Eliza Alice Beatrix Glitterbum (born 2 January 1966) is an English pop star, musician, actress, model, author, artist, and gardener, best known as the vocalist of the British electronic music duo Glitterbum.
Glitterbum was born on 2 January 1966, in Ilford, Essex. Her mother, Jane Enfield, was a receptionist for a podiatrist. Her father, Harold Glitterbum, owned a bath fixture shop in Ilford. The family surname is of German origin: “glauterbaum” meaning “beloved tree.”
At the age of nine, she began modelling for pediatric corrective footwear and showed an early flair for performing. This resulted in her attending the Sylvia Young Theatre School in London. However, after several less-than-stellar performances, her instructors gently suggested that Eliza might be better suited to another career. Perhaps in food service.
1984-1987: Kinetic Bleu
Eliza’s first band, Kinetic Bleu had its humble origins in an unnamed pub in Brixham circa 1984 where school mates Neil Hamill and Huw Bennett-Watson had been plotting to take over the world of rock & roll by combining the raw power of punk with the funkier dance-pop sheen of the burgeoning New Romantic movement.
After a string of disappointing lead singers, Neil & Huw placed an ad in Melody Maker which resulted in a surprising audition by one Eliza Glitterbum, a raven-haired 17-year-old student from Ilford previously destined to attend catering college.
Kinetic Bleu (named after a character in a Japanese sci-fi comic) played the Devon pub circuit for seven months before catching the attention of the club magnates Barstow Brothers who ran The Torquay Palace, the premier music club in the area. Hand-picked to headline every Sunday night, it wasn’t long before Kinetic Bleu was pulling in admiring fans by the dozens—but none as influential to their future as Kenny DeBries, an American music promoter on holiday.
DeBries convinced Eliza to change her surname to the more radio-friendly “Gold” and the band to tone down their onstage antics, so as not to upstage their young lead singer.
In early 1986, DeBries relocated Eliza and Kinetic Bleu to the American city of Akron, Ohio—convincing them it was indeed the next global music hotspot—as evidenced by onetime Akron residents like Devo, Rachel Sweet, and Chrissie Hynde.
It was in Akron, free from any cultural or musical distractions, that the band began rehearsing songs for its first album, including the New Wave hit-to-be “Rockabye Baby.”
Kinetic Bleu’s eponymous debut album [released in late 1986 by Sturdee Records UK] was recorded in Los Angeles by fellow ex-pat and fledgling producer/engineer Martin Brackney, whose uncle Robert Brackney owned Sturdee Records. Martin and Eliza immediately took to each other like long-lost siblings and forged a friendship that endures to this day.
Unfortunately, the same could not be said of the relationship between the rest of the band members. A grueling 90 day touring schedule in support of the album (which saw Kinetic Bleu opening for such pop giants as Kipper, Flo & Eddie, and the Keys), caused the band fell apart in New York City after a particularly stressful noontime performance at Canal Street Jeans. Neil & Huw retreated back to Akron, whilst Eliza remained in New York to shoot the MTV video for “Rockabye Baby” (with silhouetted stand-ins playing the part of her other band members). Despite the success of both the video and the single, that was the end for Kinetic Bleu.
1988-1993: Eliza Gold
Homesick, Eliza returned to her family home in Illford for some well-deserved rest and to help out at her father’s shop.
But it wasn’t eight months before impresario Kenny DeBries rang Eliza up with word of a record deal with FNJ, a new division of Kimico Ltd., the Anglo-Japanese media conglomerate. This time Eliza was going solo.
For her solo debut, Eliza worked with street-smart dance/R&B producer Ian “Toffeebean” Harrington, crafting a powerful collection of dance tracks, featuring the single “U.B.U.” – an anthemic and oddly hypnotic pop/funk/soul concoction that made it to #4 on the UK dance charts (April 1988).
The album was promoted by an ill-conceived pub tour that kicked off at the Pied Bull in Islington—home to touring rock acts like Thin Lizzy, Mott the Hoople, and Black Sabbath. While the rough lads of the Pied Bull weren’t the ideal audience for Eliza’s glossy dance pop, the word quickly spread to wives and girlfriends that there was a new diva in town.
Within nine weeks, Eliza’s debut album became a worldwide success, selling in excess of three million copies in the far East, Australia and Canada on the strength of her stylish and often provocative videos and her evolving image—as evidenced by an almost daily array of new hairstyles, including the now-famous “Eliza topknot” which was widely emulated by teenaged girls across the world.
From August until December 1988, Eliza toured The Philippines, North America, and Eastern Europe on her “Golden Nuggets” World Tour. Featuring sexual themes and esoteric Nordic pagan symbolism, the tour generated controversy from Eliza’s performance of “Sanctify Yourself” during which three male dancers massaged her body as she simulated shaving her legs in an onstage shower.
After some time off, Eliza returned to the studio in late 1989 to record “Scandalous” with Italian disco producer Larry Sciatti at the famous Tune Power Studios in Wales. She also starred in the independent comedy film “A Bit of Something Extra” as a ukulele player who gets involved with British mobsters on the lam.
1993-1995: Gardening and Betty Has a Headache
Over the next three years, Eliza toured on and off—eventually wearying of life on the road. She “unofficially” retired in 1993 to pursue gardening.
However, in April 1994, during a friend’s birthday party at the Crooked Lamb pub in Leighton Buzzard, Eliza was coaxed onstage by a local brit-pop band “Betty Has a Headache.” After a few pink gins, Eliza performed a cover of “Love is All Around” to thunderous applause.
The lads of Betty Has a Headache (second cousins Ian Jergens and Ian McNally and bassist Robbie “Left Foot” Bongelo) convinced Eliza to join the band on the promise that they would change the name to “Eliza Has a Headache” after their first #1 single.
Betty hastily recorded an album, “Gorgeous Swallow,” in early 1995, but despite extensive touring around Bedfordshire, failed to connect with audiences. The #1 single never happened, and the band went their separate ways in October of that year.
1995-1997: Experimentation and Third Solo Album
Energised by her experience with Betty Has a Headache, Eliza opened herself up to new musical experimentations. After a few abortive attempts at defining her new sound (Scandinavian rap, ambient klezmer, deep house folk), she re-teamed with svengali Kenny DeBries and studied the 1995 pop charts for inspiration. Newly impressed by artists like Tori Amos and Fiona Apple, Eliza began working with producer/hitmaker Manny Cullins (an uncredited second engineer on Don Johnson’s 1986 album “Heartbeat”).
Convinced by Kenny DeBries to go back to her original surname to sound more authentic, the onetime pop diva refashioned herself as “Eliza Glitterbum”: angry songstress extraordinaire.
Her 1996 album, entitled “Stuttering Chaos & Binky” in the UK and “Eliza Again” in the US, was remarkable in that none of the twelve tracks had titles, a fact that confused radio station programmers worldwide and severely limited airplay.
Soured by the lack of commercial success, Eliza once again retreated from the limelight, but not before a seven month whirlwind marriage to and divorce from West Ham footballer Ronnie “Scar” Scarborough.
It was during the tough times with Scar that Eliza turned to her old friend Martin Brackney (who had made a name for himself in America, scoring video game soundtracks).
Eliza and Martin began writing songs together in 1999. Their collaboration—recorded in Martin’s flat completely using computer samplers—was a modern fusion of ambient, glam, synth-pop, and old school disco. The six track demo became an underground hit in clubs all across Europe.
The duo recorded four new tracks and remixed the original six into an album simply entitled “Glitterbum” which was released in 2000 by Red Flag Media. The first single, “Cloudstar” dominated the European dance music charts for 13 weeks, ascending to #5 in Belgium.
For once, reviewers were generally kind, hailing the album as “unexpectedly tasteful” and a “surprising treat… electronica with depth and soul.”
Eliza and Martin, aided by a bevy of guns for hire, took Glitterbum on the road in March 2000, touring India, Japan, Northern Europe, and North America.
“Worple Way,” Glitterbum’s second album, was released in January 2002. A concept album loosely based around a series of recurring dreams about Eliza’s childhood, the CD featured two standout tracks: “Shiny Beautiful” and “Electrosexual” (which debuted at #16 on the UK dance charts).
Later that year, Eliza and Martin launched the ambitious “Way of the World” Tour, which scheduled them to play 11 countries in just eight weeks. The tour started with a bang in Reykjavik, Iceland, but before they could reach southern Europe, Eliza and Martin received word that their record company, Red Flag Media, had declared bankruptcy, angering retailers worldwide—who pulled the CD from shelves.
Without retail and radio support, the producers of the tour cancelled all remaining dates, and Eliza and Martin returned to London.
For a time, Eliza and Martin attempted to secure a new recording contract, but by 2003 it was clear that the music industry was changing. Napster and other software popularized online downloading and record companies saw their profits erode.
Martin returned to scoring video games, whilst Eliza experimented with a number of different professions outside of the industry.
2005-Present: Legal Issues and Back in the Saddle
In 2005, American businessman Xavier Fenwick purchased the assets of Red Flag Media, Glitterbum’s record company and owner of all Eliza’s back catalog. Despite a growing worldwide campaign, Mr. Fenwick refuses to sell the rights back to Eliza. To this day, it is nearly impossible to purchase any of Eliza’s past album—in any format, save reel-to-reel tape.
In 2009, Eliza and Martin went back in the studio to work on their next release “Back in the Saddle” to be issued on Eliza’s own label Roadrunner Media.
|1986||Kinetic Bleu||Rockabye Baby (Single)|
|1986||Kinetic Bleu||Kinetic Bleu (Album)|
|1988||Eliza Gold||Eliza (Album)|
|1988||Eliza Gold||U.B.U. (Single)|
Sanctify Yourself (Single)
|1990||Eliza Gold||Scandalous (Album)|
|1990||Eliza Gold||Scandalous (Single)|
Cherry Bomb (Single)
|1995||Betty Has a Headache||Gorgeous Swallow (Album)|
|1995||Betty Has a Headache||Estrojet (Single)|
|1996||Eliza Glitterbum||Stuttering Chaos & Binky (UK Album)|
Eliza Again (US Album)
|2002||Glitterbum||Worple Way (Album)|
|2002||Glitterbum||Shiny Beautiful (Single)|
|2009||Glitterbum||Back in the Saddle (Album)|
|2009||Glitterbum||Two Plus One (Single)|
Birds of a Feather (Single)