Early on in Cliff Richards’ career, he had the opportunity to be the star of several television series, the most notable of which, was The Cliff Richards Show, which ran from 1960 to 1963. The show required him to perform with a backing band, which were originally called The Drifters.
The original line-up included Ian Samwell, Terry Smart, and Norman Mitcham, little known musicians, who were eclipsed by their better known, and more successful replacements. Cliff Richards was later joined by Hank Marvin on lead guitar, Bruce Welch on rhythm guitar, Jet Harris on bass, and Tony Meehan on drums. As well as performing as a backing band on The Cliff Richards Show, they also headed into the recording studio to record instrumentals for Cliff’s early hits, their first effort, being the well-known song ‘Living Doll’, penned by Lionel Bart.
Around this time, The Drifters discovered an American group performing under the same name, and changed their name to The Shadows to avoid legal issues. Along with appearing on many of Cliff’s early hits, The Shadows can also be seen on the films ‘Summer Holiday’ and ‘The Young Ones’ , ‘Wonderful Life’, and ‘Finders Keepers’. Although throughout his career Cliff has appeared with various musicians, backing singers, and orchestras, he did take The Shadows on tour as well.
In the early days, The Shadows would perform a set on their own in the middle of Cliff’s show, performing as a backing band for the rest of the concert. They toured the UK and abroad and coped with several line-up changes, as Jet Harris and Tony Meehan left The Shadows in the early 60’s, to be replaced by Brian Locking, then John Rostill on bass, and permanent drummer Brian Bennett.
Cliff Richards and The Shadows had over 30 hits together, appearing on albums, movie soundtracks, and single releases. The releases included ‘Me and My Shadows’, an album released in 1960, another album called ‘Established 1958’, and singles including ‘Lucky Lips’, and ‘The Young Ones’. There were also appearances on compilation albums, including ‘The Definitive Rock and Roll Album, Volume 1’, and the soundtrack album to the film ‘Summer Holiday’.
The Shadows split in 1968, although this was by no means the end of their professional relationship with Cliff Richards. They reunited in 1978 for 20th Anniversary concerts, and later in 1984 took part in ‘Cliff and The Shadows’ concerts and album. In 2009 Cliff and the Shadows took to the stage for what was billed ‘Their Final Reunion Tour’. A DVD of the concert, and an associated album release hit the top end of the music charts all over the world, adding to an already impressive discography, which also includes various compilations and reworked albums put out under EMI or other record labels.
This is the story of Cliff Richards and The Shadows, but we mustn’t forget: The Shadows also worked independently, and were at the forefront of the guitar band era of the 60’s. What did they achieve as a band in their own right? well that’s a whole other story?