Cliff Richard: The Young Ones Page 2

A legal claim to the name by an American soul band led to a change from The Drifters to The Shadows. Initially paid session fees to play on Cliff's recordings, as an instrumental group they were big in their own right, earning their first No 1 hit single in 1960 with 'Apache'. And musically The Shadows were an exceptional unit, having, in Hank Marvin, a particularly inventive guitarist who played beautifully articulated, song-like melodic lines.


Promo shot of the singer from 1987 used to promote his Top 5 album Always Guaranteed

Stage And Screen
By 1960, the teenage Cliff Richard had become a huge star, his No 1 singles accompanied by a season at the London Palladium, TV specials and an appearance at The Royal Variety Performance. He had already made his film acting debut by that point – with The Shadows in Serious Change in 1959 – and followed it later that year with Expresso Bongo. Directed by future Hammer Horror stalwart Val Guest, and again featuring Cliff's backing band, this was based on a successful West End musical that satirised the music business.


Cliff on the sleeve of Expresso Bongo, the soundtrack to the 1959 film of the same name

Richard's image was prominent on the posters, which proclaimed it a celebration of 'Brit Beat'. In the days of limited TV ownership, starring a singer in a movie was an effective promotional vehicle, encouraging album, concert ticket and merchandise sales. The film The Young Ones, released in December 1961 with its soundtrack album close behind, helped make Cliff Richard a household name, and began his smooth transition from rock 'n' roll star to all-round entertainer.


Hank Marvin, The Shadows’ lead guitarist, in 2007

With its youth culture themes, The Young Ones was likely heavily influenced by West Side Story, which had yet to be made into an Oscar-winning movie, but had played on the West End stage since 1957. Richard's film was fuelled by a similar youthful exuberance, but was far more humorous and light-hearted. The screenplay was by Peter Myers and Ronald Cass, who also penned some of the songs. The title track places Richard's cool, mellow voice within Marvin's guitar framework and inspired string arrangements by musical director Stanley Black. It's also beautifully 'produced and recorded', with a kind of sunny glow, by Norrie Paramor.


Cliff in 1960 during his teen idol phase

There's still a rock 'n' roll vibe to the lyrics of 'We Say Yeah', and The Shadows' musical prowess is brilliantly showcased on 'The Savage', which features Welch's strummed acoustic rhythm and Marvin's guitar lines punctuated by Tony Meehan's flamboyant snare rolls and tom-tom breaks (Meehan would be replaced by Brian Bennet in 1961). But at its core, The Young Ones has strong links with more mainstream musicals of the past.


The Shadows (l-r): Jet Harris, Bruce Welch, Brian Bennett, Cliff Richard and Hank Marvin.

The heroine, Toni – played in the film by Carole Gray but sung by Grazina Frame – delivers the heartfelt solo song 'No One For Me But Nicky'. She and Cliff then duet on 'Nothing's Impossible', over an arrangement full of colour and pizzazz that calls to mind a Hollywood production like High Society. There's also a big helping of vaudeville, with a song and dance routine featuring Stanley Black's Associated British Studios Orchestra and The Mike Sammes Singers.

Released by Columbia in early 1962, The Young Ones became the first soundtrack album to have three hits in the Top 10 – 'The Young Ones, 'When The Girl In Your Arms Is The Girl In Your Heart' and 'The Savage'. Not only that, the title track was the first ever single by a British artist to enter the charts at No 1, in January 1962. The soundtrack album itself spent 42 weeks in the UK chart, the longest of any of Cliff's albums.


Richard at a press conference in 1962

Cliff Continues
In a Record Mirror article from September 1963, which surveyed Cliff's then five-year-old career, David Griffiths predicted what the next five years might hold for him. 'They will be far more carefully planned than the last five. They are unlikely to be as spectacularly successful. For one thing, there's not much left for him to do that will have such big appeal.'

He also reckoned, quite rightly, that public taste can be fickle. 'New stars are coming up all the time. Somewhere, walking around, is the next Cliff Richard.' Yet this latter statement is not so accurate. Cliff Richard is one of the UK's best-selling artists with over 60 Top 10 singles to his name. And 49 years later, we're still waiting for his successor.