About 20 years ago I realised the danger of dissing Cliff Richard. I spotted a calendar on a colleague's wall and stated the bleedin' obvious "I see you're a Stiff fan then."
The woman lept to her feat and her face turned purple as she spewed out "AND WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM WITH THAT?" I muttered something and beat a hasty retreat, expecting to be struck by lightning.
A few weeks' later I started getting material through the post from the Cliff Richard Organisation. The mailshots have continued unabated to this day and I'm too scared to try and stop them as I reckon it would be like killing an albatross. The most recent was typical - promoting Cliff's 'Solacious' tour and offering coach trips and hotel rooms at discounted prices to watch the man in action. The thought of Cliff singing soul is even more bizarre than that of the Sex Pistols recording an albums of hymns.
But I'll confine my comments to (mainly) positives.
1) Cliff is actually a decent guitarist and much underrated in this regard.
2) He allowed (probably had no choice) The Shadows to prosper. They in turn did a superb job of backing him vocally and instrumentally and writing a lot of his material.
3) In 1960 he and the Shadows released one of the defining albums of early British rock Me & My Shadows
. (Actually it annoys me no end when people say that there was no life before the Beatles. Believe me there was plenty.)
4) In the 50s and for much of the 60s Cliff released some good British pop. And there was a second coming in what I call the Miss You Nights & Devil Woman era.
I'll draw an veil over most of the rest.
5) Cliff enjoys a great deal of fanatical support - and I'm talking real fans, not pretenders like Russ! Cliff's was the best selling celeb calendar of 2011.
6) He is leaner and clearly much fitter than I am - the sod.
But for me his longevity means little.Marty Wilde always was and still is a much better singer from that era. Tom Jones and Robert Plant have got better with age (like Tony Bennett).
Hank Marvin, my number one inspiration, now lives in Australia and plays gypsy jazz. seehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sG4C6yiOR4M