Intimate Portrait of a Living Legend
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
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
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!"
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