On the January 22 2017 airing of Saturday Night Live, the cast did a (not tongue-in-cheek) tribute to President Barack Obama by singing the classic sixties hit, “To Sir With Love,” made famous by Britain’s Lulu.
LuLu’s “To Sir With Love”
“Lulu was born Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie, on November 3rd, 1948, the eldest of a family of four, in Lennox Castle, Lennoxtown, Glasgow – the daughter of a local butcher. She started singing almost immediately. ”
1966 proved a memorable year in Lulu’s career, although it was the year that finally saw her parting company from her backing band The Luvvers. Besides a hectic round of TV and radio appearances in Britain and Europe, she also undertook major concert tours; with The Hollies to Poland – to become the first British girl singing star – ever to perform behind the Iron Curtain – followed by a lengthy British tour with Roy Orbison and The Walker Brothers. She also switched record labels, too, from Decca to Columbia – ironically the company that turned her down two years before – and joined forces with producer Mickie Most, whose stable at that time included The Animals, Donovan, and Herman’s Hermits. Lulu also finished the year on another high note, when she starred in the pantomime ‘Babes In The Wood’ at the Wimbledon Theatre and won rave reviews from the press.”
However, the undoubted highlight of that year came in the spring, when she signed to star in her first movie – playing the part of cheeky ‘Barbara Pegg’ – in ‘To Sir With Love’, alongside Sidney Poitier. She was great, too, and once again was acclaimed by the Press for her performance when the movie was released in April 1967, and later on went to break box-office records all over America. She completely justified the faith put into her by the film’s writer, producer and director James Clavell, who said at the time: ‘This girl has a naturalness, a straightforward quality coupled with a really exciting personality, A very important movie quality indeed.’ He said it all.
“If 1966 proved a major turning point in Lulu’s career, then the following year certainly consolidated all her success, and established a marvelous pattern. She enjoyed three major hit singles – ‘The Boat That I Row’, ‘Let’s Pretend’ and ‘Love Loves To Love Love’ – and also signed for her first BBC Television series called ‘Three Of A Kind’ (with Mike Yarwood and Ray Fell). In the summer, she embarked on a massive tour of America, appearing on such top-rating programmes as ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’, ‘David Frost Show’, ‘Johnny Carson Show’, and many many more.
“Back in Britain, she appeared in concert in London with the Monkees, then at the height of their outstanding careers, – and stopped the show. Then in November, she was chosen to appear in The Royal Variety Show at the celebrated London Palladium, one of the highest personal accolades in British show business.
“That’s not all. ‘To Sir With Love’ shot to the very top of the American Singles Chart to give Lulu a unique distinction in International show business.”
She was the only non-American female singer ever to have topped the US Singles Chart for five weeks, and at that time only one of five British female singers to have topped the chart.”
Lulu joined this elite band in 1967 when ‘To Sir With Love’ – the title song from her debut movie appearance – was released as a single…and within weeks it was sitting at [#1], the very pinnacle of the US Chart. The record stayed there for five weeks and by November 1967 had sold a million copies. In all, the record-making single went on to sell nearly 4,000,000 copies worldwide. It was a remarkable feat for the lovely green-eyed singing star: it was the first time in recording history that a US hit by a British artist was never given a domestic release, even though it was a No. 1, but then, Lulu has been breaking records and making International show business history ever since.” —Lulu.co.uk
SIDEBAR: Based on the book of the same name by E.R. Braithwaite, To Sir With Love, like its predecessor The Blackboard Jungle (in which Poitier also starred, this time as a disruptive student), is one of many in a long line of films of the “inpirational teacher meets disturbed or angst-ridden student” variety. The trend, started in the 1950s, has continued to the present, spawning such box-office successes as Lean on Me, Dead Poets Society, Dangerous Minds, Wonder Boys and even Sister Act 2.
“To Sir With Love” was written by lyricist Don Black and composer Marcus London. Don Black has collaborated with many of the world’s greatest motion picture soundtrack composers including John Barry, Quincy Jones and Henry Mancini. He has also worked extensively with the prolific musical creator Andrew Lloyd Webber.
To Sir With Love Lyrics
(Words and Music by Don Black and Marcus London)
Those schoolgirl days,
of telling tales and biting nails are gone,
But in my mind,
I know they will still live on and on,
But how do you thank someone,
Who has taken you from crayons to perfume?
It isn’t easy, but I’ll try..
If you wanted the sky
I would write across the sky in letters,
That would soar a thousand feet high,
To Sir, with Love
The time has come,
For closing books and long last looks must end,
And as I leave,
I know that I am leaving my best friend,
A friend who taught me right from wrong,
And weak from strong,
That’s a lot to learn,
What, what can I give you in return?
If you wanted the moon
I would try to make a start,
But I would rather you let me give my heart,
To Sir, with Love