Although The Shadows spent much of their early career playing for Cliff Richards, they were always much more than just a live and recording backing band. Although several of the members had form as vocalists, they were marketed as an instrumental act, and became an inspiration for millions of keen guitar players all over the world.
Although initial releases were unsuccessful, The Shadows found a winning formula in 1960, with a cover of ‘Apache’, an instrumental track composed by Jerry Lordan. Five weeks in the charts for ‘Apache’, with ‘Wonderful Land’, another track written by Lordan, and a song called ‘Kon Tiki’ also making it to number one. When the original Shadows line-up changed, the songwriting continued, with hits such as ‘Foottapper’, and ‘Dance On’, also proving popular.
Meanwhile, departing member of The Shadows, Jet Harris, signed a solo deal with record label Decca, and gained several chart placings with his initial releases. Jet’s success as a solo artist was shortlived, and he then formed a duo with his former bandmate Tony Meehan. Their most notable hit as a duo was the song ‘Diamonds’. Tony died in 2005, while Jet continued as a solo performer, and was often seen at 60’s nights. He died in March 2011.
With new band members, The Shadows continued until 1968, before splitting, and later enjoying reunions in 1973, and 1990. There was also a brief stint on a UK and European tour in 2004-2005. Although there were a few splits and reunions, the band still managed to build up an interesting CV, which included performing ‘Let Me Be The One’, as a UK entry in the 1975 Eurovision song contest.
Over the years they also released albums of original and cover material, the latter which included distinctive instrumental versions of some classic songs. ’50 Golden Greats’ released in 2000 featured the ‘Thunderbirds Theme’ and ‘Whiter Shade of Pale’, while the 2005 release Shadows: Memories- 36 Guitar Moods’, included ‘Careless Whisper’, ‘Knights In White Satin’, and ‘All I Ask Of You. There was also ‘The Shadows Collection’ released in 2008, which included some of their best known hits.
No mention of The Shadows would be complete, without also adding Hank Marvin’s solo success to the mix. Often dubbed a ‘guitar hero’, he has influenced the likes of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Roy Wood, and Neil Young. Hank’s solo recording career began in 1969, with another album release in 1977. His experimental nature came to fore when he changed direction in the 1980’s, first heard on the LP’s ‘Words and Music’ and ‘All Alone With Friends’.
More often than not, Hank co-wrote for his albums, either with his brother Joe Rankin, or former Shadows cohorts Brian Bennett and John Farrar. Hank also had the opportunity to work with esteemed producer Christopher Neil, who listed Sheena Easton, The Moody Blues, and Paul Young as previous clients. Hank also took on covers, releasing ‘Hank Plays Cliff’, and ‘Hank Plays Holly’.
You only have to search an online record store for Hank Marvin or The Shadows, to realise the influence they had, and still have, on the music industry.