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Cliff: An Intimate Portrait of a Living Legend
Cliff CLIFF RICHARD HAS BEEN IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS for an incredible 50 years and it seems almost impossible to believe that, in 2008, this energetic, charismatic enter-tainer who has made such an impression upon generations of fans will have clocked up an amazing half century as the 'Prince of Pop'.

In celebration of this major landmark for Cliff, various tributes are being organised — including CDs, radio and television programmes, concerts — and this very comprehensive bio-graphy of the singer: Cliff: An Intimate Portrait of a Living Legend.

Written by Tim Ewbank and Stafford Hildred, this biography covers the years from the birth of the former Harry Webb in Lucknow, India — where he spent the first eight years of his life — through to his first hit at the age of 17 and his rapid rise to stardom as the most successful British recording artiste, to his relocation to a beautiful vineyard home in Portugal, where he lives with his friend and mentor, Father John McElynn.

Cliff: An Intimate Portrait of a Living Legend is just that — an intimate insight into Cliff Richard's life in fifteen chapters plus an epilogue with sixteen pages of colour and black-and-white photographs. Unflinching in its portrayal of one of Britain's most loved icons, this biography examines Cliff the musical star in ascendance. There are references
to and from his friends, his co-stars and his fellow musicians — words from those who know him and from Cliff himself. His romances are documented along with his remarkable musical achievements, his determination to succeed and the importance of his religious faith.

The young Harry Webb came from India to England with his parents, Dorothy and Rodger, and his younger sisters, Donna and Jacqueline. Arriving at Tilbury Docks with just 5, they ended up sharing one single room in a house in Carshalton, Surrey. Things were tough and Cliff remembers being hungry.

He recalls his parents coming to the aid of a hungry young Muslim boy and also their own Muslim servants in India as the days of the Raj came to an end in 1947. And how, at school in England, he encoun-tered prejudice and bullying at first hand and was left with a lifelong hatred of discrimination. He was to be appalled by the segregation he encountered in America's deep South while touring the USA and his tour of Africa was equally difficult.

Soon after the birth of Cliff's youngest sister Joan, the family moved into a Council house and their standard of living improved — Cliff became popular at school and was made a prefect. He and his father didn't always see eye-to-eye, but became much closer when Rodger was ill and Cliff appreciates the time they had together.

Cliff played truant from school to see Bill Hayley perform — an action that was to cost him his prefect's badge — but his greatest musical inspiration was Elvis Presley. At 14, he and his friends had heard the "electrifying" Elvis singing Heartbreak Hotel on the radio of a car they were passing. "If there hadn't been an Elvis," says Cliff generously, "there wouldn't have been a Cliff."

Cliff's shared his parents' interest in music — his father had played
a Banjo in a jazz band and his mother liked listening to music. While a child in India, Cliff sang in a church choir and when he was sixteen,
his father bought him his first guitar. "He was always singing around the house," says his sister Joan.

Cliff became part of a school vocal group, The Quintones, and went
on to be part of the scene Lonnie Donnegan described as "a musical stepping stone" — skiffle — when he joined The Dick Teague Skiffle Group in 1959 before forming The Drifters with a couple of friends, toting their equipment around on buses.

It was then that this remarkable performer had a stroke of luck. He
met John Foster, who managed The Drifters for a while and arranged for them to play at the 2 I's Coffee Bar in Soho. Cliff also attracted
the attention of Bruce Welch and Brian Rankin (Hank Marvin, who changed his name in honour of full-blooded Cherokee singer-songwriter Marvin Rainwater). John also got The Drifters photographed with Jerry Lee Lewis and arranged top billing at a talent contest, where Cliff first realised the effect he could have on girls. "Wow — I'm screamable!"
he said.

John then persuaded agent George Ganjou to listen to them and George passed a demo of Lawdy Miss Clawdy and Breathless to his good friend Norrie Paramor — an orchestra leader and record producer with EMI. Cliff got a recording contract and the rest of his story, as they say, is history.

Cliff Richard's life is packed into Cliff: An Intimate Portrait of a Living Legend — his songs, his tours, his films and his stage appearances such as the musical Heathcliff and Graham Greene's play The Potting Shed. He has sung on gospel tours and his 30th birthday was marked by his anti-war hit From A Distance.

The youngster who enjoyed watching mango seeds grow in soggy blotting paper has grown up to have his own vineyard. The seeds that were sown in his early years have blossomed and Cliff now has the versatility of a seasoned performer. In 1957, Harry Webb delivered a startling version of Elvis Presley's Heartbreak Hotel in a youth Club in Cheshunt.

Now with his own style, Cliff Richard has outsold both The Beatles and Elvis in British single sales. The BBC's 100 Greatest Britons placed him at number 56 and in 1995 he became the first rock star to be knighted. His songs have spent a total of 20 years in the charts but, despite his huge public persona, the man himself remains a reserved and private figure.

This book is essential reading for any of Cliff's fans wanting to mark his 50th anniversary in show business.

Cliff: An Intimate Portrait of a Living Legend by Tim Ewbank and Stafford Hildred is out now from Virgin Books at an RRP of 18.99. ISBN: 978 1 905264 07 0.

Tim Ewbank and Stafford Hildred are well known, best-selling authors
of Sir David Jason and Rod Stewart: The New Biography. Tim Ewbank has worked as a television correspondent for numerous newspapers, including The Daily Mail, and has covered assignments all over the world. Stafford Hildred worked on Fleet Street for many years, as well as founding the WordStar entertainment media group. They both live
in London.