I have very few heroes. Margaret Thatcher is clearly one, but beyond one other person I can’t immediately think of any more. Who’s that other person? Well if you’ve clicked on this article because of the headline, you’ve probably guessed already. Yup, Cliff Richard.
I suppose partly because I’ve done it myself a fair few times, I always admire people who constantly reinvent themselves. Cliff Richard has been in the music and entertainment business for 60 years. He’s on a Diamond Anniversary tour at the moment. During those 60 years he has achieved so much. Worldwide he’s sold more than 250 million records. He’s the only artist to have number ones in five different decades. He has total sales of over 21 million singles in the United Kingdom and is the third-top-selling artist in UK Singles Chart history, behind the Beatles and Elvis Presley.
He started off as Britain’s answer to Elvis. Sort of. He then recorded country songs, moved into gospel, did Eurovision (twice) and recorded one of the best ballads of all time, ‘Miss You Nights’ in 1975. Unbelievably it only charted at Number 15. Devil Woman followed and in 1979 he hit number one again with ‘We Don’t Talk Anymore’. A succession of other hits followed including a disco hit ‘I Just Don’t Have the Heart’. He was a pioneer of music videos way before MTV came on the scene. Who can forget his rollerskating in the ‘Wired for Sound’ video?! He played Heathcliff in the musical of the same name. In the 1990s and 2000s the hits dried up somewhat mainly because music radio stations disgracefully refused to play his songs. I suspect he’ll have the same issue with his new single ‘Reborn’.
I can’t remember when I was first aware of Cliff, but I suspect it was when he had a Saturday night TV show on BBC1, which ran from 1970 until 1976. I certainly remember his 1973 Eurovision entry, ‘Power to All Our Friends’.
I first went to a Cliff concert in March 1978 when he did a reunion concert at the London Palladium with The Shadows. I was 15. I remember being up in the Gods but enjoying every minute. I especially remember his rendition of ‘Devil Woman’ sending a shiver up my spine. Since then I’ve seen him at concerts at Wembley and the Albert Hall and elsewhere. The highlight is always ‘Miss You Nights’ which remains not just my favourite Cliff song, but also my favourite song by any artist of all time.
I defy anyone to listen to that song and not feel emotional.
I have every album and single Cliff Richard has ever released. On my iPhone I have more than 1500 of his songs. The strange thing is though, there aren’t that many Cliff songs that I would include in my top 100 songs of all time. ‘Miss you Nights’ and ‘Devil Woman’ would certainly make the grade, but not that many others. Cliff is a consistent 7 out of 10 performer. You know what you’re getting, whether it’s on an album or at a concert.
I met Cliff Richard once, at a reception in St James’s Palace. It would have been six or seven years ago. When I was introduced to him I couldn’t think of a single thing to say. I was completely tongue-tied. That didn’t happen when I met Her Majesty The Queen, but it did when I met Sir Cliff! Cilla Black was at the same event and she and I ended up chatting for ages!
The last four years have been agony for Cliff and it’s so good to see him emerging from this dark period in his life. He hit rock bottom when he was falsely accused of historical sex abuse against a minor. You know the story so I won’t repeat it here. I remember the day when the BBC disgracefully filmed his apartment being searched from a helicopter. And I also remember the day when the BBC admitted they had got it wrong. I didn’t hold back when I commented on it on LBC…
I’m writing this after seeing Cliff launching his new album on the Jonathan Ross Show. It’s called RISE UP and the first single is called REBORN. It’s not difficult to discern the message and I hope as many people as possible buy/download it and turn it into a hit.
If I was drawing up a list of ten people I’d love to do an hour long interview with before I hang up my microphone, Sir Cliff would definitely be on it.
Back in the 1970s, Cliff recorded and album titled ‘I’m No Hero’. Well, he is to me.