The Shadows were a rock band popular in the late 1950s and 1960s. They began during the 1950s under the name "The Drifters". The band was intially comprised of Cliff Richard (lead vocals/guitar), Norman Mitham (guitar), Terry Smart (drums).
The formation of the band
It was suggested to the group that they put a name out in front of the group's title, as this was the common thing at the time, and hence 'Cliff Richard and the Drifters' came about. The group gained a contract and went into Abbey Road Studios to record their first record in 1958. They were given a non-rocking number called 'Schoolboy Crush' to record, but were allowed to record one of their own for the B-side. This was "Move It", written by Ian "Sammy" Samwell, who was the first new member of the group. (Samwell had joined as lead guitarist).
There are a number of stories about why the A-side song was replaced by the B-side. One of these stories says that their producer Norrie Paramor, played the record to his daughter, and she raved about the B-side song instead of the A-side. Another possible reason for the flip was that influential tv producer Jack Good, who grabbed the act for his tv show "Oh Boy!", said the song to be sung on his show had to be "Move It!" The single was flipped and went to number 2 in the charts. The importance and influence of this song is legendary in British Rock music. John Lennon said, "I think the first English record that was anywhere near anything was 'Move It' by Cliff Richard, and before that there'd been nothing."
A gradual change in the line up eventually left Cliff as the only remaining original member. First of all Mitham left, then Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch joined on guitars, and Jet Harris replaced Samwell on bass (Samwell had shifted to bass when Marvin took on the Lead guitar role). The final original member lost was Terry Smart.
As Jet Harris, Tony Meehan, Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch gradually emerged in the band, some very significant 'lucky events' happened, for the band, and also for the world. Popular music could have been totally changed if certain events did not happen, especially in one single day in Soho. On that day, Cliff's manager, John Foster, was looking for a new lead guitarist. He went back to the 2I's where the Drifters and various other later members had played. He was looking for someone, whom if he had been found, the Beatles would never have been known of.
The man being looked for was Tony Sheridan, who the Drifters knew, and who later played with the Beatles in Hamburg and led the Beatles to getting a recording contract in Britain. Strangely, Tony wasn't there when Foster arrived, and Foster was in a hurry and couldn't wait long. Foster was then told of a guy who was a brilliant guitarist, and so Foster met Hank Marvin. Hank then said he teamed with Bruce Welch, and so Foster on that day brought in two new members to the Drifters.
Tony Meehan and Jet Harris eventually left the group and teamed up very successfully in the charts. One member of Jet and Tony's band was John Paul Jones,later member of Led Zeppelin (who at times recorded with Cliff and the Shadows), and Jimmy Page also recorded with them.
A serious accident halted Jet's success, but he later re-emerged with Jeff Beck (Yardbirds), Ron Wood (Rolling Stones), and Rod Stewart (Faces); however this group didn't last long.
In 1961, Brian Bennett replaced Tony Meehan on drums, and in 1962 Brian "Licquorice" Locking replaced Jet Harris on bass. Soon after, John Rostill replaced Locking on bass.
Later on the Shadows used a number of other people in studio recordings and stage such as Alan Tarney, however their other official member was John Farrar, who was part of the Shadows, Marvin and Farrar, and Marvin Welch and Farrar, offering the group various new ideas and sounds.
The established years
In the period between 1958-1963, Cliff Richard and the Shadows stood as the biggest thing in Britain. They toured the United States and stole the show even over all of the accompanying American acts of the time. The problem was that the record company didn't get behind them strongly enough with distributing albums etc. and so the chances were lost. It was the same with their appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show (which was responsible for much of the Beatles success, but didn't really help Cliff and the Shadows). Cliff and the Shadows basically re-wrote convention in British recording companies and opened EMI up to the importance and strength of rock n roll. It was due to them that Parlophone were looking for a 'second' Cliff and the Shadows, and eventually took the Beatles.
Most well known groups of the 1960s and 1970s started off as imitators of Cliff and the Shadows, singing and playing only Cliff and the Shadows' material, and groups were trained by following how they did things. The Beatles were taken to Cliff and the Shadows concerts and instructed about clothes/ stage presence and various other things, and being of the same fold at Abbey Road, were good friends with the band.
Cliff and the Shadows appeared in a number of films, most notably in The Young Ones (which would give its name to 1980s TV sitcom (The Young Ones), Summer Holiday, Wonderful Life and Finders Keepers. Cliff's best lead role took place in the mid-late '60s film "Two a Penny", which saw Cliff as a young man who gets involved in drug dealing while questioning his life after his girlfriend changes in her attitudes. He also represented the UK twice in the Eurovision Song Contest, both times unsuccessfully, though his first attempt, Congratulations, was a massive hit in Britain and has become a standard, still sung on suitable occasions.
Cliff was led to record sometimes without the Shadows, mainly to cater for other styles i.e. strings, and this helped to give people the incorrect view that Cliff was now separate and the Shadows merely backed HIS songs. In fact, a great number of the songs sung by Cliff and the Shadows were written by the Shadows and Cliff.
In 1960, the Shadows (though having previously recorded as the Drifters without Cliff) released 'Apache', which saw the birth of British rock guitar instrumental music. Again, although people claim the distinction between Cliff and the Shadows, it was still Cliff and the Shadows, as Cliff still played on the recording, but didn't put his name to it. The record set the Shadows on a path of their own, and soon became the greatest instrumental group of all time.
Throughout the '60s, Cliff and the Shadows stayed at the top, even at the height of Mersey music, however they did not have the advantage the new acts had of being able to release music and having it go directly to the USA as well. The Beatles had became huge once America took to them, and this in turn opened up the path across the Atlantic.
Soundtrack from "The Boys"
During the 1970s, Cliff became heavily involved in tv shows, like 'It's Cliff Richard', many of which also starred Hank Marvin. The tv shows made Cliff into a tv personality and not necessarily primarily a recording singer. He was in everyone's homes, and gave enjoyment to all the family, and although still recording and being successful, Cliff and others like his former Shadow Bruce Welch decided that they would once again bring Cliff out as a "rock" artist again. The collaboration produced the landmark Cliff album "I'm Nearly Famous", which brought about the classic rock guitar driven track "Devil Woman" and the haunting "Miss You Nights",. It wasn't just Cliff and the fans who were excited that the man who had begun and led British rock from the start, was back in strength, but also a host of big music names. People like Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, and Elton John began being seen sporting big "I'm Nearly Famous" badges on their clothes, so pleased that their icon was getting heavily back into the heavy rock that he began his career in.
A number of other strong albums were produced, and in 1979 he went to number one with We Don't Talk Anymore. A true Cliff revival was happening. In the next years into and through the '80s, Cliff was the biggest pop star in the country, and he became a magnet for other music greats. In the space of a few years he had worked with Elton John, Mark Knopfler, George Harrison, Julian Lennon, Freddie Mercury, Stevie Wonder, Phil Everly, Janet Jackson and Van Morrison, to name a few. He also did more work with Olivia Newton-John, and to cap the decade off, filled the Wembley Stadium for a few nights with a spectacular simply titled "The Event".
The Shadows split in 1968.
The Shadows later re-formed (and later again split), and recorded on their own, but reunited with Cliff in 1978 and 1984 for some concerts.
Current status of the band members
- Cliff Richard - Cliff reached the pinnacle of his career when he was knighted. He also appeared in the 2002 list of 100 Great Britons (sponsored by the BBC and voted for by the public).
The Ultimate Pop Star, a Channel 4 programme screened in 2004, revealed that Cliff Richard had sold more singles in the UK than any other music artist, ahead of the Beatles in second place and Elvis Presley in third.
Sir Cliff has become joint owner of the Arora International Hotel in Manchester, which opens in June 2004.
- Ian Samwell - Ian Samwell went on to become a very influential producer, recording the Small Faces first album and also producing artists like Georgie Fame, John Mayall, and America.
- Tony Meehan - Tony Meehan went on to become a producer and A&R man for Decca, and was also present in the control room when the Beatles auditioned for Decca's Mike Smith (A&R man). The Beatles were impressed to meet Meehan but eventually Smith turned them down.
He also produced and wrote for the Who's Roger Daltrey.
- Brain Bennett - Brian Bennett went on to play with many stars such as Ella Fitzgerald and compose music for television.
- John Rostill - John Rostill went on to write for Olivia Newton-John and also play with others, until his death in 1973.
- John Farrar - John Farrar wrote for and produced Olivia Newton-John and also write the music with Tim Rice for Cliff's '90s stage musical "Heathcliff". He also wrote the music for the celebrated film Grease.
In 2004, The Shadows did their final tour in Britain (37 concerts). The last one, at London's Palladium, concluded their 45 year career. After having not performed as Cliff and the Shadows since 1989/1990, Cliff joined the Shadows on stage on June 14, 2004, at the London Palladium.
Also at this time, it was revealed that Bruce Welch and Brian Bennett were to receive the O.B.E. Marvin declined the same offer for personal reasons.
- Web site with excellent in-depth information relating to The Shadows (http://www.mcr26.freeserve.co.uk/)