ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 38

Britain’s biggest hit maker will soon be here!

By Ranjit Vethakan

He’s no more a Young One, but he has steadfastly remained a Bachelor Boy!

Sir Cliff Richard jets into Colombo this week with his 25-strong tour-party at the end of yet another gruelling, but remarkably successful Asian tour for an eagerly anticipated date with his adoring Sri Lankan fans – his first in a near-50-year career.

The clean-skinned Indian-born pop star is, undoubtedly Britain’s biggest hit maker, with no less than 128 forays in the UK charts. That’s almost double the times the incomparable Beatles achieved as a unit, although there are those who will argue that the foursome would have scored more notches in their belt had they lasted the pace.

However, while longevity clearly stands out as one of Sir Cliff’s greatest achievements, there is no denying the fact that he knew what he was doing, adjusting his style to the needs – and trends - of the times.

How else would he have charted in every decade since breaking into it in 1958 with Move It?
Just for the record, here are his chart toppers in each decade Living Doll (1959), Travelling Light (1959), Please Don’t Tease (1960), I Love You (1960), The Young Ones (1962), The Next Time/Bachelor Boy (1963), Summer Holiday (1963), The Minute You’re Gone (1965), Congratulations (1968), We Don’t Talk Anymore (1979), Living Doll (1986), Mistletoe And Wine (1988), Saviour’s Day (1990) and The Millennium Prayer (2000).

It must be noted that in 1986 Sir Cliff did the unthinkable, becoming the first and only Briton to have two versions of the same song sitting comfortably on top of the charts. After making it the biggest hit of 1959, he did a humorous, anarchic re-recording of Living Doll for BBC's charity appeal Comic Relief. It featured the cast of BBC's comedy Young Ones series, which were Rik Mayall, Adrian Edmonson, Nigel Planer and Christopher Ryan.

Its writer, Lionel Bart, said at the time that he had got the idea from one of those ads in the Sunday papers for a doll that did everything “and I wrote it in 10 minutes flat."

For those curious, Move It went as high as No.2 in 1958.

The pop icon with an unblemished record, Sir Cliff's only brush with controversy came in the 1970s when he was deported from Singapore for refusing to cut his long hair contrary to the country's strict regulations.

However, in his recent interview with The Sunday Times, Sir Cliff did point out that he always looked forward to his regular forays into Asia – his penchant for culinary treats with an Indian/Sri Lankan flavour is legendary!

“The audience out here is so different . . . they probably may not sing out their favourites with me, as much as they do in the UK, Europe or in Australia, but it’s very clear that they’re enjoying themselves and having a ball out there,” he said.

Sir Cliff, 66, has also indicated that he would extend his Colombo concert by a minimum 30 minutes "to make up for the time" he had taken to visit our shores.

Also, his affection for the much sought after Mateus Rosé is renowned, although it must be said that he is known to have never gone overboard!

While not a great film buff, he has starred in five movies, starting with Serious Charge in 1959, followed by The Young Ones and Summer Holiday in 1961 and 1962 respectively, giving a good account of his dancing skills in the latter.

He also made Wonderful Life and Finders Keepers a couple of years later. The first to be knighted from the world of pop in 1995, Sir Cliff has since been followed by Sir Elton John, Sir Phil Collins and Sir Tom Jones.

And, then, finally, why didn’t he get married? “Well, I never found the right one,’’ was his response in a recent interview, although it is public knowledge he had platonic friendships with singer/actor Olivia Newton-John, one-time darling of the British tennis court, Sue Barker, and actress Una Stubbs.

Sir Cliff will perform at the Exhibition and Conference Centre on February 23, the concert presented by Gold FM and DK Promotions.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.