|Birth name||Yvonne Marianne Elliman|
December 29, 1951 |
Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
|Genres||Broadway, disco, pop|
|Occupation(s)||Singer, songwriter, actress|
|Instruments||Vocals, piano, guitar|
|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, songwriter, and actress 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", the song also was #9 on the Adult Contemporary chart. Her cover of Barbara Lewis's "Hello Stranger" went to #1 on Adult Contemporary chart, and " Love Me" was also #5, giving her 3 top 10 singles on the AC chart. After a long hiatus in the 1980s and 1990s, during which time she dedicated herself to her family, she made a comeback album as a singer-songwriter in 2004.
Elliman was born and raised in the Manoa neighborhood of Honolulu, Hawaii; her mother was of Japanese ancestry  while the ethnic background of her father—a salesman for Best Foods—was Irish. Elliman was musical from an early age, playing the ukulele by age four and taking piano lessons at age seven. While attending President Theodore Roosevelt High School, Elliman performed in the school band on standup bass and violin. However, Elliman became most proficient on the guitar, and performed as a singer and guitarist in a folk music group named We Folk formed with some schoolmates. The group fared well in local talent shows. According to Elliman, she was an absentee student during her senior year at Roosevelt but graduated owing to the intervention of the school's British-born band teacher, who persuaded Elliman's teachers to pass her, and encouraged Elliman herself, then seventeen, to relocate to London to pursue a musical career, which she did shortly after graduating.
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 in the 1973 film, in which she starred. 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. She 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. 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. She appeared in Hawaii Five O in 1978.
"If I Can't Have You" from Saturday Night Fever (1977)
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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 on 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 '70s soul music in 2004, singing "If I Can't Have You." She recently[when?] reunited with Ted Neeley and Barry Dennen in Verona for a special Jesus Christ Superstar event.
On August 16, 2017, Elliman had been booked to sing in Guam for a Catholic School charity when she was stopped by customs on arrival for possession of marijuana and methamphetamine. She was booked and confined.
|Year||Album||Peak chart positions|
|1973||Food of Love|
|1995||The Very Best of Yvonne Elliman|
|1997||The Best of Yvonne Elliman|
|1999||If I Can't Have You|
|20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Yvonne Elliman|
|2016||Night Flight/Yvonne ( 2 On 1 Includes Bonus Tracks)|
|1971||"I Don't Know How to Love Him"
||US #28 [#30], AC #15, UK #47, Australia #72, Canada #20,
Italy (1973) #21
|"Everything's Alright"||US #92 [#95], AC #25, Australia #100|
|1975||"Walk Right In"||US #109|
|1976||"Love Me"||US #14 [#10], AC #5, UK #6, Australia #15, Canada #11,
Ireland #9, Netherlands #16, New Zealand #3, South Africa #3
|1977||"Hello Stranger"||US #15 [#14], AC #1, RNB #57, UK #26, Canada #13,
Netherlands #20, New Zealand #12
|"I Can't Get You Outa My Mind"||U.S. AC #19, Canada AC #11, UK #17|
|1978||"If I Can't Have You"||US #1 [#1], AC #9, RNB #60, UK #4, Australia #9, Canada #1,
Ireland #20, Netherlands #31, New Zealand #6
|1978-79||"Moment by Moment"||US #59, AC #32|
|1979||"Love Pains"||US #34 [#53], AC #33,
|1980||"Your Precious Love" w/Stephen Bishop||US #105|
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