Sir Cliff Richard OBE (born Harry Rodger Webb, 14 October 1940) is a British pop singer, musician, performer, actor and philanthropist. He has been a resident for most of his life in the United Kingdom, but in 2010 confirmed that he is now a citizen of Barbados. He divides his time between living in Barbados and at a vineyard property in Portugal. Richard has sold more than 250 million records worldwide. He has total sales of over 21 million singles in the United Kingdom and is the third-top-selling singles artist in the UK's history, behind the Beatles and Elvis Presley.
With his backing group the Shadows, Richard, originally positioned as a rebellious rock and roll singer in the style of Little Richard and Elvis Presley, dominated the British popular music scene in the pre-Beatles period of the late 1950s and early 1960s. His 1958 hit single "Move It" is often described as Britain's first authentic rock and roll song, and John Lennon once claimed that "before Cliff and the Shadows, there had been nothing worth listening to in British music." Increased focus on his Christian faith and subsequent softening of his music later led to a more middle of the road pop image, sometimes venturing into contemporary Christian music.
Over a career spanning more than 50 years, Richard has become a fixture of the British entertainment world, amassing many gold and platinum discs and awards, including three Brit Awards and two Ivor Novello Awards. He has had more than 130 singles, albums and EPs make the UK Top 20, more than any other artist and holds the record (with Elvis Presley) as the only act to make the UK singles charts in all of its first six decades (1950s-2000s). He has achieved 14 UK No. 1 singles (or 18, depending on the counting methodology) and is the only singer to have had a No. 1 single in the UK in 5 consecutive decades: the 1950s through to the 1990s. In 2008, he celebrated his 50th anniversary in music by releasing a greatest hits album, featuring the new track "Thank You for a Lifetime", which reached number 3 in the UK singles chart. In November 2013, Richard released his latest album, The Fabulous Rock 'n' Roll Songbook, which became the 100th album of his career.
Richard has never achieved the same impact in the United States despite eight US Top 40 singles, including the million-selling "Devil Woman" and "We Don't Talk Anymore", the latter becoming the first to reach the Billboard Hot 100's top 40 in the 1980s by a singer who had been in the top 40 in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. In Canada, Richard achieved moderate success in the 1980s with several albums reaching platinum status. He has remained a popular music, film, and television personality in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Northern Europe and Asia, and he retains a following in other countries.
1940-58: Childhood and adolescence:
Harry Rodger Webb was born in India at King George's Hospital, Victoria Street, in Lucknow, which was then part of British India (or the British Raj). His parents were Rodger Oscar Webb, a manager for a catering contractor that serviced the Indian Railways, and the former Dorothy Marie Dazely. Richard is primarily of English heritage, but he has one great-grandmother who was half Welsh and half Spanish, born of a Spanish great-great-grandmother named Emiline Joseph Rebeiro. Biographer Steve Turner attributed the Spanish ancestry for Richard and his mother's slightly dark complexions.
The Webb family lived in a modest home in Maqbara, near the main shopping centre of Hazratganj. Dorothy's mother served as the dormitory matron at the La Martiniere Girls' School. Richard has three sisters.
In 1948, following Indian independence, the family embarked on a three-week sea voyage to Tilbury, Essex, England aboard the SS Ranchi. The Webbs moved from comparative wealth in India, where they had servants and lived in a company-supplied flat at Howrah near Calcutta, to a semi-detached house in Carshalton. Harry Webb attended a local primary school, Stanley Park Juniors, in Carshalton. In 1949 his father obtained employment in the credit control office of Thorn Electrical Industries and the family moved in with other relatives in Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, where he attended Kings Road Junior Mixed Infants School until a three-bedroom council house in Cheshunt was allocated to them in 1950.
He then attended Cheshunt Secondary Modern School from 1952 to 1957. (The school was later renamed Riversmead School before being rebuilt and renamed Bishopslea School). As a member of the top stream, he stayed on beyond the minimum leaving age to take GCE Ordinary Level examinations and gained a pass in English literature. He then started work as a filing clerk for a company called Atlas Lamps. A development of retirement flats, Cliff Richard Court, has been named after him in Cheshunt.
Harry Webb became interested in skiffle. His father bought him a guitar at 16 and he formed the Quintones vocal group in 1957, before singing in the Dick Teague Skiffle Group.
1958-63: Success and stardom:
Harry Webb became lead singer of a rock and roll group, the Drifters (not to be confused with the US group of the same name). 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 Webb's musical hero Little Richard.
Before their first large-scale appearance, at the Regal Ballroom in Ripley, Derbyshire in 1958, they adopted the name "Cliff Richard and the Drifters". The four members were Harry Webb (now going under the stage name "Cliff Richard"), Ian "Sammy" Samwell on guitar, Terry Smart on drums and Norman Mitham on guitar. None of the other three played with the later and better known Shadows, although Samwell wrote songs for Richard's later career.
For his debut session, Norrie Paramor provided Richard with "Schoolboy Crush", a cover of an American record by Bobby Helms. Richard was permitted to record one of his own songs for the B-side; this was "Move It", written by the Drifters' Samwell on a number 715 Green Line bus on the way to Richard's house for a rehearsal. For the "Move It" session, Paramor used the session guitarist Ernie Shears on lead guitar and Frank Clark on bass.
There are various stories about why the A-side was replaced by the intended B-side. One is that Norrie Paramor's young daughter raved about the B-side; another was that influential TV producer Jack Good, who used the act for his TV show Oh Boy!, wanted the only song on his show to be "Move It". Richard was quoted as saying -
It's wonderful to be going on TV for the first time, but I feel so nervous that I don't know what to do. I shaved my sideburns off last night... Jack Good said it would make me look more original.
--NME, September 1958
The single went to No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart. John Lennon credited "Move It" as being the first British rock record.
In the early days, Richard was marketed as the British equivalent to Elvis Presley. Like previous British rockers such as Tommy Steele and Marty Wilde, Richard adopted Presley-like dress and hairstyle. In performance he struck a pose of rock attitude, rarely smiling or looking at the audience or camera. His late 1958 and early 1959 follow-up singles, "High Class Baby" and "Livin' Lovin' Doll", were followed by "Mean Streak", which carried a rocker's sense of speed and passion, and Lionel Bart's "Living Doll".
It was on "Living Doll" that the Drifters began to back Richard on record. It was his fifth record, and became his first No. 1 single. By that time the group's line-up had changed with the arrival of Jet Harris, Tony Meehan, Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch. The group was obliged to change its name to "The Shadows" after legal complications with the American group the Drifters as "Living Doll" entered the American top 40, licensed by ABC-Paramount. "Living Doll" was used in Richard's début film Serious Charge, but as a country standard, rather than a rock and roll standard.
The Shadows were not a typical backing group. They became contractually separate from Richard, and the group received no royalties for records backing Richard. In 1959, the Shadows (then still the Drifters) landed an EMI recording contract of their own, for independent recordings. That year, they released three singles, two of which featured double-sided vocals and one of which had instrumental A and B sides. They thereafter had several major hits, including five UK No. 1s. The band also continued to appear and record with Richard and wrote many of his hits. On more than one occasion, a Shadows' instrumental replaced a Richard song at the top of the British charts.
Richard's fifth single "Living Doll" triggered a softer, more relaxed, sound. Subsequent hits, the No. 1s "Travellin' Light" and "I Love You" and also "A Voice in the Wilderness" lifted from his film Expresso Bongo and "Theme for a Dream" cemented Richard's status as a mainstream pop entertainer along with contemporaries such as Adam Faith and Billy Fury. Throughout the early 1960s, his hits were consistently in the top five.
In 1961, EMI records organised Richard's 21st birthday party at its London headquarters in Manchester Square led by his producer Norrie Paramor. Photographs of the celebrations were incorporated into Richard's next album "21 Today" in which Tony Meehan joined in despite, then, having very recently left the Shadows to be replaced by Brian Bennett.
Typically, the Shadows closed the first half of the show with a 30-minute set of their own, then backed Richard on his show-closing 45-minute stint as exemplified by the retrospective CD album release of "Live at the ABC Kingston 1962". Tony Meehan and Jet Harris left the group in 1961 and 1962 respectively and later had their own chart successes for Decca. The Shadows added bass players Brian Locking (1962-63) and then John Rostill (1963-68) and took on Brian Bennett permanently on drums.
In the early days, particularly on EP and album releases, Richard sometimes recorded without the Shadows to cater to other styles with the Norrie Paramor Orchestra with Tony Meehan and then Brian Bennett as a session drummer. Even after the Beatles' rise he continued to achieve hits, although more often with an orchestra rather than the Shadows: a revival of "It's All in the Game" and "Constantly", a revived single of a well-known Italian hit. A session under the direction of Billy Sherrill in Nashville, Tennessee yielded two more top two hits: "The Minute You're Gone" and "Wind Me Up" in 1965.
Richard, and in particular the Shadows, never achieved star status in the United States. In 1960 they toured the United States and were well-received, but lacklustre support and distribution from a revolving door of American record labels proved an obstacle to long-term success there despite several chart records by Richard including the aforementioned "It's All in the Game" on Epic, via a renewed linking of the worldwide Columbia labels after Philips ended its distribution deal with CBS. To the Shadows' chagrin, Apache reached No. 1 in the US via a cover version by Danish guitarist Jorgen Ingmann which was almost unchanged from their worldwide hit. Richard and the band appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, which was crucial for the Beatles, but these performances did not help them gain sustained success in North America.
Richard and the Shadows appeared in six feature films including a debut in the 1959 film Serious Charge but most notably in The Young Ones, Summer Holiday, Wonderful Life and Finders Keepers. These films created their own genre known as the "Cliff Richard musical" and led to Richard being named the No. 1 cinema box office attraction in Britain for both 1962 and 1963 beating that of even James Bond. The title song of The Young Ones became his biggest-selling single in the United Kingdom, selling over one million copies in the UK. The irreverent 1980s TV sitcom The Young Ones took its name from Richard's 1962 film. In mid-1963, Cliff and the Shadows appeared for a season in Blackpool, where Richard had his portrait modelled by Victor Heyfron.
1964-75: Changing circumstances:
As with the other existing rock acts in Britain, Richard's career was affected by the advent of the Beatles and the Mersey sound in 1963 and 1964. He continued to have hits in the charts throughout the 1960s, albeit not at the level that he had enjoyed before. Nor did doors open to him in the US market; he was not considered part of the British Invasion, and despite four Hot 100 hits (including the top 25 "It's All in the Game") between August 1963 and August 1964, the American public had little awareness of him.
Richard's 1965 UK No. 12 hit "On My Word" ended a run of 23 consecutive top ten UK hits between "A Voice in the Wilderness" in 1960 to "The Minute You're Gone" in 1965, which, to date, is still a record number of consecutive top ten UK hits for a male artist. Richard continued having international hits, including 1967's "The Day I Met Marie", which reached No. 10 in the UK Singles Chart and No. 5 in the Australian charts.
Although baptised as an Anglican, Richard did not practise the faith in his early years. In 1964, he became an active Christian and his faith has become an important aspect of his life. Standing up publicly as a Christian affected his career in several ways. Initially, he believed that he should quit rock 'n roll, feeling he could no longer be the rocker who had been called a "crude exhibitionist" and "too sexy for TV". Richard intended at first to "reform his ways" and become a teacher, but Christian friends advised him not to abandon his career just because he had become an active Christian. Soon after, Richard re-emerged, performing with Christian groups and recording some Christian material. He still recorded secular songs with the Shadows, but devoted a lot of his time to Christian work, including appearances with the Billy Graham crusades. As time progressed, Richard balanced his faith and work, enabling him to remain one of the most popular singers in Britain as well as one of its best-known Christians.
Richard acted in the 1967 film Two a Penny, released by Billy Graham's World Wide Pictures, in which he played Jamie Hopkins, a young man who gets involved in drug dealing while questioning his life after his girlfriend changes her attitude. He released the live album Cliff in Japan in 1967.
In 1968, he sang the UK's entry in the Eurovision Song Contest: "Congratulations" by Bill Martin and Phil Coulter; it lost by one point to Spain's "La La La". According to John Kennedy O'Connor's The Eurovision Song Contest--The Official History, this was the closest result yet in the contest and Richard locked himself in the toilet to avoid the nerves of the voting. In May 2008 a Reuters news report claimed that voting in the competition had been fixed by the Spanish dictator leader, Francisco Franco, to ensure that the Spanish entry won, allowing them to host the contest the following year (1969). It is claimed that Spanish TVE television executives offered to buy programmes in exchange for votes. The story was widely covered and featured on UK Channel 4 News as a main story, with Jon Snow interviewing author and historian John Kennedy O'Connor about the matter. Eurovision later ended voting by national juries in a bid to eradicate such alleged scams. Nevertheless, "Congratulations" was a huge hit throughout Europe and Australia and yet another No. 1 in April 1968.
After the Shadows split in 1968, Richard continued to record.
During the 1970s, Richard took part in several television shows and fronted his own show It's Cliff Richard from 1970-1976. It starred Olivia Newton-John, Hank Marvin and Una Stubbs, and included A Song for Europe. He began 1970 by appearing live on the BBC's review of the sixties music scene, Pop Go The Sixties, which was broadcast across Britain and Europe on 31 December 1969. He performed "Bachelor Boy" with the Shadows and "Congratulations" solo. In 1972, he made a short BBC television comedy film called The Case with appearances from comedians and his first ever duets with a woman, Olivia Newton-John. He went on to release a double live album "Cliff Live in Japan 1972" featuring Newton-John.
His final acting role on the silver screen was in 1973 when he starred in the film Take Me High.
In 1973, he sang the British Eurovision entry "Power to All Our Friends"; the song finished third, close behind Luxembourg's "Tu Te Reconnaîtras" and Spain's "Eres Tú". This time, Richard took Valium to overcome his nerves and his manager was almost unable to wake him for the performance. Richard also hosted the BBC's qualifying heat for the Eurovision Song Contest, A Song for Europe, in 1970, 1971 and 1972 as part of his BBCTV variety series. He presented the Eurovision Song Contest Previews for the BBC in 1971 and 1972.
In 1975, he released the single "Honky Tonk Angel" produced by Hank Marvin and John Farrar, oblivious to its connotations or hidden meanings. As soon as Richard was notified that a "honky-tonk angel" was southern US slang for a prostitute, Richard ordered EMI to withdraw it. He refused to promote it despite making a video for it. EMI agreed to his demand despite positive sales. About 1,000 copies are known to exist on vinyl.
In 1976, the decision was made to repackage Richard as a "rock" artist. That year Bruce Welch relaunched Cliff's career and produced the landmark album I'm Nearly Famous, which included the successful but controversial guitar-driven track "Devil Woman" (Richard's first true hit in the US) and the ballad "Miss You Nights". Richard's fans were excited about this revival of a performer who had been a part of British rock from its early days. Many music names such as Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and Elton John were seen sporting I'm Nearly Famous badges, pleased that their boyhood idol was getting back into the heavier rock in which he had begun his career.
Notwithstanding this, Richard continued to release albums with contemporary Christian music content in parallel with his rock and pop albums, for example: Small Corners from 1978 contained the single "Yes He Lives". On 31 December 1976, he performed his latest single "Hey, Mr. Dream Maker" on BBC1's A Jubilee of Music, celebrating British pop music for Queen Elizabeth II's impending Silver Jubilee.
In 1979, Richard teamed up once again with producer Bruce Welch for the pop hit single "We Don't Talk Anymore", written by Alan Tarney, which hit No. 1 in the UK and No. 7 in the US. Bryan Ferry added hummed backing vocals to the song. The record made Richard the first act to reach the Hot 100's top 40 in the 1980s who had also been there in each of the three previous decades. The song was quickly added onto the end of his latest album Rock 'n' Roll Juvenile. It was his first time at the top of the UK singles chart in over ten years and the song would become his biggest-selling single worldwide, selling almost five million copies throughout the world. Later in 1979, Richard performed with Kate Bush at the London Symphony Orchestra's 75th anniversary celebration at the Royal Albert Hall.
At long last Richard had some extended success in the United States following "Devil Woman". The follow-up "Dreamin'" peaked at No. 10. His 1980 duet "Suddenly" with Olivia Newton-John, from the film Xanadu, peaked at No. 20. In the UK, "Dreamin'" peaked at No. 8 and "Carrie" reached No. 4. In a retrospective review of the single, AllMusic journalist Dave Thompson praised "Carrie" as being "an enthrallingly atmospheric number. One of the most electrifying of all Cliff Richard's recordings."
In 1980, Richard changed his name by deed poll from Harry Webb to Cliff Richard and received the O.B.E. from the Queen for services to music and charity.
The singles chart saw his most consistent period of top twenty hits since the mid-1960s, with "A Little in Love", "Dreamin'", and "Suddenly" on the Hot 100 at the same time at the end of 1980. Richard continued with a string of top ten albums, including I'm No Hero, Wired for Sound, Now You See Me, Now You Don't, and, marking his 25th year in show business, Silver.
In 1986, Richard reached No. 1 by teaming up with The Young Ones to re-record his smash hit "Living Doll" for the charity Comic Relief. Along with the song, the recording contained comedy dialogue between Richard and the Young Ones. That same year Richard opened in the West End as a rock musician called upon to defend Earth in a trial set in the Andromeda Galaxy in the multi-media Dave Clark musical Time. Two Richard singles, "She's So Beautiful", which reached No. 17 in the UK and "Born To Rock 'n Roll", were released respectively in 1985 and 1986 from the concept album recorded for Time.
In August 1986, Richard was involved in a five-car crash in torrential rain on the M4 motorway in West London. Richard's car was a write-off as another car swerved and braked hard. Richard hurt his back in the accident, but was not seriously injured in the crash. Police called for a cab from the accident scene so that he was able to perform that night in the "Time" musical. Richard said: "I'm lucky to be here" after the show. He said that his seatbelt prevented him from flying through the windscreen.
In October 1986, "All I Ask of You", a duet that Richard recorded with Sarah Brightman from the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical version of The Phantom of the Opera reached No. 3 in the UK singles chart. 1987 saw Richard record his Always Guaranteed album, which became his best selling album of all new material. It contained the two top-10 hit singles "My Pretty One" and "Some People".
Richard concluded his thirtieth year in music by achieving a UK Christmas No. 1 single in 1988 with "Mistletoe and Wine", while simultaneously holding the No. 1 positions on the album and video charts with the compilation Private Collection summing up his biggest hits from 1979-1988. "Mistletoe and Wine" was Richard's 99th UK single and spent four weeks at the top of the chart. It was the best-selling UK single of 1988, shifting 750,000 copies.
In 1989, Richard received the Brits highest award: "The Outstanding Contribution award". In June 1989, he filled London's Wembley Stadium for two nights with a spectacular titled "The Event" in front of a combined audience of 144,000 people.
Richard's 1989 UK No. 2 hit single "The Best of Me" received positive reviews from critics and established him as the first British artist to release 100 singles. "The Best of Me" was included in the top ten album Stronger, together with the UK No. 3 "Just Don't Have The Heart" and the 1990 UK No. 11 hit "From a Distance".
On 30 June 1990, Richard performed to an estimated 120,000 people at England's Knebworth Park as part of an all-star concert line-up that also included Paul McCartney, Phil Collins, Elton John and Tears for Fears. The concert in aid of charity was televised around the world and helped to raise $10.5 million for disabled children and young musicians.
Later in 1990, Richard scored his second UK Christmas No. 1 single with "Saviour's Day", a song written by Chris Eaton, which became Richard's 13th UK No. 1 single and his 100th top 40 hit. The video for "Saviour's Day" featured Richard singing on top of the limestone arch landmark of Durdle Door in Dorset.
Richard unsuccessfully bid for the Christmas No. 1 spot again with "We Should Be Together" and "Healing Love" in 1991 and 1993 respectively - the latter being taken from his No. 1 studio album Cliff Richard - The Album. The next few years saw Richard concentrate on bringing the musical Heathcliff to the stage.
Back in the UK during the next years and throughout the 1980s, Richard remained one of the best-known music artists in the country. In the space of several years he worked with Elton John, Mark Knopfler, Julian Lennon, Stevie Wonder, Phil Everly, Janet Jackson, Sheila Walsh and Van Morrison. Richard also reunited with Olivia Newton-John. Meanwhile, the Shadows later re-formed (and again split). They recorded on their own, but also reunited with Richard in 1978, 1984, 1989-90, 2004, and 2009 for some concerts.
On 17 June 1995, Richard was appointed a Knight Bachelor (and invested on 25 October 1995) and became the first rock star to be so honoured (Bob Geldof had received his honorary knighthood nine years earlier).
In 1996, he led the Wimbledon Centre Court crowd in singing during a rain delay when asked by Wimbledon officials to entertain the crowd.
In 1998, Richard demonstrated that radio stations were refusing to play his music by releasing his latest single "Can't Keep This Feeling In" on a white label under the pseudonym of Blacknight. The single was featured on playlists until the true artist was revealed.
In 1999, controversy again arose regarding radio stations refusing to play his releases when EMI, Richard's label since 1958, refused to release his song, "The Millennium Prayer", having judged that the song did not have commercial potential. Richard took it to an independent label, Papillon, which released the charity recording (in aid of Children's Promise). The single went on to top the UK chart for three weeks, becoming his fourteenth No.1 and the third-highest-selling single of his career.
Richard's next album, in 2001, was a covers project, Wanted, followed by another top ten album, Cliff at Christmas. The holiday album contained both new and older recordings, including the single "Santa's List", which reached No. 5 in 2003.
For his seven-day-long 60th birthday party Richard in conjunction with OK magazine hired a cruise boat to Monte Carlo and sailed with his top 80 (out of a possible 500) specially invited guests, mostly from British showbiz, to France. Among the guests were Olivia Newton-John, Shirley Bassey, Sue Barker, Gloria Hunniford, Tim Rice, Mike Read, Richard's three sisters, etc.
Richard went to Nashville, Tennessee for his next album project in 2004, employing a writers' conclave to give him the pick of all new songs for the album Something's Goin' On. It was another top-10 album, and produced three UK top-20 singles: "Something's Goin' On", "I Cannot Give You My Love", with Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees, and "What Car".
On 14 June 2004, Richard joined the Shadows on-stage at the London Palladium. The Shadows had decided to re-form for another tour of the UK. It was not to be their last tour together though, as they would re-form once again for a final tour five years later in 2009.
Two's Company, an album of duets released in 2006, was another top-10 success for Richard and included newly recorded material with Brian May, Dionne Warwick, Anne Murray, Barry Gibb and Daniel O'Donnell, plus some previously recorded duets with artists such as Phil Everly, Elton John and Olivia Newton-John. Two's Company was released to coincide with the UK leg of his latest world tour, "Here and Now", which included lesser known songs such as "My Kinda Life", "How Did She Get Here", "Hey Mr. Dream Maker", "For Life", "A Matter of Moments", "When The Girl in Your Arms" and the Christmas single "21st Century Christmas", which debuted at No. 2 on the UK singles chart.
Another compilation album, Love... The Album was released on 12 November 2007. Like Two's Company before it, this album includes both previously released material and newly recorded songs, namely "Waiting for a Girl Like You", "When You Say Nothing at All", "All Out of Love", "If You're Not the One" and "When I Need You" (the last was released as a single, reaching No. 38; the album peaked at No. 13).
2008-present: 50th anniversary and The Shadows reunion:
2008, Richard's 51st year in the music business saw the release of the eight-CD box set And They Said It Wouldn't Last (My 50 Years in Music). In September, a single celebrating his 50 years in pop music, titled "Thank You for a Lifetime" was released. On 14 September 2008 it reached No. 3 on the UK music charts.
On 11 November 2008, Richard's official website announced that Cliff and the Shadows would reunite to celebrate their 50th anniversary in the music business. A month later they performed at the Royal Variety Performance. In 2009, Cliff and the Shadows brought their partnership to an end with the "Golden Anniversary concert tour of the UK".
A new album by Richard and the Shadows was released in September 2009. Titled Reunited, It was their first studio project in forty years. The 28 tracks recorded comprise 25 re-recordings of their earlier work, with three "new" tracks, originally from that era (and earlier), the single "Singing the Blues", along with Eddie Cochran's "C'mon Everybody" and the Frankie Ford hit "Sea Cruise". The album charted at No. 6 in the UK charts in its opening week and peaked at No. 4. The reunion tour continued into Europe in 2010. In June 2009, it was reported by Sound Kitchen Studios in Nashville that Richard was to return there shortly to record a new album of original recordings of jazz songs. He was to record fourteen tracks in a week.
Richard performed "Congratulations" at the 70th birthday celebrations of Queen Margrethe II in Denmark on 13 April 2010.
On 14 October 2010, Richard celebrated his 70th birthday and to mark the occasion, he performed a series of six concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, London. To accompany the concerts, a new album of cover versions of swing standards, Bold as Brass, was released on 11 October.
After a week of promotion, Richard flew out to rehearse for the German Night of the Proms concerts in Belgium at the end of October. He made a surprise appearance at the Antwerp concert of the Night of the Proms on Thursday, 28 October 2010 and sang "We Don't Talk Anymore" to a great reaction from the surprised 20,000 fans at Sportpaleis Antwerp. In all, he toured 12 German cities in November and December 2010, during the Night of the Proms concerts, as the headline act. The total of 18 concerts were attended by over 300,000 fans. Richard performed a selection of hits and tracks from the Bold As Brass album.
In November 2010, he achieved his third consecutive UK No. 1 music DVD in three years with the DVD release of Bold as Brass.
In October 2011, Richard released his Soulicious album, containing duets with American soul singers including Percy Sledge, Ashford and Simpson, Roberta Flack, Freda Payne and Candi Staton. The album was produced by Lamont Dozier and was supported by a short UK arena tour. Soulicious became Richard's 41st top-10 UK hit album.
He was among the performers at the Diamond Jubilee concert held outside Buckingham Palace on 4 June 2012.
On 30 June 2012, Richard helped to carry the Olympic torch from Derby to Birmingham as part of the torch relay for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Richard said that his run with the Olympic torch would be one of his top-10 memories.
In November 2013, Richard released the 100th album of his career, The Fabulous Rock 'n' Roll Songbook. To that point Richard had released 47 studio albums, 35 compilations, 11 live albums and 7 film soundtracks.
Richard was scheduled to open for Morrissey at a live concert at New York's 19,000-capacity Barclays Center on 21 June 2014. Morrissey said that he was "honoured and thrilled" to have Richard on the bill. It was reported on 16 June 2014 that Morrissey had cancelled the concert after collapsing with an "acute fever". Richard announced that he would stage a free show for fans in New York on the same night the cancelled concert was due to take place.
In October 2014, Richard announced that he will perform on tour in 2015 to mark his 75th birthday. Richard will play eleven concerts across seven cities in the UK, including four at London's Royal Albert Hall.
Lack of commercial support and music industry criticism:
Richard has openly complained about the lack of commercial support he receives from radio stations and record labels. He spoke about this on The Alan Titchmarsh Show on ITV in December 2007, pointing out that while new bands needed airplay for promotion and sales, long-established artists such as himself also relied upon airplay for the same reasons. He also noted that 1980s radio stations did play his records and that this went some way to help sales and maintain his media presence. In the BBC Radio 2 documentary Cliff - Take Another Look, he pointed out that many documentaries charting the history of British music (e.g. I'm in a Rock 'n' Roll Band!) fail to mention him (or the Shadows).
In 1998, Chris Evans, the then breakfast show host on Virgin Radio, vowed he would never again play a record by Richard, stating that he was "too old". In June 2004, British disc jockey Tony Blackburn was suspended from his radio job at Classic Gold Digital for playing records by Richard against station policy. The head of programmes, Paul Baker, sent an e-mail to Blackburn stating that Richard "doesn't match our brand values. He's not on the playlist, and you must stop playing him." On Blackburn's next morning breakfast show, he read a print-out of the e-mail live on air to the show's 400,000 listeners and went on to play two songs by Richard. Classic Gold managing director John Baish later confirmed Blackburn's suspension from the show.
In 2011, digital station Absolute Radio '60s, dedicated to playing popular music from the 1960s, announced they would not be playing any of Richard's records because they claimed they did not fit "the cool sound... we're trying to create". DJ Pete Mitchell claimed "Timeless acts of the decade that remain relevant today are the Beatles, the Stones, the Doors and the Who, not Sir Cliff." Richard responded to this by saying: "They're lying to themselves, and more importantly they're lying to the public."
Richard has spoken of his irritation about other stars who are praised after taking drugs. In 2009, Richard said he was the "most radical rock-and-roll singer Britain has ever seen" as he did not indulge in drugs or sexual promiscuity.
Richard has criticised the music industry for encouraging artists to court controversy. In November 2013, he said: "The music industry has changed drastically and that damages young artists. This industry can be very destructive." Richard expressed concern about the sexually explicit public image of singer Miley Cyrus, following controversy surrounding a semi-naked video for her song "Wrecking Ball". In the 1970s, Richard said that he was disturbed by the visual imagery and mock horror of singer Alice Cooper. In 1997, Richard said of the rock band Oasis: "It's just a shame that part of what gives them their kick is their self-destructive impulse."
In 2011, Sam Leith, a journalist from The Guardian, wrote of Richard's lack of commercial support among radio stations: "His uncompromising Christianity, his clean-living ways, and his connoisseurship of the fruits of his Portuguese winery have made him an object of incomprehension, even ridicule, for the uncultured, alcopop-drinking younger generation."
In December 2013, Richard said that he felt two of his singles, "Mistletoe and Wine" and "The Millennium Prayer", had created a negative reaction against him. He said: "Airplay is vital for single hits. The only way I can have a fair competition is if your records are on the radio. There is an ageism in the radio industry. If you ask me to record a new song, I'm not sure it would get the support it needs."
Author and rock music critic Tony Parsons has said: "If you don't like at least some Cliff Richard, then you don't like pop music". Musician Sting has also defended Richard, stating: "Cliff Richard is in my opinion one of Britain's finest singers technically and emotionally."
Richard's father, Rodger Webb, died in 1961, aged 56. The death of his father at a young age greatly impacted Richard. He later said: "My father died very young. He missed the best parts of my career. When my father was sick, we became very close." Richard's mother, Dorothy, died in October 2007, aged 87, after a decade with Alzheimer's disease. In a 2006 interview, he spoke about the difficulties he and his sisters had in dealing with their mother's condition.
Richard is a lifelong bachelor. In a three-page letter written in October 1961 to "his first serious girlfriend", Australian dancer Delia Wicks, made public in April 2010 after her death from cancer, Richard writes, "Being a pop singer I have to give up one priceless thing - the right to any lasting relationship with any special girl. I've just had to make, probably, one of the biggest decisions I'm ever going to make and I'm hoping that it won't hurt you too much." The couple had been dating for 18 months. In the letter he goes on to say, "I couldn't give up my career, besides the fact that my mother and sisters, since my father's death, rely on me completely. I have showbiz in my blood now and I would be lost without it." Richard urged her to "find someone who is free to love you as you deserve to be loved" and who "is able to marry you".
After Delia Wicks died in 2010, aged 71, her brother Graham Wicks said that she had been "devastated" by Richard's decision to end their relationship, describing Richard as "a very pleasant man".
At the age of 22, a year after his relationship with Delia Wicks ended, Richard had a brief romance with the actress Una Stubbs. Later in the 1960s, Richard considered marriage to the dancer Jackie Irving. Richard described Irving as "utterly beautiful" and says for a time they were "inseparable".
In his autobiography, Richard stressed that "sex is not one of the things that drives me", but he also wrote of his seduction by Carol Costa, who at the time was the estranged wife of Jet Harris.
In the 1980s, Richard considered asking Sue Barker, a former French Open tennis champion and Wimbledon semi-finalist, if she would agree to marry him. In 2008, Richard said of his relationship with Barker: "I seriously contemplated asking her to marry me, but in the end I realised that I didn't love her quite enough to commit the rest of my life to her."
Richard first met Barker in 1982, when she was aged 25. Their romance attracted considerable media attention after Richard flew to Denmark to watch her play in a tennis match and they were later photographed cuddling and holding hands at Wimbledon. In an interview in February 1983, Richard spoke of the possibility of marriage with her. He said: "I'm seeing Sue, the only girl I want to see at the moment and if marriage comes on the horizon, I shall relish it." In September 1983, Richard said that he had no immediate plans to marry Barker. He said: "It's not vital to get married and it's not vital to be a father. But I would like to settle down and have a family one day." In July 1984, Barker said of her romance with Richard: "I love him, he's great and I'm sure we love each other."
In 1986, after Richard's romance with Barker had ended and she began dating tennis player Stephen Shaw, Richard said that he was still a friend of Barker. He said: "We have a mutual respect for each other and that means a lot to me."
When later asked why he has never married, Richard said: "I've had a few false alarms. I've been in love, but marriage is a big commitment and being an artist consumes a great deal of time." He said that in the early 1970s he was in love with the singer and actress Olivia Newton-John. Richard said: "At the time when I and many of us were in love with Olivia she was engaged to someone else. I'm afraid I lost the chance."
In 1988, Richard's nephew Philip Harrison spent the first four months of his life in a children's hospital suffering from serious breathing problems. Richard later helped to raise money for the hospital in east London and said that his nephew "had a terrible time but the hospital saved his life."
Although he has never married, Richard has rarely lived alone. For many years he shared his main home with his charity and promotion schedules manager, Bill Latham, and Latham's mother. In 1982, Richard described them as his "second family". Latham's girlfriend, Jill, also lived at the house in Weybridge, Surrey, with them for a time. In 1993, Bill Latham said of Richard's bachelor status: "His freedom has meant that he has been able to do much more than if he had a family. He always goes the extra mile. If he was to have a relationship, he would give it everything. So because his commitments have been his career, his faith, and more latterly, tennis, he has given himself wholeheartedly to those three activities."
Richard often declines discussion about close relationships and when asked about suggestions that he may be homosexual has stated categorically that he is not. When the suggestions were first put to him in the late 1970s, Richard responded by saying: "It's untrue. People are very unfair with their criticism and their judgements. I've had girlfriends. But people seem to think that if a bloke doesn't sleep around he must be gay. Marriage is a very special thing to me. I'm certainly not going to do it just to make other people feel satisfied." In 1986, Richard said that rumours about him being homosexual had previously been "very painful" to him.
When asked in 1992 if he had ever considered the possibility that he might be gay, he responded: "No." Richard said: "Even if I got married tomorrow there would be a group of people who would believe what they wanted to believe. All that counts is what your family and friends know and they all trust and respect me. What the people outside think, I have no control over." Later in 1996, Richard said: "I'm aware of the rumours, but I am not gay." In 1997, he said: "People who are single shouldn't have to be second-class citizens - we needn't be embarrassed or feel guilty about it, we all have a role to play."
Richard said that his faith in God was tested in 1999 after the murder of his close friend, the British television presenter Jill Dando. He said: "I was really angry with God. It shook me rigid that someone as beautiful, talented and harmless could have been killed." Richard said that Dando had many likeable qualities and described her as "a very genuine person". He said of Dando's murder: "It is very difficult to understand and I find it all very confusing." He attended her funeral in May 1999 in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.
Richard has spoken of his friendship with John McElynn, an American former missionary whom Richard met in 2001 on a visit to New York. In 2008, Richard said: "John now spends most of his time looking after my properties, which means I don't have to. John and I have over time struck up a close friendship. He has also become a companion, which is great because I don't like living alone, even now."
In an interview with David Frost in 2002, Richard said that his many good friends have prevented him from feeling lonely and he has always got someone he can talk to. Richard has been a family friend of the Northern Irish broadcaster Gloria Hunniford for over 40 years. When Hunniford's daughter Caron Keating was diagnosed with breast cancer and chose to keep her illness private from the public, Richard was among a small close circle of friends who knew of Keating's cancer. When Keating died in April 2004, Richard attended her funeral in Kent and performed his song "Miss You Nights" in tribute to her.
In 2006, Richard received a Portuguese Order in which he was appointed Commander of the Order of Prince Henry (ComIH), this in recognition of his 40 years of personal and business involvement in that country. Richard finished No. 56 in the 2002 100 Greatest Britons list, sponsored by the BBC and voted for by the public.
In his 2008 autobiography, Richard wrote that his views on certain issues are less judgemental than when he was younger. He called on the Church of England to affirm people's commitment in same-sex marriage. He writes: "In the end, I believe, people are going to be judged for what they are. It seems to me that commitment is the issue, and if anyone comes to me and says: 'This is my partner - we are committed to each other,' then I don't care what their sexuality is. I'm not going to judge - I'll leave that to God."
In 2009, the British media reported on a growing friendship between Richard and Cilla Black. The Daily Telegraph said that Richard and Black looked at properties together in Miami and were regularly seen together in Barbados, where they both own villas. Richard and Black reportedly enjoyed each other's company dining together in Marbella and watching tennis in the Royal Box at Wimbledon.
The official party celebrating Richard's 70th birthday was held on 23 October 2010, with guests including Cilla Black, Elaine Paige and Daniel O'Donnell.
In 2010, Richard confirmed that he is no longer a resident of the United Kingdom and had been granted citizenship by Barbados. He said: "I'm officially a non-resident of the UK, although I will always be British and proud of it." He currently divides his time between living in Barbados and at a vineyard property in Portugal. He has retained a British property in Sunningdale, Berkshire.
When asked in February 2013 if he has regrets about not starting a family, Richard said that if he had been married with children he could not have devoted so much time to his career. He said: "My three sisters have children, and it's been wonderful to watch them grow up, get married and start families of their own. I've made sure I've always played a part in their lives. So while I think I would have been a good father, I've given myself to my family and I wouldn't have it any other way. My 'freedom' allows me to continue my career. Had I been married, with children, I wouldn't be able to do what I do now."
Nationwide Festival of Light:
In 1971, Richard was a leading supporter of the Nationwide Festival of Light, a movement formed by British Christians who were concerned about the development of the permissive society. Richard joined public figures such as Malcolm Muggeridge, Mary Whitehouse and Bishop Trevor Huddleston to demonstrate in London for "love and family life" and against what the organisers called "pornography and moral pollution". Muggeridge claimed that the media was "largely in the hands of those who favour a slide into decadence and Godlessness."
One of the targets for the Festival of Light's campaign was the growth of sexually explicit films. Richard was one of approximately 30,000 people who gathered at London's Trafalgar Square for a demonstration. One focus of their protest was against the Swedish sex education film Language of Love, which was showing at a nearby cinema.
Since March 1966, Richard has followed the practice of giving away at least a tenth of his income to charity. Richard has stated that two biblical principles have guided him in how to use his money. He said: "Firstly, it was the love of money (not money itself) that was the root of all evil. Secondly, to be good and responsible stewards of what was entrusted to us." In 1990, Richard said: "Those of us who have something to offer have to be prepared to give all the time."
For over 40 years Richard has been a supporter of Tearfund, a Christian charity that aims to tackle poverty in many countries across the world. He has made overseas visits to see their work in Uganda, Bangladesh and Brazil. Richard has said: "Playing a part in relieving poverty is, as I see it, the responsibility of us all."
Richard has donated to a leading dementia research charity, Alzheimer's Research UK. He has helped to raise funds and awareness of the disease by speaking publicly about his mother's condition.
Richard has also supported numerous UK charities over many years through the Cliff Richard Charitable Trust, both through donations and by making personal visits to schools, churches, hospitals and homes for special needs children. Richard's passion for tennis, which was encouraged by his former girlfriend Sue Barker, also led him in 1991 to establish the Cliff Richard Tennis Foundation. The charity has encouraged thousands of primary schools in the UK to introduce the sport, with over 200,000 children taking part in the tennis sessions which tour the country. The Foundation has since become part of the charitable wing of the Lawn Tennis Association.
The Cliff Richard Charitable Trust gives grants on a quarterly basis, with about 50 different UK registered charities benefiting each time. Richard's Trust mainly donates to charities working in medical research, with children and the elderly, and for those involved in helping people with disabilities.
Scottish independence referendum:
Richard was one of 200 public figures, including singers Mick Jagger, Bryan Ferry, and Sting, who asked the people of Scotland to vote against independence in the Scottish independence referendum, 2014.
Richard was involved in a campaign to extend copyright from 50 to 95 years, and extend the number of years on which a musician can receive royalties. The campaign was unsuccessful and the copyright on many of Richard's early recordings expired in 2008.
2014 property search and sex assault allegation:
In August 2014, in response to a complaint to the Metropolitan Police's Operation Yewtree (set up in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal), Richard's apartment in Berkshire was searched by South Yorkshire Police in relation to an alleged historical sexual assault at an appearance by the American preacher Billy Graham in Sheffield in 1985. Richard was in Portugal at the time of the search; no-one was arrested at the property. Richard said the allegation was "completely false" and complained that the press appeared to have been given advance notice that his home in Berkshire was to be searched - whereas he had not been. He later said that he had been aware of allegations against him online for many months, but "chose not to dignify the false allegations with a response". The BBC were criticised for their coverage of the search; former Attorney General Dominic Grieve accused the police of having a "collusive relationship" with the BBC.
Following the search of Richard's apartment, the Northern Irish broadcaster Gloria Hunniford was among friends who spoke publicly in support of him. Richard's former manager Bill Latham denounced the allegations as "fiction". Richard's former tour manager Dave Bryce dismissed the allegations as "nonsense", adding that Richard is "very kind-hearted". Police initially denied leaking details of the property search, but South Yorkshire Police later confirmed that they had been "working with a media outlet" about the investigation. Writing in The Independent, the barrister and broadcaster Geoffrey Robertson called for an independent inquiry into the police operation.
In August 2014, The Sunday Times reported that senior law figures said the police search of Richard's home may have been illegal because officers failed to tell a court about a deal with the BBC to televise it. South Yorkshire police confirmed that the magistrate who approved a search warrant for Richard's apartment was not told about the force's agreement with the broadcaster. The former director of public prosecutions Lord Macdonald of River Glaven, QC, criticised the police force for its "completely disreputable conduct" and said its action could make the warrant unlawful. Richard pulled out of a visit to the US Open tennis championships, turned down the freedom of his adopted Portuguese home city of Albufeira and cancelled a scheduled appearance at Coventry Cathedral because he did not want the event to be "overshadowed by the false allegation". He subsequently returned to the UK and voluntarily met members of South Yorkshire Police by appointment. He was not arrested or charged.
On 2 September 2014, David Crompton, the chief constable of South Yorkshire police, was questioned by MPs from the House of Commons home affairs select committee for doing a controversial deal with the BBC. Crompton publicly apologised to Richard.Keith Vaz, who chairs the select committee, told Crompton: "We have been amazed at the sheer incompetence of the way this has been dealt with.". On 4 September 2014, Richard reiterated his innocence over the allegation. He said: "I fully intend to clear my name. Just to be absolutely clear, the allegation is completely false and I will continue to cooperate with the police should they wish to speak to me again." A home affairs select committee report was published in October 2014 strongly criticising South Yorkshire Police, and Richard was reported by The New Zealand Herald as considering legal action.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license