Shortly after Olivia’s birth (in Cambridge, England, in September 1948), her family moved from England (where her Welsh-born father was head of King’s College, Cambridge) to Australia and settled in Melbourne.
When she was a teenager, Olivia dropped out of high school and won a talent contest which sent her back to England.
She joined the Anglo-American group Toomorrow, and appeared in a 1970 science fiction movie of the same name. Her partners in Toomorrow were Americans Ben Thomas and Karl Chambers and Britain’s Vic Cooper.
Their first disc, You’re My Baby Now, flopped badly. So did the film and their further chart bids and, before long, Olivia reverted to a solo career.
In 1971, Olivia released her first album, If Not For You. She went on to release several more British albums including, Olivia and Banks Of The Ohio.
She had her first US hit single with her version of Dylan‘s If Not For You and followed this with the gold album Let Me Be There. Her career continued to flourish in Britain and she scored another hit early in 1973 with Take Me Home, Country Roads.
Although Olivia never considered herself a country singer she was voted Female Vocalist of The Year by both the American and British Country Music Association in 1974, and won a Grammy for Best Country Vocal (Female) for Let Me Be There – which actually flopped in the UK but gave Livvy her first US Top Ten hit.
Representing Britain in the prestigious Eurovision Song Contest in 1974, she came third with Long Live Love, but the song gave her another hit.
In 1975 she won a Country Music Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). If You Love Me, Let Me Know was a hit Stateside, which she followed with I Honestly Love You, an American #1 which also won her a Grammy.
Despite a highly successful music career, she will probably be best remembered for the 1978 musical film Grease, with John Travolta.
Grease was an international hit and it spawned three huge hit singles – Hopelessly Devoted To You, Summer Nights and You’re The One That I Want – which spent a massive nine weeks at #1.
In 1979 she changed her musical style from pop to rock, with the successful album Totally Hot. In 1980, Olivia returned to the big screen with Xanadu (a commercial flop), and in 1983 she teamed up with John Travolta again in Two Of A Kind.
More hits followed with the soundtrack: Twist Of Fate and Livin’ In Desperate Times.
Olivia was awarded an OBE in 1979 for her contribution to entertainment. Olivia opened up her own shop called Koala Blue on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles in 1986 with her business partner Pat Farrar.