A gifted singer and songwriter whose fans include Elton John, Brian May of Queen, and celebrated violinist Nigel Kennedy, Judie Tzuke won an enthusiastic audience in the '70s and '80s for her passionate and personal fusion of pop and rock, and continued to record and perform well into the 2010s.
She was born Judie Myers in London on April 3, 1956. Her Polish immigrant parents had changed their last names from Tzuke to Myers shortly after relocating to England (it was a common last name in their new home of Yorkshire), but by the time Judie began her singing career, she had decided to use original family surname. Both of Tzuke's parents were involved in music: her father, Sefton Myers, managed artists and singers (including Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice as the duo penned Jesus Christ Superstar), while her mother, Jean Silverside, acted in several popular films and TV shows. By her teenage years, Judie began penning poems and setting them to a guitar accompaniment, showcasing her original compositions at local folk clubs. Soon after, Tzuke met a songwriting collaborator in Mike Paxman, and the duo, known as Tzuke & Paxo, caught the attention of renowned producer Tony Visconti, who signed them to his Good Earth record label. The duo only managed to issue one obscure single, 1977's "These Are the Laws" b/w "It's Only Fantasies," before Tzuke was signed as a solo artist to Elton John's Rocket label.
Tzuke first issued a single for her new label, "For You," which was a moderate success on U.K. radio, scraping the Top 40. But around the time of the release of her full-length debut in 1979, Welcome to the Cruise, Tzuke scored a more substantial hit with "Stay with Me Till Dawn," which stayed on the British charts for 16 weeks and made several appearances on the popular TV program Top of the Pops. Despite landing a prime touring spot opening for her pal Elton John (including playing to an estimated 450,000 people at New York's Central Park), John's label switched distribution in the U.S. around this time, which made it difficult to find Tzuke's music in record stores. Despite this, Tzuke's career continued to prosper in England, resulting in such further popular releases as 1980's Sportscar, 1981's I Am the Phoenix, and 1982's Shoot the Moon, in addition to appearances at major British music festivals and a pair of sold-out shows at the Hammersmith Odeon. Tzuke hoped that signing with a new label, Chrysalis Records, would bring her recording career to the next level, especially in the United States. This proved not to be the case, as Tzuke appeared to be lost in the shuffle when she issued her next studio release, Ritmo, in 1983.
Undeterred, Tzuke continued to issue further albums, including 1985's The Cat Is Out (recorded entirely at her home studio), 1989's Turning Stones, 1991's Left Hand Talking, and 1996's Wonderland (which featured a cameo by Brian May). Tzuke formed her own record label, Big Moon Records, shortly thereafter, which issued Under the Angels and the in-concert Over the Moon in 1997. Secret Agent followed in 1998, as well as another live set, Six Days Before the Flood, in 2000. Around the same time, Elton John decided to return the copyrights of Tzuke's first three (and most popular) albums back to her, which resulted in them being remastered and reissued on Big Moon. Tzuke's next studio effort, Queen Secret Keeper, was released in 2001, with an all-covers album, The Beauty of Hindsight, following in 2003. The 2004 album The End of the Beginning preceded her two-volume Songs series, archival releases with the first volume (2007) focusing on her softer material while the second (2008) favored rock. Two years later, her career-spanning Moon on a Mirrorball collection was supported by a tour of the U.K. After the release of One Tree Less in 2012, Tzuke offered her fans a subscription service through her website that provided access to one new song each month. Tzuke later released songs from the subscription series on the albums Song Club (2014) and Songclub Too (2015). The prolific Tzuke returned in November 2017 with the album Peace Has Broken Out, followed by a U.K. tour in 2018. ~ Greg Prato, Rovi