ELKIE BROOKS: Q&A batch #1


Born in Salford, singer Elkie Brooks was discovered aged just 15 by showbiz impresario Don Arden. She fronted Vinegar Joe with Robert Palmer, and after going solo, became one of the UK's biggest-selling artists. and she lives in north Devon and has two sons.


Brooks was born Elaine Bookbinder in Broughton, Salford, the daughter of Marjorie Violet "Vi" (née Newton) and Kalmon Charles "Charlie" Bookbinder. She was raised in Prestwich. She attended North Salford Secondary Modern School.

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.

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. She first sang professionally at the age of 15, and 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.

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 Artwoods.

After she met Pete Gage, whom she would marry, she joined the short-lived blues rock[ 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.

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.


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