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Born Harry Roger Webb in India on 14 October, 1940, the so-called 'Peter Pan of Pop' has had No.1 records in the UK chart in every decade from the 1950s to the 1990s - a quite remarkable feat.
Early on in his career, he changed his name to Cliff Richard. His first group as front man wasn't that remarkable, but soon he joined up with a band called The Shadows who were a much better match. The partnership rocketed them all to fame and fortune.
Early on in his career, Cliff was thought of as a rebellious teen idol, a British response to Elvis Presley. Cliff's sexuality and (lack of) sex-life has, however, been the topic of much tabloid discussion, rumour and innuendo. The man himself says he 'isn't celibate' - in that he never took a vow of celibacy. He has had girlfriends; one of whom, Sue Barker1 famously said:
If Cliff says we don't have sex, then we don't have sex.
How many times did Cliff enter the Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of the UK? Twice, with 'Congratulations' (1968) and 'Power To All Our Friends' (1973). He came second and third respectively, but both songs added to his long list of chart hits. No doubt he hates the constant playbacks of his awful dancing and even worse outfits though.
Like Elvis, the 1950s and '60s saw Cliff double up as a movie star in films such as The Young Ones (1961) and Summer Holiday (1963). Cliff wasn't a bad actor either, though most of the films left a lot to be desired. They were quaint and fun, musical niceties with no sex or violence, just something you could watch with your kids. The Shadows guest-starred in some of his films, and you'd usually find actress Una Stubbs2 in there too. She and Cliff remain great friends, and on a recent Audience with Cliff, he dedicated the song 'When The Girl In Your Arms Is The Girl In Your Heart' to her. Lucky girl.
'A Voice In The Wilderness'
Cliff is a dedicated Christian. Against the advice of his manager and peers, he announced his commitment to God and Jesus publicly at a concert. Many feared it would be the end of his career, destroying his credibility with his youthful following, but they were proved wrong (see 'Millennium Prayer' below).
'Cliff Richard Jr and the Shadows' were guest stars in the film Thunderbirds Are Go (1966), in a bizarre dream sequence at a nightclub in space. Yes, they were puppets. Cliff's real voice was used; he was a neighbour of the producers Gerry and Sylvia Anderson3.
There's no room in my life for drugs and sex.
Cliff has been described as 'wholesome' and appears to have no vices. He's the man some people just love to hate. His dedicated fans travel the world to listen to him sing in concerts or watch him play celebrity tennis. Whether a fan or not, Cliff is an institution and, looking at his youthful good looks, a great advert for clean living and an uncomplicated sex life.
'Mistletoe and Wine'
No Christmas would be complete without a Cliff record competing for the coveted Christmas No.1 spot. In 1988, Cliff's 99th single, 'Mistletoe and Wine' sold almost three-quarters of a million copies and became the biggest-selling single of that year.
Coincidentally, Cliff has a home in the Algarve region of Portugal, where he grows grapes in his own vineyard and now markets his own brand of red wine, Vida Nova4. Since its release in 2002, the wine sells out as fast as the supermarkets can stock it. Vida Nova is now the fastest-selling product offered by Tesco on their website.
Few artists could do a tour to plug a single like 'Millennium Prayer' and get it to No.1 with absolutely no airplay - that's a testament to the adoration of his fans, who rushed out to buy the single because Cliff asked them to. The song was a mix of The Lord's Prayer and 'Auld Lang Syne', and some radio stations controversially refused to play it.
'Where Do We Go From Here?'
Here are some other facts about the evergreen Prince of Pop.
'Nine Times Out Of Ten'
If there's a celebrity charity bash, you'll see Cliff in the front row.
If he wants to do a little sight-seeing or window shopping, Cliff hops on a plane to the USA, where he is a virtual unknown.
'It's All In The Game'
Tennis is probably the biggest love of his life. Cliff established his own charity The Cliff Richard Tennis Foundation.
If it rains at Wimbledon, you'll probably see and hear Cliff leading a sing-song.
Cliff was knighted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth for 'services to charity' in 1995. The Sir Cliff Richard Charitable Trust supporting children and the elderly as well as medical research projects.
'Power To All Our Friends'
Cliff has duetted with many famous singers including Elton John, Janet Jackson, Olivia Newton-John, Phil Everly and Sarah Brightman.
Cliff met Hank Marvin for the first time when Cliff was being fitted for a pink stage jacket, which Marvin never failed to mention when engaging with audiences while Cliff was off-stage changing outfits.
The single 'Just Don't Have the Heart' was Cliff's attempt to stay in touch with modern music by hiring the production talents of Stock, Aitken and Waterman.
Cliff also recorded a version of 'Unchained Melody'.
'Miss You Nights'
'The Best Of Me'
In 1989, Cliff became the first British artist to release 100 singles. 'The Best Of Me' which was co-written by Richard Marx and reached No.2 in the charts. Since then there have been many more hits, a complete list can be found here.
One of Cliff's life-long ambitions was to star in a stage musical. Time, devised and produced by Dave Clark6, opened at the Dominion Theatre in London in 1986. Cliff, in the role of spiritual rock star, represented Earth before the High Court of the Universe in the Andromeda galaxy. The use of spectacular sets and sensational special effects ensured its success. Time became a popular tourist attraction even though critics panned it.
Following this success, (it ran for two years), Cliff achieved even bigger success with Heathcliff the musical. Although damned by the critics yet again, in his fans' eyes he can do no wrong.
'All My Love'
Cliff shows no signs of retiring, even approaching his 70th birthday. His 60th birthday bash began with a huge dinner at the Grosvenor House Hotel7 and then he treated about 80 family and friends to a week-long Mediterranean cruise. Sir Cliff sure knows how to party.