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Cliff Richard
With over 50 albums and 120 singles to his name, and sales surpassing the cap of $300 million, Cliff Richard has earned gold and multi-platinum awards, received countless Lifetime Achievement Awards for the sum of his work and contribution to the music industry, notwithstanding all the Grammy nominations and wins. Robbie Williams, Peter Frampton… even Elton John all admit that if there hadn't been a Cliff Richard while they were growing up... they wouldn't be making music.

The Rebel Rouser Years: Early Rock N' Roll…
Born Harry Rodger Webb on the October 14, 1940 in Lucknow, India (yes, India!) the young Cliff Richard had a splendid time growing up in Lucknow, then Calcutta. When India gained independence the family chose to move to England. In 1948, when the boy was almost eight, they all boarded S.S. Ranghi and sailed to Tilbury. After a comfortable childhood in colonial India - where his father, Rodger Webb, worked on the railways - he and his sisters found the move to Cheshunt very jarring. Money was very tight: his father got a job in a radio factory, his mother on a production line manufacturing paint brushes and, when he left school at 16, he worked as a clerk in the Atlas Lamp works.
The young eighteen-year old was a big fan of the early rock & rollers like Elvis Presley and Bill Haley and in 1958, he decided to form his own group called The Planets, after Bill Haley's Comets. Webb formed the group with Norman Mitham and himself on guitars and Terry Smart on drums but they did not like the name and changed it to Cliff Richard And The Drifters. Norman Mitham was soon replaced by Ian Samwell and the group cut a demo record. The recording was heard by legendary record man Norrie Paramor who arranged for them to record a single. Move It, written by Ian Samwell and recorded with session musicians, is often regarded as Britain's first rock and roll record and the one that set the ball rolling for The Beatles' music to be accepted a few years later. With the success of Move It, the group was booked on a national tour with the Kalin Twins who pointed out that the name, The Drifters, would cause confusion with the American doo-wop group of that name. After the tour, the group was reformed as The Shadows, with Brian Marvin (who changed his name to Hank B. Marvin) and Bruce Welch (both on guitar) being added, Jet Harris replacing Ian Samwell on bass guitar and Tony Meehan replacing Terry Smart on drums. Hit after hit followed that summer of 1959 - the singles Living Doll and Travellin' Light both reached # 1 and his first albums Cliff and Cliff Sings made a big splash on the charts.

Cliff Richard At The Movies : 1959-1965 Cliff Richard and The Shadows then appeared in several movies, beginning with Serious Charge in 1959 and, more successfully, Expresso Bongo in the same year. The next year saw the tracks Please Don't Tease and I Love You; both reaching #1 and a string of top ten hits followed. Deciding to buy out his own movie contract in order to retain control over the content of his movies that was one of the smartest moves he'd made. For in the summer of 1961 twenty-year old Cliff Richard starred in a movie called The Young Ones. A box office record breaker when released, the movie made Cliff Richards a star and remains one of the most entertaining British films in the 1960s. Also known as Wonderful To Be Young, The Young Ones featured the hits The Girl In Your Arms and The Young Ones, as well as The Shadows' instrumental smash The Savage. The Soundtrack to the movie topped album charts, only to be displaced from the top spot with another Cliff Richard album (released to coincide with his 21st Birthday) called 21 Today. It also contained some of Cliff's biggest international hits including the well known Outsider and the groovy rock and roll ballad Catch Me. (Paul McCartney of The Beatles would later admit to 21 Today being one of their favourite records of that period!)

You can read the rest of our feature on Cliff Richard in the December 2004 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.

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