Harry Roger Webb recorded the ‘first’ British Rock and Roll Song, that I ever heard, under the name ‘Cliff Richard and the Drifters’ which would be changed to ‘Cliff Richard and the Shadows’. I was a fan in his early career, not so much later on, but I just loved the Shadows and their guitar player ‘Hank B. Marvin’. I just purchased their DVD called ‘The Final Reunion’ and I recommend it to everyone. It has 42 Songs on it, great Value.
He started life as Harry Webb and spent some of his childhood years in India. Cliff Richard was inspired by the music of Elvis Presley and at age 16, formed a band, ‘The Quintones’, with school friends and performed at their local Youth Club. From there, Cliff Richard went from strength to strength and became a global star.
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 publicized 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 1990s, 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.
1. Move It/ first British Rock and Roll Record 1958/ #2 UK
2. High Class Baby/ 1958/ #7
3. Livin’ Doll/ 1959/ #1 UK
4. Travellin’ Light/ 1959/ #1 UK
5. Please Don’t Tease/ 1960/ #1 UK
6. I Love You/ 1960/ #1 UK
7. A Girl Like You/ 1961/ #3 UK
8. The Young Ones/ 1962/ #1 UK
9. Bachelor Boy/1962/ #1 UK
10. Summer Holiday/ 1963/ #1 UK
11. Lucky Lips/ 1963/ #1 UK
12. It’s All in the Game/ 1963/ #2 UK
13. Dancin’ Shoes/ From Summer Holiday/1963
The Shadows were formed from members of several late 1950s UK skiffle groups: the Newcastle-based “Railroaders” (and also The Five Chesternuts on Columbia Records) who supplied Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch, both inspired by US pop music; and The Vipers Skiffle Group (on Parlophone records) who supplied Jet Harris and Tony Meehan from London, both inspired by UK jazz–skiffle music. The Shadows, although originally the live and recording backing band for Cliff Richard, were later marketed as an instrumental combo, following their explosive chart success with the Jerry Lordan composition “Apache.” In the US and Canada, they were briefly marketed as a ‘surf’ group with two special compilation albums on Atlantic records, The Shadows Know and Surfing with The Shadows, to compete with The Ventures and The Surfaris. Although both these albums failed to chart in America, the band had hits worldwide.
The group was created in 1958 out of Cliff Richard’s urgent need for a set of permanent backing musicians, after the success of his “Move It” single, which had been recorded with a mixture of his own “The Five Chesternuts” (later “The Drifters”) electrified skiffle group, plus session players. According to Norrie Paramor, their first producer, the Shadows’ first studio album was dogged throughout its creation by clashes within the band. Harris and Meehan eventually recorded under their own names for Decca Records after, first Meehan and then Harris, left The Shadows following clashes. Meehan was replaced by ex-Krew Kats drummer Brian Bennett, Harris by bassist Brian (“Licorice”) Locking, and later John Rostill who stayed with them until the late 60s.
The Shadows disbanded in 1968 but Marvin and Welch subsequently formed a vocal–guitar trio Marvin Welch & Farrar. Because of low sales and fans demanding Shadows numbers at MW&F gigs, The Shadows reformed in 1973 with Brian Bennett as a full member and various extra musicians. The group permanently disbanded in 1990 but temporarily reformed in 2004-05 for a UK and European tour (the reunion being instigated in 2001 by Roger Field, a guitarist friend of Hank Marvin), and again during 2008–10 to tour with Cliff Richard.
Formed as a backing band for Cliff Richard, under the name The Drifters, the members were founder Ken Pavey (born 1932), Terry Smart on drums (born 1942), Norman Mitham on guitar (born 1941), Ian Samwell on guitar and Harry Webb (before he became Cliff Richard on guitar and vocals. The original Drifters had no bass player. Samwell wrote the group’s first hit, “Move It”, which is often mistakenly attributed to “Cliff Richard and The Shadows.” Two session players, guitarist Ernie Shear and bassist Frank Clark, played on the “Move It” / “Schoolboy Crush” single on producer Norrie Paramor’s insistence to ensure a strong sound.
The Drifters signed for Jack Good’s Oh Boy! television series. Paramor of EMI signed Richard, and asked Johnny Foster to recruit a better guitarist. Foster went back to Soho’s 2i’s coffee bar (famed for musical talent performing there, particularly in skiffle) in search of guitarist Tony Sheridan. Sheridan was not there but Foster’s attention was caught by another musician, who played guitar well and had on Buddy Holly glasses.
Hank Marvin had played in a school skiffle band with Bruce Welch. The pair had traveled from Newcastle and were surviving on little money. Foster offered Marvin the job, and he accepted on condition that Welch also join. New manager Franklin Boyd could see the pair worked well and they were employed as lead and rhythm guitarists. Ian Samwell was moved to bass until he was replaced by the Most Brothers’ bass guitarist, Jet Harris. Drummer Terry Smart left shortly afterwards and was replaced at Harris’s suggestion by Tony Meehan. The Drifters’ professional lineup now complete, became The Shadows in early 1959 to avoid confusion with the contemporary American R&B vocal group The Drifters. None of the original UK Drifters were in the group when they became The Shadows. Foster continued for a time as Richard’s manager, and Samwell wrote additional songs for The Drifters and The Shadows before writing and producing for others. Meehan recalled that Richard, backed by Marvin, Welch, Harris and himself had played together a year beforehand at least once at the 2i’s.
The group started recording and performing with Richard and released two singles in their own right in 1959 (“Feelin’ Fine”/”Don’t Be A Fool With Love”) and (“Jet Black”/”Driftin'”). The first two tracks were vocals and the second pair instrumental. Neither charted. A further (vocal) (“Saturday Dance”/”Lonesome Fella”) also failed. The instrumental “Chinchilla” was included on a four-track soundtrack EP by Cliff Richard and the Drifters called Serious Charge released in early 1959 with the film of the same name.
In the spring of the same year the US soul group The Drifters threatened legal action against the British group ‘The Drifters’ after the release and subsequent immediate withdrawal of the “Feelin Fine” single in the US. The second single “Jet Black” was released in the US under the name ‘The Four Jets’ as a temporary move to avoid further legal aggravation but a new band name was becoming a matter of urgency if they were to progress. The new band name The Shadows was invented by Jet Harris (apparently unaware of Bobby Vee’s backing group) while he and Marvin were relaxing at the Six Bells pub in Ruislip in July 1959.
From “The Story of The Shadows”…with a combination of the American situation, Cliff Richard’s runaway success (Living Doll had by now sold over a million copies in Britain alone) and a bit of nudging from Norrie Paramor, we set about finding a permanent name, which arrived out of the blue one summer’s day in July 1959 (maybe the 19th.) When Hank Marvin and Jet Harris took off to their scooters up to the Six Bells pub at Ruislip. Jet hit upon a name straight away. ‘What about the Shadows?’ The lad was a genius! So we became the Shadows for the first time on Cliff’s sixth single “Travellin’ Light”.
In 1960, the band released “Apache,” an instrumental by Jerry Lordan, which topped the charts for five weeks. Further hits followed, notably “Wonderful Land”, another Lordan composition with orchestral backing, at the top of the charts longer than “Apache” (8 weeks). This, and “Kon Tiki” six months earlier, reached number one. The Shadows played on more chart-toppers as Richard’s band. This group, referred to subsequently as “The Original Shadows,” had seven hits.
In October 1961 Meehan was replaced by Brian Bennett and in April 1962 Harris was replaced by Brian Locking, also known as Licorice. Bennett and Licorice were friends from the 2I’s who had both previously been in Marty Wilde’s backing group The Wildcats who also recorded instrumentals as The Krew Kats. This Shadows line-up also produced seven hits, two of which, “Dance On” and “Foot Tapper” topped the charts. The Marvin-Welch-Bennett-Locking line-up lasted 18 months. In October 1963 Locking left to spend more time as a Jehovah’s Witness. The band had met John Rostill on tour with other bands and had been impressed by his playing, so they invited him to take over. This final and longest-lasting lineup was also the most innovative as they tried different guitars and developed a wider range of styles and higher musicianship. They produced impressive albums but the chart positions of singles began to ease. The line-up had ten hits but the most successful, “The Rise and Fall of Flingel Bunt,” was also the first of those ten.
During the 1960s the group appeared with Cliff Richard in the films The Young Ones, Summer Holiday, Wonderful Life, Finders Keepers and as marionettes in the Gerry Anderson film Thunderbirds Are GO. They starred in a short humorous B-movie film called Rhythm ‘n Greens which became the basis of a music book and an “EP.” They appeared on stage in pantomime. Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp was in 1964 at the London Palladium with Arthur Askey as Widow Twankey, Richard as Aladdin, and The Shadows as Wishee, Washee, Noshee and Toshee. Cinderella at the Palladium in 1966 featured Richard as Buttons and The Shadows as the Broker’s Men, The film and stage roles allowed the group to develop as songwriters. They wrote only a few songs for the earliest film, 1961’s The Young Ones, but by Finders Keepers in 1966 almost the entire soundtrack was credited to Marvin-Welch-Bennett-Rostill. In 1967 The Shadows used Olivia Newton-John to feature on one track The Day I Met Marie on their album From Hank Bruce Brian and John.
The line-up split in December 1968, after the tenth anniversary album Established 1958, a mixture of tracks (7 plus 7) with Richard, and instrumentals featuring just The Shadows. All were written by the group. Welch left. This was almost the end,Template:Of what? although an album (Shades of Rock) in 1970 and a tour of Japan in 1969 followed with Alan Hawkshaw on keyboards; in Marvin’s words, they did it ‘for the Yen.’ The live LP of the tour features a long version of “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue” in which Marvin plays acoustic and electric guitar.
The group began 1970 by appearing on the BBC’s highly rated review of the sixties music scene Pop Go The Sixties, performing “Apache” and backing Cliff Richard for “Bachelor Boy,” live on the show broadcast across Europe and BBC1, on 31 December 1969. This was followed by Hank and a reconstituted Shadows becoming the resident guests on Cliff Richard’s debut TV series for the BBC, It’s Cliff Richard!. During the early 1970s, Marvin and Welch had a second career as vocal group Marvin Welch & Farrar with Australian John Farrar as third vocalist. Farrar provided a distinctive, high falsetto vocal style and skill as an arranger. They recorded two acclaimed albums and several singles and, without Welch, a third album Marvin and Farrar, which Marvin described as “Frankenstein meets The Beach Boys”. Live performances were hampered by audiences expecting the Shadows’ greatest hits. Marvin said (interviewed in Guitar Greats by John Tobler), “In the Batley Variety Club we walked off stage to the sound of our own footsteps!”
The Shadows reformed in 1973 with Welch on rhythm guitar and Farrar on guitar and vocals. Following the death of John Rostill, the group booked session bassists for recordings and tours. Dave Richmond and Alan Tarney, who had each provided bass for Marvin, Welch & Farrar, continued for the reformed Shadows. An album, Rockin’ with Curly Leads featured Marvin using contemporary guitar fuzz effects to modify his sound. Some tracks used Farrar as second lead guitarist, giving this album a very different sound from previous recordings.
1974 was a gap year for the Shadows although they did record some new material for Specs Appeal album and other material which was only released on CD during the 1990s.
The group were chosen by BBC Head of Light Entertainment Bill Cotton to perform the Song for Europe in the 1975 Eurovision Song Contest. The Shadows recorded six options, seen each week on a weekly television show It’s Lulu, televised on BBC1 and hosted by Lulu, a former Eurovision winner herself. Unusually for the format, instead of presenting each song live in the studio on a weekly basis and then presenting all six songs consecutively in a ‘special’ edition on week seven, the group pre-taped all six performances separately in the TV studio, before the series itself began, with the video then being cut into the weekly show. For the presentation of the songs on week seven and the announcement of the result on week eight, the pre-recorded performances were run again. Two of the songs (“No, No Nina” and “This House Runs On Sunshine”) were co-penned by members of the group themselves. The public however voted for “Let Me Be The One,” composed by Paul Curtis, to go to the Eurovision final in Stockholm. There, the group came second to the Dutch entry, Teach-In’s “Ding-A-Dong”. Having long since stepped out of Cliff Richard’s ‘shadow’, this was a rare excursion into lyrics for a band better known for instrumentals (however they had cut vocal tracks on most albums, plus some singles ‘B’ sides, and had two charting vocal singles in the sixties). Bruce Welch had lead vocal duties, and let the world know when he forgot a couple of words when he turned to his colleagues and said “I knew it” in range of his microphone. Author and historian John Kennedy O’Connor notes in The Eurovision Song Contest – The Official History that they were not a popular choice to represent the UK and the viewers’ postal vote was the lowest recorded in the ‘Song For Europe’ history. But the contest re-established The Shadows and the single climbed to number 12 in the UK charts. An album of new material, including both vocal and instrumental tracks Specs Appeal was released to coincide with their Eurovision appearance.
In 1975 EMI also released the live album “Live at the Paris Olympia”
which was originally scheduled to have been a double live album with a gatefold sleeve but this was slimmed down
to a single vinyl album at the last minute resulting in all the tracks being resequenced. Subsequently in 1992 EMI
records reissued the full concert on CD with the tracks in the correct order as at the original concert.
In 1976 EMI released a compilation album of recordings from 1962 to
1970: Rarities with sleeve notes written by John Friesen. The first half of the album was by The Shadows and the
second half was from Hank Marvin’s solo career.
Following the rare vocal single ‘It’ll Be Me, Babe’ (written and sung by Marvin & Farrar) John Farrar departed the band that year, quite amicably relocating to the USA to successfully Produce Olivia Newton-John. Among her hits Farrar would write ‘You’re The One That I Want’ (covered by The Shadows in 1979) for Olivia & John Travolta for the film ‘Grease’.
The packaging of the group’s greatest hits in Twenty Golden Greats by EMI in 1977 prompted the group to reform yet again for a tour featuring Francis Monkman from Sky on keyboards, leading to a number one album and a top ten hit single “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina.” Francis left after that tour and the line-up settled as Marvin, Welch and Bennett, supplemented on records and gigs by Cliff Hall (keyboards) and Alan Jones (bass).
1978 was a relatively quiet year other than a one-off concert in London where Don’t Cry For Me Argentina was recorded and then over-dubbed and remixed and released as a single with George Ford on Bass.
In 1979 they initially recorded their version of Cavatina which became another hit single and then they recorded ten more tracks (with Alan Jones on Bass) for the String of Hits album on EMI which topped the album charts causing EMI to moot a follow up compilation album akin to a ‘String of Hits-volume 2’ with 11 old (plus one unreleased) tracks culled from albums previously released in 1970, 1973, 1975 and 1977 of various cover versions of hit singles which was eventually released as Another String of Hot Hits in 1980.
The group performed and recorded until 1990, with most of their 1980s albums performing well in the charts. With the exception of Guardian Angel, an album of almost 100% new material, most of 1980s albums featured covers of pop songs, with little original material. The group moved in 1980 from EMI toPolydor with Change of Address. EMI would not agree to a tape leasing scheme, whereby the group would retain copyright of recordings, but the company would be licensed to publish them for individual albums. This resulted in the group re-recording much of its catalogue of 1960s EMI hits for Polydor with the 1989 album At Their Very Best. The recordings were made using analogue equipment but digitally mastered, with instruments, amplifiers, and arrangements close to the original recordings. This has allowed the group to package and market their own compilation albums, featuring old hits as well as new.
Other albums, such as Diamonds, feature no new material, being compiled from recent albums. The line-up remained until Alan Jones in 1985 had a car accident and Mark Griffiths of Plainsong (band) and the Cliff Richard band and originally from Matthews Southern Comfort was brought in on bass. Brian Bennett resigned from the band some 6 months ahead of the final tour and their contract with Polydor up for renewal. He and Jones shared bass duties until 1990 when the band stopped touring and Marvin played solo again.
In the 1990s all albums were reissued as Compact Discs by EMI and Polydor.
In December 2004 The Shadows were each awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) but Hank Marvin declined his.
The group reformed in 2004 to mount a farewell tour, and they recorded a new track, “Life Story,” (written by the late Jerry Lordan) to accompany a new greatest hits package of the same name which featured ’80s re-recordings of all their 1960s and 1970s hits. This opportunity to see Marvin, Welch and Bennett, joined on keyboards by Cliff Hall and on bass by Mark Griffiths, was so successful that they extended the tour to Europe in 2005. The line-up was almost the same, but Warren Bennett, son of Brian, came in on keyboards instead of Hall. On 27 November 2008, a concert tour, with Cliff Richard, for 2009 was announced. On 11 December 2008, Cliff Richard and the Shadows performed at the Royal Variety Performance at the same time announcing their forthcoming 50th anniversary tour. The tour commenced in September 2009 with 36 shows throughout the UK and Europe and extended to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in 2010.
The Final Tour was reissued on the Blu-ray format by Eagle Records in 2010.
Style and image
What’s the most distinctive sound of our group? We often wondered what it is ourselves. Really, it is the sound we had when we recorded “Apache” – that kind of Hawaiian sounding lead guitar … plus the beat.
NME – September 1963
As pioneers in British rock-music The Shadows and their management were naïve in terms of exploiting commercial opportunities such as self-promotion via artwork. They allowed Vox amplification to produce small metallic badges, using an italicised Tahoma type font, with the group name to be positioned on the front bottom right corner of all three Vox cabinets sometime during the early 1960s for gig usage. This badge became the “default” band logo but was never commercially exploited by the group.
Unlike later groups such as The Beatles, The Shadows never used the logo on the front of the bass-drum, preferring to allow their two drummers, Tony Meehan and Brian Bennett, to use their names instead. Belatedly, the logo was used once on the front artwork of the 1975 original studio album, Specs Appeal. As of 2009, the logo still remains untrademarked and uncopyrighted.
In lieu of proper band logo instead four silhouettes of the original line up, in ascending order of height, were used as a pseudo-band logo on concert program covers and various artwork projects such as sheet music, EP and album covers. From left to right after the drum-kit there was Tony Meehan, Jet Harris, Hank Marvin, Bruce Welch. The original artwork group silhouette was modified each time a band member was changed. The last version of the Shadows group-silhouette featured Brian Bennett and John Rostill in the late 1960s. During the 1970s EMI dropped the use of the group silhouettes preferring to use silhouettes or light-induced shadows of three guitar necks or color photos of the Shadows for promotion. During the latter half of the 1980s Polydor records used a red Fender Stratocaster (with white scratch plate) guitar as a symbol for the Shadows.
The Shadows’ ‘walk’
In 1958 Bruce Welch went to see a concert as part of the ill-fated 1958 Jerry Lee Lewis tour of the UK of which he later said:
On the show was this black American band called The Treniers. Hank Marvin and I were at the back, and we were really impressed at the way the sax players moved in unison, taken, I suppose, from the Glenn Miller days. It looked fantastic and we thought, “We must do something like that because it looks so interesting from the front.”
The Shadows developed a number of movement sequences using their bodies and guitars in tempo with the music played, such as the ‘walk’. As seen on BBC’s this ‘walk’ has been copied by numerous groups as part of their TOTP presentation e.g. Mud, The Rubettes, Showaddywaddy, Yellow Dog. The walk consists of three steps contained within a 60-60-60 degree triangle formation with a reverse right-heel back-kick with optional can-can finale. This simple choreographed routine was varied throughout a typical gig during certain numbers, for example, “FBI.”
During the 1980s, rather than playing their instruments in a static posture, during an instrumental number, or using “the Shadows’ walk,” their live act was further refined to include another routine stage movement effect. This featured Marvin, Welch and the bassist synchronising all their guitars in unison as a threesome to move them in time, or in sequence, with critical note or chord changes.
Occasionally, during other instrumentals, this guitars in-step presentation mode is re-engineered with Marvin and Welch acting out of sequence or alternating with each other.
During the late 1950s in the UK many pop stars were expected to undergo a name change to a ‘stage’ name, (as in the case of Billy Fury or Adam Faith). Several members of the original “Cliff Richard and The Shadows” line-up changed their birth names to stage names; Harry Webb became Cliff Richard, Brian Rankin became Hank Marvin, Terrence Harris became Jet Harris, and Bruce Cripps became Bruce Welch. Subsequently the names “Cliff Richard” and “Hank Brian Marvin” were confirmed by deed poll.
1. Apache/ 1960/ #1 UK
2. FBI/1960/# 6/span>
3. Kon Tiki/ 1961/ #1 UK
4. Wonderful Land/ 1962/ #1 UK
5. Dance On/ 1962/ #1 UK
6. Foot Tapper/ 1963/ #1 UK
7. Atlantis/ 1963/#1 UK