Lulu and the Eurovision Song Contest

13th May 2023

The Eurovision Song Contest, which airs tonight on BBC1, has produced countless memorable moments, but few are as iconic, and potentially controversial, as Lulu’s (shared) victory in 1969.

On 29 March that year, Glasgow-raised Lulu was one of sixteen performers to take to the stage at Madrid’s Teatro Real – and one of four that ‘won’ the contest. How did that happen, and did she actually end up bringing home the silverware to Scotland? Let us explain…

The making of Lulu’s Boom Bang-a-Bang

Lulu’s entry was Boom Bang-a-Bang, from songwriters Alan Moorhouse and Peter Warne. Looking back, it seems obvious that its striking intro and catchy melody would push it towards the top of the scoreboard, and its legacy has unsurprisingly proved enduring. Its success not only brought Lulu international acclaim but cemented her status as one of Scotland’s most beloved musical icons. And Boom Bang-a-Bang itself remains a timeless classic that continues to captivate audiences to this day.

The United Kingdom had been seventh in the running order on the night of the contest. That put it comfortably in the middle of the pack, which is generally considered a decent spot – and perhaps it paid off, as Lulu took the top spot with 18 points.

Unfortunately, so did three other artists. They were Spain’s Salome, with Vivo Cantando, Lenny Kuhr from the Netherlands with De Troubadour, and France’s Un Jour,Un Enfant, by Frida Boccara.

Four medals for four winners

Today, after a significant rule change, it’s highly unlikely we’d ever see four contestants – or even just two – sharing the top spot.

That’s because if more than one has the same score, the organisers would examine which has received the most ‘douze point’ scores. So, should one country get two twelves, and its rival get one twelve and two sixes, thus both scoring 24, it’s the country that scored twelve from two national juries that would triumph.

That rule wasn’t in place in 1969, so all four contestants, including Lulu, were declared the winner, and each was sent home with a medal. Fortunately for the EBU, which stages the contest, it had had four medals minted – although not on the off-chance there were four winners. Instead, they’d been intended for the winning singer and three song writers.

So, in this instance, the writers went home empty-handed, but at least had the satisfaction of knowing they’d penned one of the four most popular songs in Europe that week.


FREE Scotland history newsletter

Don't miss our weekly update on Scotland's fascinating history. We promise never to sell your data to anyone else, and there's a super-easy unsubscribe link on the bottom of each email so you can leave whenever you want.