elkie learned her trade on the cabaret circuit, supporting bands from The Beatles to The Animals, before she became frontwoman of the rock group, Vinegar Joe, featuring Robert Palmer and her first husband, Pete Gage.
After the band split up in 1974, a solo career beckoned for Elkie and she released her first album, Rich Man’s Woman, in 1975. She was also asked by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber to do the concept album for Evita, including Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina. But after a meeting I was told they felt I had far too much to say for myself and I thought ‘Your loss!’.”
In 1977, Elkie’s career rocketed up another notch when she made the album Two Days Away with the single, Pearl’s a Singer, being released on her birthday that year. “I liked making music and being in the business but I never thought it would take off.”
Since 1978, Elkie has been married to her second husband, sound engineer Trevor Jordan. The couple share a home in the West Country with their sons, Jay and Joey. As a family, they enjoy paragliding and handgliding. In recent years, Jay has also become Elkie’s manager, producing her albums on their own label, Eventful.
“I still enjoy performing my old hits live,” says Elkie who has just recently finished her latest tour. But she’s also keen to point out there’s more to her life than her music. The important thing is I’ve got my health and a great family around me. I do the Japanese martial art Aikido every day and I can’t see myself retiring for quite a few years.
“I’ve still got lots to do and I’m singing well. It’s when I lose my fitness levels and start warbling that will be time to hang up my microphone.”
■ Elkie’s autobiography Finding My Voice is published by Biteback.To find out her latest concert dates, visit www.elkiebrooks.com
Elkie in the Sixties (top) and singing with Vinegar Joe, above
Singing sensation: Elkie, pictured recently, is still regularly on tour