Born in London (UK) on 11 September 1946, Julie Covington attended the Brondesbury and Kilburn High School in Kilburn. Her break came in 1967 when, while still a student at Homerton College, Cambridge, she was invited to sing on David Frost’s television show – after which she secured a recording contract. In 1971 she was cast in the original London production of ‘Godspell’ at The Roundhouse, alongside David Essex, Jeremy Irons and Marti Webb. A recording of the production, featuring Covington’s lead vocal on the track ‘Day by Day’, was released in 1972. She was then cast as Janet Weiss in the original production of ‘The Rocky Horror Show’ in 1973.
Between 1974 and 1984 Covington appeared regularly in the companies of the National Theatre and the Royal Court Theatre, creating such roles as Alice in ‘Plenty’, Vivienne Eliot in ‘Tom & Viv’ (for which she received an Olivier Award nomination) and Edward in the original production of Caryl Churchill’s Cloud Nine. During the early 1970s she appeared and sang on the children’s television programme ‘Play Away’. She starred in the BBC’s 1975 Christmas production ‘Great Big Groovy Horse’, a rock opera based on the story of the Trojan Horse shown on BBC2. 1976 and 1977 saw her appearing in both series of the primetime British television programme, ‘Rock Follies’.
In 1976, the composer Andrew Lloyd Webber saw her perform in cabaret, and recognising her from ‘Rock Follies’, suggested to lyricist Tim Rice that she might be the actress to play the title role in their original studio recording of their musical Evita. The singer Elkie Brooks had previously turned down an offer. Covington’s recording of the song ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’ reached No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart in February 1977. Later offered the opportunity to originate the role in the stage production of Evita, she declined, which led to Elaine Paige being cast.
In 1978, Covington performed the role of Beth, wife of Parson Nathaniel (Phil Lynott), on the recording of ‘The Spirit of Man’ from Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds. Covington achieved chart success with a cover version of Alice Cooper’s ‘Only Women Bleed’ from her eponymous 1978 album. This album also featured a cover version of Kate Bush’s The Kick Inside.
After recording a second solo album and guesting on other artists’ albums she returned to the theatre, starring in the 1982 National Theatre production of ‘Guys and Dolls’, playing Sister Sarah opposite Ian Charleson’s Sky Masterson.
Kate about Julie Covington
I met Julie Covington through Jay. He is a friend of hers, and I’ve known her for a long time (Kate Bush Club newsletter, Issue 5, April 1980)