Elliman on tour with Eric Clapton, San Bernardino, California, August 15, 1975
|Birth name||Yvonne Marianne Elliman|
|Born||(1951-12-29) December 29, 1951 (age 61)|
Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
|Genres||Broadway, disco, pop|
|Instruments||Vocals, Piano, Guitar|
|Years active||1970–c.1980 and 2004–|
|Labels||Purple Records, Polydor Records, Umgd Records, Umvd Import, Polygram Records, Taragon Records|
|Associated acts||Eric Clapton, Bee Gees|
Yvonne Marianne Elliman (born December 29, 1951) is an American singer who performed for four years in the first cast of Jesus Christ Superstar. She scored a number of hits in the 1970s and achieved a US #1 hit with "If I Can't Have You." After a long hiatus in the 80s and 90s, during which time she dedicated herself to her family, she made a comeback album as a singer-songwriter in 2004.
Elliman is of Japanese and English descent. She was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, and graduated from President Theodore Roosevelt High School in 1970. She played in the high-school band, and after graduation she moved to London.
Elliman's singing career began in 1969 in London where she performed at various bars and clubs. At the time she did not like what she was singing. "I hated the music then," she recalled in a 1973 interview, adding "I did it for the bread. I was into drugs and all that, and thought Grace Slick and the Jefferson Airplane was it." While still an unknown, she was discovered by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, who asked her to sing Mary Magdalene's part for an audio recording of Jesus Christ Superstar. After its release as an album they invited her to join the stage show's traveling cast, which she did for four years.
She had her first hit single in 1971 with the ballad "I Don't Know How to Love Him", from Jesus Christ Superstar. The song was her first entry on the U.S. charts, peaking at #28 pop in 1971, although a cover version by Helen Reddy was a bigger hit. In the end, Elliman sang Jesus Christ Superstar on the 1970 concept album, in the original Broadway cast (1971), and starred and sang it in the 1973 film by the same title. She and Barry Dennen were alone among the cast to have lasted from the original record through the two stage productions to the film, for which her screen performance as Mary Magdalene led to a 1974 Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy.
In 1971 Elliman moved to New York City for the Broadway production of Jesus Christ, Superstar, where she met her first husband, Bill Oakes, who worked with Robert Stigwood as President of RSO Records. Aged 19, she married Bill Oakes soon after, and was asked to sing backing vocals on Eric Clapton's version of the Bob Marley song "I Shot the Sheriff" in 1974. She then went on tour as part of Clapton's band, and soon afterwards got her own recording contract with RSO Records. She would continue to work with Clapton, performing on his albums from 1974 to 1977, including 461 Ocean Boulevard, There's One in Every Crowd, E. C. Was Here, No Reason to Cry, and Slowhand albums. A first album for the RSO label (her third in all), Rising Sun, produced by Steve Cropper, produced no hit singles, but her next album, Love Me, produced by Freddie Perren, gave her two top-20 hits, "Love Me" (written by Barry and Robin Gibb), and a Barbara Lewis cover, "Hello Stranger." "Hello Stranger" topped the U.S. Adult Contemporary charts for four weeks, and was also a #15 Pop hit in 1977, while "Love Me" was a #14 Pop hit in late 1976/early 1977.
Also in 1977, the Bee Gees were working on Saturday Night Fever and wrote "How Deep Is Your Love" for her, but Stigwood wanted the Bee Gees to perform it. Instead, she sang "If I Can't Have You." The song was a big hit, rising to #1 in the Billboard Hot 100; It is generally considered the high point of her recording career.
A few minor Top 40 hits followed in 1979, including the title theme song from the film Moment by Moment and another disco track, "Love Pains," which was a major club success. She appeared in a two-part episode of the television action series Hawaii Five-O during this period as an aspiring singer, performing the song "I Can't Get You Outa my Mind" with co-star James Darren. The single "Savannah" was also a minor hit. Shortly thereafter she decided to dedicate herself to her two children.
After a considerable hiatus, Elliman reappeared on the music scene. An album titled Simple Needs, with all songs written by Elliman, was released in 2004 and re-released globally in 2007. Elliman has continued performing at music festivals, benefits and concerts throughout the country and around the world. She also performed on a PBS special on 70's soul music in 2004, singing "If I Can't Have You".
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