For the 20th of my fortnightly programs on AIR Delhi FM Gold, Kiran Misra ji chose Cliff Richard, one of my most favourite singers. My generation grew up listening to his music and still continue to enjoy his prodigious volume of work. It was both challenging and enjoyable to go over hundreds of his songs that I love and pare the list down to a handful.
Sir Cliff Richard, a.k.a. the British Elvis Presley is one of the most famous singers who moved with time through various genres, starting with rock and roll, then moving to Pop and later to devotional/ gospel music. Over his entire career, he has sold more than a whopping 250 million records and counting , in his career. He has the third highest number of #1 hits in the UK and was conferred the Knighthood for his services to the music industry. Also, he is the first pop star from the West to have toured Russia for performances. Today, he is seen as a God-like figure of ‘rock and roll’, and enjoys an unprecedented popularity. He was actually born in Lucknow, India as Harry Rodger Webb, in October 1940, prior to India’s gaining independence. His father was a manager with a contractor responsible for providing catering on board the Indian Railways. The family later moved to Calcutta (as it was then known) and got spooked after seeing the unprecedented violence of the somewhat euphemestically named butchery that was unleashed by Suhrawardi and his murderers during the “Direct Action Day“. The family reached England and the young son started his education. Born in Lucknow, they had to flee India when he was not yet seven, before India got independence and they undertook a three-week boat journey to England.
They were refugees. His dad arrived with £5 and he couldn’t get a job. His parents, and his three sisters lived in a single room for nearly two years. He got bullied at school, because he talked differently when compared to the other kids and his skin was darker from years in India and called him ‘Indi-bum’
He began working as a temporary clerk for Atlas Lamps and when he was all of 16, his father gave him a guitar.
In 1957, he formed his own band, ‘Quintones’ vocal group, prior to joining the Teague ‘Skiffle Group’.
Soon he became the lead vocalist for the rock and roll group, ‘Drifters’ and adopted the stage name Cliff Richard in 1958 upon his visit to Regal Ballroom in Ripley, Derbyshire.
His debut single, ‘Move It’ was an instant hit, peaking at # 2 on the UK charts. “Move It” (1958) was the first great British, ‘rock-and-roll’ song. Between late 1958 and early 1959, he came up with another #1, ‘Living Doll’.
He starred in the movies, and ‘The Young Ones’, his debut movie as a male lead was a huge success too, the title song of the movie garnered immense popularity and sold more than a million copies.
His single ‘Living Doll’ was a hugely popular song which topped the UK Singles Chart two times selling 2,000,000 copies worldwide. The amazing part was there was a gap of 27 years between the two peaks.
He featured at the 56th spot in the 2002 list of ‘100 Greatest Britons’, conducted by The BBC.
In 2006, he was conferred Portuguese knighthood and was appointed, ‘Commander of the Order of Prince Henry’. Dubbed the British Elvis Presley, Richard found great success as a singer and an actor in hugely successful movies. Those of my generation who were passionate about music growing up have surely seen “Summer Holiday” and the song – and fun- filled adventures of a London Double Decker bus across Europe. Once he was replaced by ‘The Beatles’, as British pop’s prime mover, Cliff Richard became a born-again Christian in 1965. Eternally youthful, he went on to produce more than 100 hits en route to becoming a national figure in Britain and was knighted in 1995.
Rock and roll, also called rock ’n’ roll is a style of popular music that originated in the United States in the mid-1950s and that evolved by the mid-1960s into the more encompassing international style known as rock music, though the latter also continued to be known as rock and roll. Rock and roll has been described as a merger of country music and rhythm and blues, but, if it were that simple, it would have existed long before it burst into global consciousness. The seeds of the music had been in place for decades, but they flowered in the mid-1950s when nourished by a volatile mix of Black culture and white spending power. Black vocal groups such as the Dominoes and the Spaniels began combining gospel-style harmonies and call-and-response singing with earthy subject matter and rhythm-and-blues rhythms. By the mid-1960s this sophistication allowed the music greater freedom than ever before, and it fragmented into numerous styles that became known simply as rock. The rudimentary instruments, first popularized in the United States in the 1920s but were revived by the British musicians in the mid-1950s.
‘Skiffle’ was a style of music was played on rudimentary instruments and the term was originally applied to music played by jug bands (in addition to jugs, these bands featured guitars, banjos, harmonicas, and kazoos).
In the Britain of the post-World War II years, young musicians were delighted to discover a style that could be played on a guitar, a washboard scraped with thimbles, and a tea-chest bass (a broom handle and string attached to a wooden case used for exporting tea). Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie were the heroes of a movement that had one foot in the blues and the other in folk music.
Having played in skiffle bands during his youth in northern London, Cliff Richard, was backed by a band that eventually became known as ‘The Shadows’. The Shadows, were a London-based instrumental rock group whose distinctive sound exerted a strong influence on other young British musicians in the 1960s and beyond. The original members were lead guitarist Hank B. Marvin (original name Brian Robson), rhythm guitarist Bruce Welch (original name Bruce Cripps); Bassist Jet Harris by name of Terence Harris and drummer Tony Meehan. Later members included drummer Brian Bennett and Bassist John Rostill.
As the primitive charm of the skiffle era faded, the Shadows showed a generation of embryonic British rockers what to do. Thousands learned to play guitar by imitating the Shadows’ hits, which included, “Apache,” “F.B.I.,” and “Wonderful Land”; many went on to buy their own Stratocasters as the British “beat boom” took off. The era of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones made the Shadows’ music obsolete, and the group sadly first officially disbanded in 1968.
The Shadows reunited in 1973 and released the albums Rockin’ with Curly Leads (1974) which featured an updated sound that included, for the first time, vocals. The Shadows rode a wave of popularity that lasted well into the 1980s. The band faded from the scene once again, until 2004, when the Shadows embarked on what was billed as a farewell concert tour. Another final tour took place in 2009–’10, and a 50th-anniversary album, Reunited, appeared in 2009. Bennett and Welch were named Members of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2004.
Formed in 1958 as the ‘Drifters’, the band became the backing group for Cliff Richard, the British answer to Elvis Presley. A name change to avoid conflict with the American vocal group that was also called the Drifters prefaced the release of the first of the Shadows’ singles. The group’s trademark was the smooth twangy sound produced by lead guitarist Marvin’s lavish use of the tremolo arm of his Fender Stratocaster, an effect that could be made to sound either lyrical or sinister.
With a top 10 hit in every decade since the 1950s, Cliff Richard certainly has a story to tell: coming of age in the 1950s London, forging the way for British rock’n’roll with his unique sound, record sales and now past his 81st birthday. The original British teen idol, Cliff had a humble upbringing, but went on to fulfil his dreams through his trail-blazing music career. This is the story of a great British icon, celebrating more than 60 years in music.
People assume that pop music began with The Beatles in 1963, but it didn’t! It wasn’t just Richard; Billy Fury, Marty Wilde and Adam Faith were all playing rock and roll right at the start, as were the American idols, including the greatest of them all – Elvis.
He was barely fifteen when he was walking down the street with two of his schoolfriends when a car parked next to them and amazing music came blasting through its open window. The hair stood up as he had never heard anything like ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ and it changed his life forever. He admitted, that without Elvis Presley, there would have been no Cliff Richard.
It was incredible. One day he had a boring job as a credit control clerk in the company where his dad worked and he hated it. He was also singing part-time in a skiffle group, but skiffle didn’t really do it for him. So, he left and formed a rock and roll band. They got a record deal and wrote a song, ‘Move It’ and it went crazy. Suddenly Richard was on TV and Radio and doing shows up and down the country to thousands of fans going crazy while he was still 17!
Over the span of his career has sold over 250 million records worldwide, and is the third highest-selling singles artist in the UK, behind just The Beatles and Elvis Presley.
Cliff Richards and The Shadows, were the first great British band of the rock ’n’ roll era. Cliff had begun playing guitar as a teenager, inspired by the skiffle movement, and eventually formed his own backup band, originally called The Planets, and then briefly The Drifters. Around this time, he came up with the stage name of Cliff Richard. By the summer of 1958, they were known as The Shadows and released their first hit record, “Move It,” a #2 hit in Britain that launched their career . But when did Harry Webb become Cliff Richard? This is a funny story! It was early 1958 and his band were still ‘The Drifters’, before they became ‘The Shadows’. A promoter offered them a gig but he said that he wanted to bill them with the singer’s name up front, like ‘Bill Haley and the Comets’. He would call them, ‘Harry Webb and the Drifters!’ The second that he said it, Richard knew it sounded all wrong! Rock ‘n’ roll was glamorous, and American, and ‘Harry’ sounded too British. Richard thought, Rock ‘n’ roll stars are called Elvis, or Chuck, or Frankie, or Buddy – not Harry!
So the 1950s entrepreneur Harry Greatorex suggested he change from his real name of Harry Webb. The name Cliff was used as it sounded like ‘cliff face’, which suggested ‘Rock’.
‘Move It’ writer Ian Samwell suggested the surname ‘Richard’, as a tribute to Cliff’s hero Little Richard.
They got popular very quickly, and suddenly his picture was on the front of magazines, and journalists were calling him the ‘English Elvis’!
When he was 18, he was in a movie, ‘Serious Charge’. He had to sing a song, ‘Living Doll’ and it turned out that it was written in his movie contract , the Drifters and Richard as they hadn’t quite become The Shadows yet and had to release it as a single. Bruce Welch from the band had the idea of rearranging it as a country song and the rest is history.
The ‘English Elvis’ had found his own voice as when he started out, he was basically a British Elvis Presley impersonator. He had the quiff, the sideburns, the works! It was a bit of a tribute act. But where Elvis was seen as a rock ‘n’ roll rebel, that wasn’t him. He wanted to sell as many records as possible to as many people as possible -and that’s as true today as it was when he started.
Cliff Richard and The Shadows have displayed unbelievably tenacious longevity, with a career over five decades of hits in England, both collectively and for Richard alone. Richard is one of the few teen idols who has been able to remain a major star, and that too over nearly 6 decades.
While rock ’n’ roll was popular in Britain in the mid-and the late 1950s, the British teens had no native stars to fawn over as did their American counterparts. Richard filled the roll handily, and became a major draw in teen films and on TV as well as on tour. A major European star, between 1958 and 1964, he scored dozens of vocal hits, but only two made it to the U.S. charts, 1959’s “Livin’ Doll” and 1964’s “It’s All in the Game,” both in the Top 40. The Shadows, meanwhile, had their own separate career as a Ventures-styled instrumental band, scoring many hits—most notably 1960’s #1 U.K. hit, “Apache”—thanks to the “twangy” guitar of Hank Marvin.
In 1966, appearing alongside the famed preacher Billy Graham, Richard announced that he was a longtime believer; he followed this announcement with a series of gospel recordings. (In fact, his 1967 film, ‘Two a Penny’, was funded by Graham).
In 1968, The Shadows went off on their own, although throughout the next two decades they would reunite with him from time to time, mostly for live concerts. Throughout the 1970s, Richard pursued a singing and acting career. He hosted a series of variety shows on the BBC, one of which launched an Australian singer named Olivia Newton-John.
Surprisingly, between the mid-1970s and the early 1980s, Richard staged a remarkable comeback, finally cracking the U.S. charts in a major way, stateside and went gold. He followed with more hits, and continued to be a music-business force around the world, especially in England. He recorded duets with American stars working with Phil Everly in 1983 and Janet Jackson the year after. He appeared on the London stage through the mid-1980s in the smash hit play, ‘Time‘; during the mid-1990s he performed similar duty in the play “Heath-cliff” In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he enjoyed another period of Top Ten hit-making in the U.K., releasing several best-selling albums.
Through the 1980s and 1990s, Richard was also well-known for his annual gospel concert, a major charity event, and his Christmas singles. A number of these reached #1 status, includng his 1989 duet with rocker Van Morrison on “Whenever God Shines His Light” and his solo hit “Saviour’s Day”.
From his earliest days as a rock ‘n’ roller to his later career as a statesman of pop, Cliff Richard has been an ever-present in British music as one of the biggest selling icons in rock history.
He’s had hit singles in six decades, number one singles in five decades, two solo Christmas number ones – he’s been a chart phenomenon throughout his career and he’s still going strong.
In 2020, he released his 45th studio album, “Music… The Air That I Breathe“, which went all the way to number three, shifting 60,000 copies and going silver.
Sir Cliff’s backing band were initially called The Planets, but soon settled on Cliff Richard The Drifters – which was Samwell on guitar, Terry Smart on drums and Norman Mitham on guitar.
Richard was signed to EMI’s Columbia label on August 9. In his first session he recorded a version of Bobby Helms’s hit ‘Schoolboy Crush’ as his planned first single, with ‘Move It’ on the flip. ‘Move It’ came out on August 29 and went to number two in the charts.
After a couple of years and some hit records later someone pointed out that a brilliant and successful band called The Drifters had been knocking around the US since 1953, so Cliff’s Drifters had to change their name, they became The Shadows, and the rest is Cliffstory!
It’s amazing to remember now, but when Sir Cliff first hit the scene he was very much marketed as the “British Elvis”, much like Tommy Steele and Marty.
He was baptised as an Anglican as a young boy, but wasn’t particularly observant. That all changed in 1964, when he publicly embraced his Christianity.
At first, he considered quitting music altogether as being an Elvis-inspired popstar didn’t particularly help. But his Christian pals told him he didn’t have to give up his successful career because of his faith. It wasn’t impossible for him to do both though.
On June 16, 1966, Cliff appeared on stage campaign for evangelist Billy Graham and spoke publicly about his Christianity. While some fans feared this meant the end of his pop stardom, they were thankfully proved wrong.
By the following year, Cliff was starring in the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association financed movie Two A Penny,
Sir Cliff’s Christianity continued to have a massive impact on his pop career and before the end of the ’60s had made a six-part Gospel series for TyneTees TV and a documentary about the Holy Land.
Richard recorded his own religious albums, went on Gospel tours and recorded a string of Christmas singles.
Those seasonal smashes included top five hit ‘Little Town’ in 1982, and chart toppers ‘Mistletoe and Wine’ in 1988 and ‘Saviour’s Day’ in 1990 – not to mention ‘The Millennium Prayer’ mashing up The Lord’s Prayer with ‘Auld Lang Syne’ at the turn of the millennium.
Cliff Richard represented the UK at Eurovision not once but twice.
He sang ‘Congratulations‘ in 1968, and was oh-so close to glory. The song came second, behind Spain’s ‘La La La’ by just one point.
It’s been claimed to this day that Spanish dictator Franco fixed the vote to ensure the country would host the next year’s contest
Despite missing out on the trophy, ‘Congratulations’ was a number one hit in the UK and a massive worldwide success.
He gave Eurovision another go in 1973, singing ‘Power to All Our Friends’. It did pretty well, too, finishing in third place behind Spain (again) and ‘Tu Te Reconnaîtras’ from eventual winners Luxembourg.
Cliff remained associated with Eurovision, hosting the UK’s qualifying heats on his BBC TV show and presenting song contest previews in the early 1970s.
As the British Elvis, it was only natural that Cliff Richard would have a musical film career.
After a minor supporting role in Terence Young’s 1959 drama Serious Charge, he had a significant part in the following year’s music biz satire Expresso Bongo.
Then came lead roles in The Young Ones, Summer Holiday, Wonderful Life and Finders Keepers.
Cliff had a quick voice cameo in 1996’s Thunderbirds Are Go, before starring as the lead in Billy Graham’s Christian movie Two A Penny in 1968.
He appeared in Graham’s Israel documentary His Land in 1970, before starring opposite Olivia Newton-John in The Case in 1972.
Sir Cliff’s last proper film role was in 1973’s Take Me High.
Between 1960 and 1976, Cliff also fronted a number of TV shows, including The Cliff Richard Show, Cliff, Cliff and the Shadows, and It’s Cliff and Friends.
Cliff Richard has released nearly 150 singles, most of them pretty big hits, and Sir Cliff absolutely dominated the music press awards in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.
He picked up the top Male Singer or Vocal Personality from the NME Reader’s Poll pretty much every single year, as well as recognition from Melody Maker and Disc & Music Echo.
Richard won the Brit Award for Best British Male Solo Artist in 1977 AND 1982, and also picked up a Lifetime Achievement gong for Outstanding Contribution to Music in 1989.
He got an Ivor Novello for ‘Congratulations’ in 1968 and another for Outstanding Services to Music in 1970.
And then there was recognition from Royalty, with Cliff receiving an OBE from the Queen in 1980. In 1995, he became the first rockstar to get a Knighthood. He stayed away from marriage and setting up a family (despite coming close to doing so a few times) as he wanted to focus on his music.
In 1958, Sir Cliff Richard recorded ‘Move It’ at Abbey Road with his backing group The Drifters, who later became The Shadows.
What went behind this remarkable session when UK rock and roll was born? Well, Move It was Richard’s debut single, and was widely credited as one of the first authentic rock ‘n’ roll singles made outside the United States. He went on to record countless commercial releases at the studio, either with The Shadows, or as solo releases.
In the 1950s pop music was beginning to flood the corridors of EMI Studios. The pop charts had started in 1952 and two years later EMI had achieved its first number one with Eddie Calvert.
The producer Norrie Paramor led EMI’s Columbia label at the time and worked closely with the two pop engineers, Peter Bown and Stuart Eltham. Always on the lookout for new artists, Norrie came across a young singer who fronted a group called The Drifters. He invited the teenager, who called himself Cliff Richard, to audition for a recording contract and soon after, Cliff found himself in Abbey Road’s Studio Two, recording what would be his first ever single – a record that would give birth to the British rock ‘n’ roll movement.
Most of the pop songs Norrie and his colleagues were recording at EMI at the time were covers of American compositions. This was a time before the singer-songwriter, and before it became normal or even expected for artists to both write as well as perform.
On 24 July 1958, the newly signed Cliff Richard arrived in Studio Two at 7pm for an evening recording session to cut an American tune called Schoolboy Crush. The song took just under two hours to record and was intended to be the A-side to Cliff’s debut single. Norrie hired a chorus of five singers who got just over £4 each for their time, and a band of four musicians who were paid the standard rate of £6. But for the planned B-side they would do something a little different. The song was written by Ian Samwell, a guitarist in Cliff’s backing group at the time, heavily influenced by the work and style of the likes of Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley, and the band would be The Drifters, Cliff’s own group (later known as The Shadows).
The engineer Malcolm Addey new to Abbey Road, hired to assist engineers Peter Bown and Stuart Eltham with the growing demands of pop. The Move It, session was “real rock n roll”. It was put together in the last 40 minutes of the session and they went into overtime – still uncommon in 1950s Abbey Road.
Being so new, Malcolm wasn’t even meant to be on the session that day, but Peter, a veteran engineer, had asked Malcolm to cover as he had tickets to the opera. Though Norrie was wary to have a young engineer on such an important session, Malcolm soon proved his worth.
Cliff wanted to use amateur musicians, his group The Drifters and he had a great recording voice. One could put any microphone in front of Cliff and a good sound would be guaranteed.
Move It was fresh, and a perfect nod to the American rock ‘n’ roll scene that had captured the hearts of the British. It was originally intended that the A-side was to be Schoolboy Crush and Move It, the B-side. However, before release, the pioneering television producer Jack Good invited Cliff to perform on his show Oh Boy, the first all-music programme on British TV. Jack explained that Move It has to be the track he performs, and because of this, Move it was changed to the A-side and Schoolboy Crush to the B-side.
Move It reached #2 in the charts in the autumn of 1958. It undoubtedly changed Cliff’s life, having quit his office job to become a full-time musician just a month before it was released. But Move It had far wider implications. It was the first truly British rock ‘n’ roll song! The song was written by a Brit, the artist was British, and everything about it was British.
And it’s only fair that we turn our attention to the man that, up to now, has been involved in more of these #1 singles than anybody else, more than Lennon and McCartney, Jagger and Richards, Bacharach and David; Norrie Paramor!
Born in 1913, Paramor had worked as a pianist and arranger through the thirties and forties, before being appointed recording director at EMI in 1952 – the very year that the singles chart he was to help shape began. Having developed his sound during the light-programme, easy listening days, Paramor was perfectly positioned to help the pre-rock stars sway.
Already with a pretty impressive body of chart-topping work, it was about to become all the more impressive, because along came the great Cliff.
Cliff Richard has had eight number ones so far all of which have been produced by Norrie Paramor. He had a handful of truly rocking singles in ’58, but by the time he’d got down to the business of topping the charts, the rock had become more of a gentle toe-tap and he moulded Cliff’s sound. One wonders how Cliff would have turned out had he had someone else’s hands on the tiller.
And of course, wherever Cliff went, The Shadows weren’t far off. Paramor produced all of their chart-toppers too.
He also acted as the musical director for the Eurovision Song Contest, and wrote multiple film scores.
Choosing a limited number of songs was tough. Fortunately Kiranji agreed to give me freedom on the Cliff special . This is a complete recording. As YouTube decided to mute some songs itself due to their ideas (despite the descriptor that clearly states the purpose), you might want to listen to the songs shared by the links after the narrative on each one. https://youtu.be/4XB_9_GPjsE
1. Move It, the debut single by Cliff charted #2 in UK and is recognized by critics as the first genuine British classic rock and roll that Cliff Richard has recorded and it doesn’t get any better than this.
It’s also considered to be the first British track to be equal to American rock n roll, recorded in August 1958. Cliff has recorded different versions of the track over his 60 years in music, the album “Don’t stop me now” featured a completely different version of the track with an orchestra, “rock n roll silver” in 1983 had another rock version of the track and 2006 saw Cliff recording the track with the rock legend Brian May but the best by far is still the original one. The song was written by Ian Samwell, Cliff’s friend, who was a guitarist with his backing band, “The Drifters” (later, “The Shadows”). He wrote it while riding on a number 715 red London bus on the way to Cliff’s house in Cheshunt for a rehearsal.
The song is an attack on those who saw rock and roll as just a fad by asking what they hoped to replace it with!
When it came to recording it, the song’s producer Norrie Paramor had little faith in The Drifters (who at that time did not include Hank Marvin), so he brought in Ernie Shears to provide backing on the lead guitar and his electrifying riffing greatly enhanced the record.
This song was selected as the B-side to the cover of a Bobby Helms song. However when the producer Jack Good heard it, he insisted that if Cliff Richard was to appear on his TV show Oh Boy, he would have to sing “Move It.” The record was turned over and climbed to #2 in the charts, but was unable to dislodge Connie Francis’ song from the top spot. However its success made many see Cliff Richard as the British answer to Elvis Presley and for a time he adopted a rock n’ roller image. He was on his way to becoming Britain’s most successful solo pop singer, still recording and having major chart success six decades later.
In December of 2006, Richard re-recorded this with Brian May on guitar as part of a double A-side single along with “21st Century Christmas.” Again it reached #2 in the UK charts, this time behind Take That’s “Patience”.
The 1950s entrepreneur Harry Greatorex wanted the up and coming Rock ‘n’ Roll singer to change from his real name of Harry Webb. The name “Cliff” was adopted as it sounded like cliff face, which suggested “Rock.” It was “Move It” writer Ian Samwell who suggested that the former Harry Webb be surnamed Richard as a tribute to Little Richard.
Abbey Road Studio opened in 1931 originally to record classical music. The first person to record there was Sir Edward Elgar, who recorded “Land Of Hope And Glory” with the British National Symphony Orchestra. “Move It” was actually the first Pop record to be recorded there.
Cliff Richard recalled in the Mail on Sunday November 2, 2008: “I believe – and I’ve read that John Lennon thought so as well that this was the first real rock ‘n’ roll record made in England. That probably means it’s the first real American-sounding rock record made outside America – rock ‘n’ roll hadn’t happened in Australia, the Far East and certainly not in Europe. People such as Johnny Hallyday and Richard Anthony were hot on my heels. I remember standing in the corner of Studio Two in Abbey Road to record it – the one which, five years later, The Beatles and I used to fight to get.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5mIq3yF6Nc
2. “Living Doll”, song was Cliff Richard’s first #1 hit single in the UK, although Move It came pretty close. It also was a top 30 hit in the US. Recorded with the Drifters (Shadows), the song was released in 1959. “Living Doll” the song was in fact from the soundtrack of the film, which was Cliff Richard’s movie debut. It was written by Lionel Bart who also wrote the West End and Broadway musical, Oliver. It was originally intended for the singer Duffy Power before it was included in the film.
This was originally planned as a rock song, but one of his backing musicians, Bruce Welch, suggested a slower tempo like a country song and thought it would work better for the title, so they rearranged it into the now familiar form.
According to 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh, Lionel Bart said, “I had taken the inspiration from a real life person that did everything for me and so I wrote it in 10 minutes flat.”
It was part of the Album: 30 Years Of Hits (1959)
In the UK, this was the biggest-selling single of 1959 and in US it was at #30.
When it topped the UK chart, Cliff became the first artist to have the same song in two different versions at number one.
This was the first of Cliff Richard 14 UK chart-toppers. He is the only act in the UK to achieve a #1 single in each of the first five decades since the inception of the UK singles chart in 1952.
On October 21st 1962, Cliff Richard performed the song, “Living Doll”, on the CBS-TV program, “The Ed Sullivan Show”.
Number one twice with a 27 year gap in the middle, “Living Doll”, is a Sir Cliff Richard classic, and he has sang this song more number of times than any one of his other hits and it has always guaranteed that his adoring fans sing along with him at all his concerts. Such is its amazing, enduring influence and popularity. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAZYet-jqR8
3. Travellin’ Light:
“Travellin’ Light” is a UK #1 single recorded by Cliff Richard and The Shadows and released in 1959. It was the follow-up single to Richard’s first #1, “Living Doll”. “Travellin’ Light” was also a #1 hit in Ireland and Norway, selling 1.59 million copies worldwide. It was Richard’s last single of the 1950s and his first release after the Shadows had changed their name from the Drifters (so as to not conflict with the older American band of the same name).
This single by Cliff Richard and the Shadows was written by Roy C. Bennett, and Sid Tepper.
The first recording and first release by Cliff Richard and The Shadows was in July 25th, 1959 and October 2nd ,1959.
It was #1 for 5 weeks with the vocals by Cliff Richard, Hank Marvin on the lead guitar, Bruce Welch on the rhythm guitar, Jet Harris on the bass guitar, and Tony Meehan and Brian Bennette on the drums.
“Travellin’ Light,” was Cliff Richard and The Shadows second straight #1 single in the UK recorded in 1959 which is a gentle, dreamy tune that subtly showcases that famous rockabilly sound of the Shadows. The pace of the song doesn’t really change throughout the song and that adds to the beauty of the dream-like effect of the song which has a soothing mellow tune. The mild drums by Brian Bennett in the song included only cymbals and snares. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-yMb5Bo6VU
“Congratulations” is the longest single-word title and is also the longest word to appear in the title of an UK chart-topper, from the album, “The Best Of Cliff Richard”, Columbia, in 1968.
John Paul Jones, later of Led Zeppelin, played bass guitar on this song.
As well as the English version, Cliff recorded it in French, German and Spanish.
This came in #2 in the Eurovision Song Contest, losing out by just one vote to Massiel representing Spain with “La La La.”
This was written by Bill Martin and Phil Coulter, who the previous year penned Sandie Shaw’s Eurovision-winning song. In 1970 they had another chart-topper with England World Cup Squad’s rendition of “Back Home.”
The song originated when Coulter gave Martin a new melody with the title, “I Think I Love You.” Coulter recalled in 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh: “He looked for a five syllable word which would fit the melody and came up with ‘Congratulations.'”
The whole package with Cliff, that title with the brassy intro and the slow down and the key change in the middle was a fabulous one. It was well put together for Eurovision which stole that slow down from Edith Piaf’s, “Milord”.
Coulter recalled the Eurovision contest in 1000 UK #1 Hits: “We were in the Royal Albert Hall (in London) and we had a very partisan crowd supporting Cliff. It looked as if we were going to win easily but the old enmities came to play and West Germany marked us down. The song that won, ‘La La La’ sank without a trace”.
In fact, “Congratulations” has proven with time that it really was the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest. Coulter, however, would settle for coming second with “Congratulations” selling six million records than writing a song that had won Eurovision and disappeared without a trace.
Despite losing out in the Eurovision Song Contest, this topped the charts throughout Europe selling several million copies. “Congratulations” has also become an all-purpose standard in the UK. It was performed outside the Buckingham Palace following the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana in 1981 and also the following year at Southampton docks when the victorious British troops returned after the Falklands war.
In 2008 it was claimed in a documentary that Cliff Richard lost out in the Eurovision Song Contest because of a fix by the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. Producer Montse Fernandez Vila alleged that Franco bought votes so that Massiel could win the competition. Spanish TV presenter Jose Maria Inigo added: “It was a fix. Massiel won Eurovision with bought votes.”
At first Cliff Richard had doubts about the song, but he has since come round. He told Mojo: “For the Eurovision Song Contest, I did six songs on The Cilla Black Show and the public voted for the one they liked best. There were a couple of others I was hoping would win, and they didn’t. Now, when I go to a restaurant, and people are having a birthday party, guaranteed they sing Happy Birthday, then they all swing into Congratulations! Can you imagine? But then I think, well, if someone had offered me Happy Birthday, I would have done it.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xJcE9tnY6E
5. The Young Ones:
“The Young Ones”, is a single by Cliff Richard and the Shadows. The song, written by Sid Tepper and Roy C. Bennett, is the title song to the film, “The Young Ones” and its soundtrack album.
The song is the 5th of the fourteen #1’s for Cliff and for The Shadows, their 7th of the twelve #1’s .
With advance orders of over 500,000, it was released in January 1962 on the Columbia (EMI) label and went straight to #1 in the UK Singles Chart. It was the first British single to do so since Elvis Presley’s, “It’s Now or Never” in November 1960. It has sold 1.06 million copies in the UK, and 2.6 million worldwide.
“The Young Ones”, was also included on Cliff Richard and the Shadows #1 EP Hits from the Young Ones.
This is his most famous song not about festivities and/or vacations, though this chart-topper is a celebration of sort – a celebration of feeling young!
It starts with some Shadows’ guitar, before Cliff comes in with his gossamer-light voice! Any song performed by The Shadows and sung by Cliff can’t fail to be of a certain standard. The lyrics might seem trite at times, but they are nevertheless always expressive.
And “The Young Ones”, does have its moments. The beat-band drum fills are classy while the guitars are reminiscent of Buddy Holly’s mid-tempo hits and the like.
And then there are the violins. Yes, Cliff’s gone orchestral. By the end the strings are swirling and cascading, drowning out Hank and Bruce’s guitars. One can see this as Cliff’s attempt to move away from the teeny-bop discs like, “Please Don’t Tease”.
And to that extent it’s indeed a very clever record. The lyrics are about being young; and yet the production is very grown-up. It is enough of a departure to alienate the screaming fifteen year-olds, and it’s also classy enough to get the matured listener captivated.
One can’t call it a sell-out in the same way that Elvis pranced about in Lederhosen singing, “Wooden Heart” but Cliff has never in terms of his chart-topping singles, managed to justify his tag as Britain’s foremost rock ‘n’ roller. From the opening chords of his first #1 he’s been planted firmly in the middle of the road. But something definitely clicked here, and his career kicked up a gear. Thanks to its role on the soundtrack to Cliff’s movie of the same name, “The Young Ones” that had built up a staggering 500,000 pre-orders before its release, meaning that it rocketed straight into the charts at #1, only the 3rd single (and the 1st single not released by a certain Elvis Presley) to do so. It remains his biggest seller in the UK.
And its legacy was such that twenty years later it became the theme tune to a BBC sitcom , “The Young Ones”, in which Rik Mayall played a lisping, Cliff fan. So in January of 1962, Cliff and The Shadows became the biggest pop-stars in the country, and they’d just scored their biggest hit with Cliff Richard in lead vocals, Hank Marvin , lead guitar, Bruce Welch, rhythm guitar, Jet Harris, bass guitar and Tony Meehan on the drums. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxNohANhJiA
6. The Next Time:
“The Next Time”, the song from the 1962 Album: “Summer Holiday”
Charted #1 in UK.
Released in November of 1962, this lightly orchestrated ballad was written by Buddy Kaye and Philip Springer; which was the A Side of the uptempo and stronger “Bachelor Boy”. Both the songs were used in the 1963 musical, “Summer Holiday” – a vehicle for Cliff.
On November 1962, Cliff Richard was a guest on the Clark ABC-TV weekday-afternoon program, “American Bandstand”.
At the time he didn’t have a record on the charts in the US or UK, but just under three weeks later in December of 1962 his song, “The Next Time” entered the United Kingdom’s Top 40 Singles chart at #18, four weeks later it would peak at #1 (for 3 weeks).
The two weeks prior to reaching #1 it was at #2, and then for the three weeks after going away from the top spot is was once again at #2, so for a total of eight consecutive weeks the song was either at #1 or at #2! The clip is from the movie “Summer Holiday” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndvKhV1zWH0
7. Summer Holiday:
“Summer Holiday”, song is from the 1963 album with the same title.
In 1961 Cliff Richard starred in his first major musical film, “The Young Ones”. The soundtrack, co-written by members of Richard’s backing group “The Shadows”, spawned several hits, including the title track.
“The Shadows”, rhythm guitarist Bruce Welch and drummer Brian Bennett wrote this sing-along song for Cliff Richard’s next movie, titled, “Summer Holiday”.
Welch recalled to The Daily Mail’s Weekend magazine: “We were in pantomime in Stockton-on-Tees when we got a synopsis of the next movie that we had to try and write some songs for. It said, “Four or five guys hire a London bus and drive through Europe on a summer holiday.” That was it.
Our drummer Brian Bennett was in the orchestra pit. I sang, ‘We’re all going on a summer holiday, no more working for a week or two.'” Brian wrote, ‘We’re going where the sun shines brightly. We’re going where the sea is blue.’ It took us about half an hour. We wrote songs that changed society. It was amazing.”
Cliff Richard sings the song in the movie while driving a London Transport double-decker bus that has been converted into a holiday caravan.
The Summer Holiday soundtrack topped the UK albums charts for 14 weeks despite being released in the winter. All three singles released from the album reached #1 on the UK charts; this song, the double A-side single “Bachelor Boy” and “The Next Time,” plus “Foot Tapper” (by The Shadows). Who can forget the song and the movie sequence? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxuapKdqIZw
This was one of the six songs Cliff Richard sang at the 1996 Wimbledon Championships when rain stopped the tennis match. He recalled to The Daily Telegraph that he started singing “Summer Holiday” as a joke and ended up being backed by past tennis stars Virginia Wade, Martina Navratilova, Hana Mandlíková, Pam Shriver, Liz Smylie, Gigi Fernández and Conchita Martínez, who were all in the Royal Box.
Dutch duo MC Miker G & Deejay Sven interpolated the chorus of “Summer Holiday” during their 1986 hit single “Holiday Rap.”
8. The Minute You’re Gone:
“The Minute You’re Gone” song from the 1965 Album: “Love Songs”, charted, #1 on the United Kingdom Music Charts in 1965.
It is a song written by Jimmy Gateley a Nashville, Tennessee based fiddle player and singer, for Sonny James in 1963. This song originally made to #95 in the US charts and #9 in the Country charts for Sonny James in 1963.
There must be something about working in Nashville that brings out something great in Cliff, as everytime he has recorded there, he has been successful, and especially at a time when The Beatles and the Rolling Stones were pretty much all over the charts.
Richard’s recording of the song had come about with the collaboration of Richard’s American label, Epic Records, which wanted to present Richard in the US with more American songs. Bob Morgan, the executive A&R producer from Epic met with Richard’s A&R producer Norrie Paramor and Richard to map out the recording plans and brought 50 songs of US origin for them to screen, out of which about 15 songs were selected and plans were made to record in New York, Nashville and Chicago according to the different styles of the songs selected, which ranged from pop-country, pure country, ballad and medium tempo. In Nashville, Richard recorded the singles, “The Minute You’re Gone”, with Billy Sherrill producing it with backing by the Nashville session musicians. The arrangement and conducting on “The Minute You’re Gone” was by Stan Applebaum. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuHAcEthfXk
“The Minute You’re Gone” provided Richard with his eighth UK #1 single. It was also his first UK chart topper he had recorded without “The Shadows” backing. However, at the corresponding time in the US, Epic curiously chose to release the soft ballad “Again” (another of his Nashville recorded tracks) as a single with “The Minute You’re Gone” as the B-side. Although “Again” received a 4 star rating from Billboard, it had no chart success.
Meanwhile, “The Minute You’re Gone” became another international hit for Richard outside the Americas.
This song originally made to #95 on the US pop charts and #9 on the Country chart for American country superstar Sonny James in 1963. It was the second UK #1, after Tab Hunter’s “Young Love,” to have been recorded earlier by Sonny James.
The backing vocals are actually provided by The Jordanaires, who were known as Elvis Presley’s backing singers and have backed up for several other famous singers.
This was Cliff’s 26th consecutive UK Top 10 hit, but the last in this run of consecutive Top 10s.
Although this reached #1 in Britain, it wasn’t released in America as at that time, The Beatles were taking off in the States and anyone who had a #1 in UK was guaranteed a Top 5 there, including, The Bachelors, who weren’t rock artists as such but had a huge hit. This song went on to become #1 in many countries.
9: When the Girl in your arms:
“When the Girl in Your Arms Is the Girl in Your Heart”, is a hit by Cliff Richard written by the songwriting team of Sid Tepper and Roy Bennett who would contribute fifteen songs to the Cliff Richard canon including his career record, “The Young Ones”. Produced by Richard’s regular producer Norrie Paramor, “When the Girl in Your Arms…” featured backing by the Norrie Paramor Orchestra.
Recorded in January 1961, it was not released until that October as the first advance single for the Cliff Richard movie vehicle, ” The Young Ones”. The track reached a chart peak of #3 in the UK and gave Richard a #1 hit in the Netherlands, Norway (for eight weeks) and South Africa. A #2 hit in Australia and Ireland, Richard’s, “When the Girl in Your Arms…” was also a hit in Belgium/Flemish Region (#4), Belgium/Wallonia (#10) and New Zealand (#7).
Although Cliff Richard had a deal for US distribution with ABC-Paramount – who in 1959 had released his only US hit (as of 1961) “Living Doll” (#30) – “When the Girl in Your Arms…” was not given a US release concurrent with its UK charting, as ABC-Parmamount felt it prudent to await the American opening of the track’s parent movie, ” The Young Ones”. Connie Francis heard Richard’s hit while visiting the UK and in an unusual move Francis – whose singles were typically remakes of traditional pop standards or original material, covered Richard’s UK hit in a 2 November 1961 session in New York City produced by Arnold Maxin with Don Costa as arranger/conductor. Entitled “When the Boy in Your Arms (Is the Boy in Your Heart)”, Francis’ version reached #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1962 and #8 in Cash Box. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQ6Ee5ep6z4
In light of the Cliff Richard original’s success in the UK, Francis version of “When the Boy in Your Arms (is the Boy in Your Heart)” did not have a parallel release in the UK. The lack of a late 1961 mainstream release by Francis had a strong negative impact on her UK career where previously her singles had equaled or exceeded their US impact.
Despite the success of Cliff Richard’s “When the Girl in Your Arms…” in Australia and New Zealand, Francis’ “When the Boy in Your Arms…” was released in these territories to reach #40 in Australia and become a Top Ten in New Zealand, the latter in March 1962 despite the success of the Cliff Richard original in New Zealand the previous month.
Cliff Richard was very unhappy at losing a potential US Top Ten breakthrough hit to the Connie Francis cover; his displeasure led his home label EMI to reassign the US rights for Richard’s releases to Bigtop Records as of February 1962.
Richard would remain absent from the US charts until August 1963: over the following twelve-month period he would make four appearances on the Billboard Hot 100 with only one of these releases – Epic was now Richard’s US label becoming a Top 40 hit. Except for a #99 appearance in 1968 with “Congratulations”, Richard was subsequently absent from the Hot 100 until 1976 when he had his first (of the 3) US Top 10 Hits.
10. Theme For A Dream:
“Theme For A Dream” is a song by Cliff Richard and the Shadows Released as a single in 1961, peaked at #3 on the UK Singles Chart and also received a silver disc for 2,50,000 sales.
It was the first song by Richard to feature a female chorus, sung by the Mike Sammes Singers. When Richard and the Shadows got the song they liked it, and did it because they felt it was a change of direction from their earlier recorded songs.
The single exceeded 200,000 advance sales in the UK.
The B-side, “Mumblin’ Mosie”, was written and originally recorded by American singer, Johnny Otis in 1960 and had been a minor hit for him on the Billboard Hot 100. Richard had previously recorded another of Otis’ songs.
Richard also recorded a German-language version of “Theme for a Dream”, titled, “Schön wie ein Traum”, in April 1961 with backing vocals by the Hansen Girls. It was released as a single in Germany in June 1961 with the B-side “Vreneli”, which was an original German song.
“Theme for a Dream” is an attractive tune with equally well harmonised lyrics which is catchy right from the start, and easy on the ear, which sets one humming.
With Cliff Richard in the lead vocals, Hank Marvin as the lead guitarist, Bruce Welch with the rhythm guitar, Jet Harris with the bass guitar, Tony Meehan on the drums, the Mike Sammes Singers gave the backing vocals for the song.
Cliff scored another two #1s in Europe with, “Theme For A Dream” and “When The Girl In Your Arms” songs.
The idea for the record, (the Dream EP)– which spotlights four of the finest ‘dream’ standards’ ever written, came from Cliff himself, and was prompted by the success of this “Theme For A Dream hit.”
“Theme For A Dream”, was the first Cliff Richard recording to feature a girl chorus, which was issued at a time when Cliff was about to embark on his first South African tour. He had just completed his first television series for ATV. It entered the Charts in March, 1961 (reaching # 2) and was followed shortly afterwards by another hit parade entry.
On February 24, 1961, Cliff’s 12th single, “Theme For A Dream/Mumblin’ Mosie”, was released and on June 30, 1961, “Theme For A Dream” topped the chart in New Zealand. In March 1963, American singer Bobby Vee covered Cliff’s “Theme For A Dream” on his new album. It is a song about a man who has found an angel and with this song, Richard’s music style changed quickly, and his Rock and Roll numbers soon gave way to softer pop numbers like “Living Doll” and “Theme For A Dream.”
It was a winsome pop ditty, all of a piece with the image of Cliff as a rock gentleman.
“Theme For A Dream” was co-written by Mort Garson, born in Saint John, New Brunswick who went on to prominently arrange for other artists including the Sandpipers on their 1966 hit, “Guantanamera”, and Glen Campbell’s 1968 hit, “By The Time I Get to Phoenix”. In 1974, he won a Grammy Award for his composition of ,“The Little Prince,” which accompanied Richard Burton’s narration of the book. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7XmStA-6_A
“Constantly (L’Edera)” single by Cliff Richard is an Italian language song, written by Saverio Seracini and Vincenzo D’Acquisto. The song premiered at the 8th Sanremo Music Festival in January 1958, being performed first by Nilla Pizzi and then Tonina Torrielli, with separate performances, and placing second in the competition, behind “Nel blu dipinto di blu” by Domenico Modugno and Johnny Dorelli. “L’Edera” was later recorded by several Italian artists, including Claudio Villa.
In 1964, the song was revived by Cliff Richard in an English language song with music based on L’Edera. The single, a non-album release officially titled “Constantly (L’Edera)” is more commonly known as just “Constantly”. The music is still credited to Saverio Seracini, who composed the music for “L’Edera”. The new English lyrics to the song were written by Michael Julien. The recording was arranged and conducted by Norrie Paramor.
Michael Julien was born in the UK who wrote a hit for Shirley Bassey in 1959 in England which peaked at #3. There were many other notable hits that Julien wrote for other singers.
Saverio Seracini was born in 1905 in Prato, Tuscany, Italy. He was an Italian composer, guitarist and conductor. In 1951 his composition “Grazie dei fiori” was sung by Nilla Pizzi at the Sanremo Music Festival in 1952, winning the competition. After the single was released, James Wynn wrote on the liner notes of a UK EP.
At a time when beat was all the rage, Cliff achieved yet another memorable milestone in his career when he soared up the best sellers with the smooth and tender, Constantly, a classy ballad on which he hit a peak of vocal and artistic perfection.
“Constantly” was a huge hit and was a chart topper in some 15 countries,
The last of Cliff Richard’s eight consecutive Top ten hits in Vancouver was in the fall of 1964 with “On The Beach”. He also had a Top Ten hit in Vancouver in 1966 with a cover of the Rolling Stones.
In the UK, Sir Cliff Richard had 26 of his first 28 singles from 1958, reach the Top Ten, which included a record of 23 Top Ten singles in a row, ending in the middle of 1965. The British single reached #4 in the UK Singles Chart apart from being an international hit. A totally soft, tender ballad, if ever there was one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ONxxAuBK20
12: Goodbye Sam, Hallo Samantha:
“Goodbye Sam, Hello Samantha” is a song by Cliff Richard, which was first recorded and released as a single in 1970.
Written by Peter Callander, Geoff Stephens, and Mitch Murray, it peaked at #6 on the UK Singles Chart . A prefect pop song for the era, it was a top 10 single in the UK and was released as Richard’s 50th single. However, Richard was at first reluctant to record the song when he first heard it, but was persuaded by his manager Peter Gormley, who told him, “You’ve got to take it away ’cause I’m sure it’s going to be a hit”. A German version, titled “Goodbye Sam (Das ist die Liebe)”, was also released in Germany. Thank God, Cliff listened to his manager.
The catchy pop song with a sing along tune was his 21st hit on the German Charts peaking at #11. It was his 40th UK top 10 hit in 12 years.
Many more versions of this song were performed by different artists and it became a chart topper in several countries as well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuakkRPQeeU
The program ended with my having covered Cliff’s career from 1950s to 1970. He actually changed tack subtly, moving from Rock and Roll to Pop and Gospel, in this period.
I thank Kiran Misra ji for the creative freedom that I enjoyed while doing the show. Take care and stay safe, folks. Stay away from the Chinese, virus et al.