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Ellie (Emmanuelle) Heathcote-Brown is the eldest daughter, and second child, of William (Bill) Brown and Sylvia Heathcote. She was born on Christmas Day 1969, in Vermont. Her older brother is Walter, and her younger sisters are Patricia and Katrina.

Ellie grew up in the family home in Burlington VT, where her Uncle Lawrence also lived. From a young age, until just before she turned 12, she helped him edit and print his newsletter.

In June 1985, at the age of 15 and immediately after Walter's death, Ellie ran away from home. With the help of Walter's roommate she changed her identity (and added two years to her age). Less than two years later, she was singing in the Velvet Cave, a jazz bar in Anaconda, MT.