Entertainment Music

Tuesday 12 November 2019

Congratulations! Sir Cliff Richard to celebrate birthday at Royal Albert Hall

Sir Cliff Richard's epic showbusiness journey began in the 1950s
Sir Cliff Richard's epic showbusiness journey began in the 1950s

Veteran pop star Sir Cliff Richard will celebrate turning 75 on Wednesday October 14 with a birthday gig at London's Royal Albert Hall.

The singer, actor and TV star has enjoyed a remarkable career spanning an incredible 57 years, but is not slowing down as the years advance.

Officially Britain's greatest solo hit-maker, his output of 123 hit singles and 101 albums is unlikely to be equalled, let alone surpassed.

Sir Cliff's greatest hits include chart-toppers such as The Young Ones, Living Doll, Summer Holiday, We Don't Talk Anymore and 1988 Christmas number one, Mistletoe And Wine.

Alongside Elvis Presley, the septuagenarian holds the record for featuring in each of the first six decades of the UK Singles Chart (1950s-2000s). He is also the only act to have had a number one single in the UK in five consecutive decades.

Sir Cliff has sold over 250 million units worldwide, with over 21 million singles in the UK alone, making him the third top-selling singles artist in UK chart history, behind The Beatles and second-placed Elvis.

Branded The Peter Pan Of Pop thanks to his comparatively youthful appearance, Sir Cliff has never married or had children.

Born Harry Webb in Lucknow, India in 1940, he spent the first eight years of his life in what was then a British colony before his family moved back to England.

The young Webb became interested in skiffle music, but everything changed when he heard the King of rock and roll sing.

"Elvis was my reason for existing as a rock singer," he told ClassicBands.com. "Had there been no Elvis, I don't think there would've been a Cliff Richard either."

Teaming up with a backing band that would evolve into The Shadows (who became stars in their own right), Sir Cliff modelled himself on his idol for 1958 debut, Move It.

A year later, the genial star and The Shadows were making movies.

In 1960, ITV commenced a seven-year television relationship with the entertainer. Feature films The Young Ones (1961) and Summer Holiday (1963) cemented Richard's clean-cut image.

Sir Cliff became a practising Christian in 1964. Four years later, he represented the UK in the Eurovision song contest with Congratulations, but lost to Spain by one point.

The BBC cashed in on his popularity with variety show It's Cliff Richard from 1970-1974, and he tried Eurovision again in 1973 with Power To All Our Friends, finishing the night in third place.

The hits continued during the 1970s, with Devil Woman and We Don't Talk Anymore as particular highlights.

By the early 80s, Sir Cliff was being name-checked by the late Rik Mayall in anarchic comedy The Young Ones. He even collaborated with the stars of the BBC Two show on a Comic Relief version of Living Doll in 1986.

It gave him yet another number one single.

Knighted in 1995, a year later Sir Cliff famously kept the Wimbledon centre court crowd entertained during a rain delay with a sing-along.

That same year, he played Heathcliff in a musical version of Wuthering Heights, but his performance was savaged by the critics.

Despite many stations refusing to play it, The Millennium Prayer topped the UK Singles Chart in 1999. It is his last number one to date, but Sir Cliff has continued to make music for his dedicated fanbase.

He started in the rock and roll era and went on to watch Beatlemania explode, glam rock thrive, punk erupt, disco, hip hop, and dance music break out. And he's still making music today.

Speaking to BBC Radio 2's Paul O'Grady in August, the entertainer said: "When you start your career, you have no concept about longevity, for me you don't know what's going to happen, so how it's gone on I've no idea."

Cliff Richard plays Albert Hall as part of his 75th Birthday Tour from Monday October 12 to Sunday October 18.

PA Media

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