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Yvonne Elliman

Yvonne Elliman
File:Yvonne Elliman.jpg
Elliman on tour with Eric Clapton, San Bernardino, California, August 15, 1975
Background information
Birth name Yvonne Marianne Elliman
Born (1951-12-29) December 29, 1951 (age 64)
Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
Genres Broadway, disco, pop
Occupation(s) Vocalist, songwriter
Instruments Vocals, Piano, Guitar
Years active 1970–c.1980 and 2004–[1]
Labels Purple Records, Polydor Records, Umgd Records, Umvd Import, Polygram Records, Taragon Records
Associated acts Eric Clapton, Bee Gees
Website Yvonne

Yvonne Marianne Elliman (born December 29, 1951)[1] 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 1980s and 1990s, during which time she dedicated herself to her family, she made a comeback album as a singer-songwriter in 2004.


Early years

Elliman was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, and graduated from President Theodore Roosevelt High School in 1969. Her mother was of Japanese descent[2] and her father of Irish descent.[3] She played in the high-school band,[4] and after graduation she moved to London.[5]

London years, Jesus Christ Superstar

"I Don't Know How to Love Him" from Jesus Christ Superstar (1971)

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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,[6] 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,[7] 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.[5]

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.[1] 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.[8] She and Barry Dennen were alone among the cast to have lasted from the original record through the two stage productions to the film,[6] for which her screen performance as Mary Magdalene led to a 1974 Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy.[1]

New York and disco

In 1971 Elliman moved to New York City for the Broadway production of Jesus Christ, Superstar, where she met her first husband,[9] 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".[5] "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.[1]

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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".[10] The song was a big hit, rising to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100;[1] It is generally considered the high point of her recording career.[11]

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".

Personal life

She married songwriter Wade Hyman in 1981[12] and they had two children, Sage (born 1983) and Ben (born 1986).[2] They later separated.[13]



Year Album Peak chart positions
1972 Yvonne Elliman
1973 Food of Love
1975 Rising Sun
1977 Love Me 68
1978 Night Flight 40
1979 Yvonne 174
1995 The Very Best of Yvonne Elliman
1997 The Best of Yvonne Elliman
1999 If I Can't Have You
Yvonne Elliman
2001 The Collection
2004 Simple Needs
20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Yvonne Elliman

Charted singles

Year Single Chart peaks
1971 "I Don't Know How to Love Him"
U.S. #28 [#30],AC #15, UK #47, Australia #72, Canada #20,

Italy (1973) #21

"Everything's Alright" U.S. #92[#95], AC #25, Australia #100
1975 "Walk Right In" U.S. #109
1976 "Love Me" U.S. #14[#10], AC #5, UK #6, Australia #15, Canada #11,

Ireland #9, Netherlands #16, New Zealand #3, South Africa #3

1977 "Hello Stranger" U.S. #15[#14], AC #1, RNB #57, UK #26, Canada #13,

Netherlands #20, New Zealand #12

"I Can't Get You Outa My Mind" AC #19, UK #17
1978 "If I Can't Have You" U.S. #1[#1], AC #9, RNB #60, UK #4, Australia #9, Canada #1,

Ireland #20, Netherlands #31, New Zealand #6

1978-79 "Moment By Moment" U.S. #59, AC #32
1979 "Love Pains" U.S. #34 [#53], AC #33,

Netherlands #22

1980 "Your Precious Love" w/Stephen Bishop U.S. #105


[15] [16]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f [[[:Template:Allmusic]] "Biography by Stephen Thomas Erlewine"]. Retrieved July 17, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b Honolulu Advertiser: "Reinvigorated Elliman may invest in rock future" By Wayne Harada February 17, 2002
  3. ^ Midweek Kaui: "Yvonne Elliman: Still Rockin’ - While walking in her Manoa neighborhood, Yvonne Elliman talks candidly about her roller coaster trip to stardom in the ‘70s when she was performing with the likes of Eric Clapton" by Rasa Fournier May 11, 2007
  4. ^ Larkin, Colin (2002). The Virgin encyclopedia of 70s music. Virgin. p. 122. ISBN 978-1-85227-947-9. 
  5. ^ a b c Bronson, Fred (2003). The Billboard book of number 1 hits. Billboard Books. p. 490. ISBN 978-0-8230-7677-2. 
  6. ^ a b Son of Son of God? Village Voice August 16, 1973
  7. ^ Snelson, John (2009). Andrew Lloyd Webber. Yale UP. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-300-15113-8. 
  8. ^ Hischak, Thomas S. (2008). The Oxford companion to the American musical: theatre, film, and television. Oxford UP. p. 874. ISBN 978-0-19-533533-0. 
  9. ^ "Yvonne Elliman: Still Rockin'". Careerkokua (Hawaii Careers Information website). May 16, 2007. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  10. ^ Bilyeu, Melinda; Hector Cook; Andrew Môn Hughes (2004). The Bee Gees: tales of the brothers Gibb. Omnibus. p. 412. ISBN 978-1-84449-057-8. 
  11. ^ Simpson, Paul (2003). The Rough Guide to Cult Pop. Rough Guides. p. 141. ISBN 978-1-84353-229-3. 
  12. ^ Hawaii Pacific University newspaper: "Superstar Yvonne Elliman back in Hawaii" by Agge Sjobom retrieved Aril 6, 2015
  13. ^ Massachusetts Live: "Yvonne Elliman makes rare Northeast appearance at Big E" by Ray Kelly September 24, 2011
  14. ^ [[[:Template:Allmusic]] "Allmusic ((( Yvonne Elliman > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))"]. 
  15. ^ [[[:Template:Allmusic]] "Allmusic ((( Yvonne Elliman > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles )))"]. 
  16. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 182. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 

External links

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