Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

A 'Peter Pan of pop' who has been an enduring hit maker for five decades

Sir Cliff Richard

Sir Cliff Richard has been one of the music world's most enduring stars, creating chart-topping singles across five separate decades.

Even 56 years after making his chart debut with Move It, with his then band The Drifters – later to become The Shadows – he continues to record and perform.

The perpetually youthful-looking star, now 73, has outlasted thousands of artists who have come and gone with his wholesome array of more than 130 pop hits including Summer Holiday, Wired For Sound and The Young Ones.

Sir Cliff's popularity was undimmed after his embrace of Christianity, setting him a world away from the wild behaviour of some rock stars, which appeared to have no visible effect on his colossal sales which have totalled more than 250 million records.

'The Peter Pan of pop' could even claim to be a favourite of royalty, numbering among only a few celebrities who were invited to a 10th anniversary memorial service in August 2007 to mark the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Born Harry Webb in Lucknow, India, he moved to Calcutta and then when the country gained independence in 1947, he headed to Britain.

After landing a recording deal in 1958, he was marketed as the British answer to Elvis Presley, with a similarly sheened quiff, but the early rock and roll of his initial hits was toned down by the release of his first number one single Living Doll.

He also embarked on a film career including The Young Ones and Summer Holiday which made him the UK's biggest box office attraction in 1962 and 1963.

Even as Beatlemania took hold, Sir Cliff was a familiar feature of the charts, although the gaps between his number ones increased.

His conversion to Christianity took place in 1964 and he considered quitting the music business but friends advised that he had no need to abandon his career.

He continued to record with The Shadows but also performed songs with a more religious feel and appeared at Billy Graham crusades.

In 1968 he was the UK's Eurovision Song Contest entrant, singing Congratulations, missing out on a win by a single point, but providing a hit across Europe.

The hits continued through to the end of the millennium with Christmas number ones a specialty. Although he enjoyed a close friendship with the tennis player turned broadcaster Sue Barker, he never married.

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz