In the early stages of his solo career, Cliff Richard was hot property. He gained media coverage from newspapers and music magazines, was frequently on television, and his songs found their way onto radio playlists. His popularity also extended to him winning vast amounts of reader polls; his accolades including Best UK Male Singer in a poll run by NME, Best Male Singer in a poll run by Melody Maker, and he also won similar polls run by European music press.
How times have changed, with tastemakers all over the media declaring that Cliff didn’t fit in with their ‘target audience’, so there has been something of an ‘unofficial radio ban’ to contend with. Although Cliff has struggled to sustain his recording career, losing out on radio airtime and royalties, he still has plenty of achievements to his name.
2011 sees the release of ‘Soulicious’, a soul duets album, which features iconic artists such as Freda Payne, Percy Sledge, and Jacki Graham. A tour to promote the album will feature some duets, and original songs by all of these top UK and US stars.
This is just one of a number of different ventures Cliff Richard has produced since he first got a guitar at the age of 16. Along with Pop, Soul, and Rock ‘n’ Roll, he’s also released Christian and Gospel albums. Despite his struggles with airplay, recent figures show he has put out 149 singles, 44 EP’s, 88 albums, and 11 compilations, all of which his loyal fan base have supported.
Cliff has always had a loyal following in the UK, and his fan base extends into Europe, particularly Germany, Holland, Denmark, Belgium and Sweden. There are also fans in Australia, New Zealand, and America. Although Cliff Richard was never a huge ‘success story’ stateside, he still managed to break into the charts, achieving 8 top 40 singles, notable among them were ‘Devil Woman’, and ‘We Don’t Talk Anymore’.
Recording aside, he has also turned his attention to a number of other projects, partly, it’s been said, to compensate for his lack of royalty earning radio play. A variety of Cliff Richard merchandise has made it to market, including perfume named after some of his hit songs, calendars, teddy bears, and of course, his wine. Cliff owns a vineyard in Portugal, and sells Vida Nova wine online, and also via Waitrose.
Cliff has also been a well-known star of stage and screen, appearing in films with his backing band The Shadows, taking to the stage in pantomime and plays, and coming up with a musical called ‘Heathcliff’. This production was inspired by the novel ‘Wuthering Heights’, with Cliff Richard credited for writing the book of the musical, and taking a starring role in the production.
Although there have been a few career breaks, Cliff shows no signs of stopping, and continues to release records, work with an eclectic range of musicians and singers, and put his creative skills and business mind to good use on a variety of other projects. Who knows where the Cliff Richard journey will lead us next.