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Music  >  Cliff Richard
Cliff Richard
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Having moved to India to help build a system of railways, Rodger Webb married Dorothy Dazely in 1939 and the following year the couple had a baby boy - Harry Rodger Webb.

Born in The King's English Hospital in Lucknow, Harry was educated in Howrah, until his family moved to England in 1948, following Home Rule in India.

After a privileged life in India, the Webbs faced poverty, and were forced to sleep on mattresses at the houses of various relatives. In 1951 they were given a council house in Chesthunt, and after just failing the eleven-plus exam, Harry was enrolled in the newly built Cheshunt County Secondary School.

After being inspired by the music of Elvis, Harry and a group of school friends formed a group, 'The Quintones', and performed at their local Youth Club.

For his 16th birthday, Harry got his first guitar, going on to form ‘The Drifters’ in 1958, with Terry Smart and Norman Mitham. After a number of low-key London gigs, Ian Samwell joined the band and they recorded their first demo, covers of Elvis' ‘Lawdy Miss Clawdy’ and Jerry Lee Lewis' ‘Breathless’.

After recording their first hit single, ‘Schoolboy Crush/Move It’, they were quickly signed by Columbia. The song hit No.2 in the British charts, and went on to sell over a million copies.

Now going under the name Cliff Richard, an appearance on the TV show ‘Oh Boy!’ catapulted Cliff to sex symbol status.

In 1958, Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch joined 'The Drifters', and by 1959 the band changed their name to ‘The Shadows’. It was also around this time that Cliff made his film debut in ‘Serious Charge’. The film produced the hit ‘Living Doll’, Cliff’s first number one hit.

Cliff's second movie, ‘Expresso Bongo’, was more successful and critically acclaimed. As the albums and hit singles rolled out, Cliff Richard was building a devoted fan base that would secure his chart success some 40 years later.

In 1961, Cliff starred in ‘The Young Ones’, and the accompanying single shot straight into number one in the charts. The second film with Cliff in the leading role was another musical, ‘Summer Holiday’, which saw him star alongside Una Stubbs.

1968 saw the last album recorded by Cliff with 'The Shadows', and Cliff went on to tour with his own gospel album. In 1970, Cliff launched his first television show, featuring a mix of music and comedy. In the same year, he made his stage debut in Peter Shaffer's ‘Five Finger Exercise’, a play focusing on a 'deep friendship' between a student and his tutor. The play was originally considered controversial for its veiled homosexual themes but despite this, reviews were favourable.

One of the most talked about aspects of Cliff's life is his relationships. A much publicised relationship with tennis star Sue Barker in 1981 ended within a year. Cliff has also been linked with actress Una Stubbs.

In 1986 Cliff and The Young Ones re-recorded ‘Living Doll’ and made it to the top of the charts. In the same year he appeared in the West End musical ‘Time’, and by the end of the decade he had released his highest selling album of all time, 'Private Collection', which went on to be certified four-times platinum in the UK alone!

‘Mistletoe & Wine’ become Cliff's first Christmas-themed No.1 in 1988 and by 1989 Cliff became the first British artist to release 100 singles. Cliff continued to tour and break records throughout the 1990’s, and in 1995 he became Sir Cliff Richard - the first pop star to be honoured with a full Knighthood.

Despite selling records by the lorry load, Cliff ran into trouble getting airplay from various radio stations, including a ban by the BBC for his track ‘Misunderstood Man’, which was deemed “too raucous” for listeners.

Perhaps the most significant project for Cliff in the nineties was the fulfilment of his lifelong dream to play the character of Heathcliff in Emily Bronte's masterpiece, 'Wuthering Heights'. The show was a runaway success, and gave Cliff his highest selling video ever, topping the UK video charts for two months upon its 1998 release.

In 1999 ‘The Millennium Prayer’ reached number one, regardless of no airplay and scathing reviews. Despite a lack of support in the press, Cliff continues to make music and his recent album and DVD release cracked the top twenty.

Cliff now divides his time between his homes in the UK, Barbados and Portugal, where he has taken to making his own wine.

Sir Cliff is number 56 in the 2002 100 Greatest Britons list, sponsored by the BBC and voted for by the public. Adored especially by middle-aged women, many of whom camp out for his concert tickets, he has become a fixture of the British entertainment world and of British public life, an icon, and all the more because of the mostly British scope of his success.

The Ultimate Pop Star, a Channel 4 programme broadcast in 2004, revealed that Cliff Richard had sold more singles in the UK than any other music artist, ahead of the Beatles in second place and Elvis Presley in third.

Sir Cliff has become joint owner of the Arora International Hotel in Manchester, which opened in June 2004.

After having not performed as Cliff and the Shadows since 1989/1990, Cliff joined the Shadows on stage on June 14, 2004, at the London Palladium. The Shadows had decided to re-form for one final tour of the UK, with this concert heralded as their final ever concert as the Shadows.

Sir Cliff spends much of his time at a house of his in Barbados, and has even lent it to British Prime Minister Tony Blair at times. NETQUOTEVAR:3

Britons are always surprised that he is a virtual unknown in America, because during the height of his success in the UK he enjoyed Elvis-like fame.

Cliff is currently working on an album of duets, including material with Dionne Warwick, LeAnn Rimes, Barry Gibb and Daniel O'Donnell.

Cliff showed his image isn't entirely clean-cut recently when he told Gordon Ramsay to 'F*ck off' on The F-Word. Ramsay had decided to see if he could get Cliff to swear on live TV, and only after some cajoling did Cliff relent.
Cliff Richard

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