Cliff Richard discusses why he chose to never get married
The Millenium Prayer singer rose to fame several years before The Beatles but admitted he didn’t think “they were very good at all”, when he first heard them. Later, Sir Cliff claimed to have been an “unofficial PR man” for the band but also feared they would usurp him in the charts. The 80-year-old regularly felt frustrated by the Fab Four’s success in the US and on one occasion came to blows with Sir Paul McCartney.
Sir Cliff remains one of the nation’s most successful singers after selling more than 21.5 million singles in the UK alone.
In the UK Single Chart, he is the third best selling artist – falling behind The Beatles, who are at the top, and Elvis Presley in second.
Sir Cliff has had 130 singles, albums and EPs reach the UK Top 20, which is more than any other artist, during more than six decades in the music industry.
Last year, he also made history by becoming the first musician to have a UK Top 5 album in eight consecutive decades.
Cliff Richard and Paul McCartney used to clash because The Beatles ‘always recorded’ in Abbey Road
Cliff Richard and Paul McCartney made up in later years but for a while they were ‘arch-rivals’
Despite his undeniable achievements, for many years Sir Cliff was extremely jealous of The Beatles.
Sir Cliff was fuming after Sir Paul, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr earned international fame from an interview in the US.
He vented at his then-manager Peter Gormley for not having the same success when he went on The Ed Sullivan Show three years before The Beatles in 1964.
Sir Cliff, who described himself as being “fed-up of their ubiquity”, moaned: “Every time I open a paper, all I read about is The Beatles.
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“It’s ridiculous! Has everyone forgotten me? What’s going on?”
Mr Gormley reassured the singer by asking him if he still booked concerts, sold-out venues and had Top 10 singles – all of which he replied “Yes” to.
The manager then said: “So what the bloody hell are you worrying for then, mate? There’s room for everyone.”
Sir Cliff later admitted that Mr Gormley “was absolutely right” and “The Beatles’ success was a daft thing” for him to “get het [sic] up about”.
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Cliff Richard was frustrated that he could never savour the same US success as The Beatles
In earlier years, Sir Cliff had been more supportive of The Beatles and when they met for the first time at a house party in 1963 they shared a joke about their rivalry.
Sir Cliff recalled: “John Lennon was very funny and asked me to delay releasing my next single to give their follow-up to Please, Please Me a chance.”
Before the Imagine singer’s death in 1980, he also said: “Before Cliff and the Shadows, there had been nothing worth listening to in British music.”
In later years, Sir Paul confessed that “the main reason” The Beatles went to Hamburg, Germany, was because of Sir Cliff.
He said: “Cliff and The Shadows had got everything sewn up in Britain.”
The Beatles became huge is the US after their 1964 interview on The Ed Sullivan Show
In The Dreamer, Sir Cliff’s 2020 autobiography, he claimed to know he was “doing well” but never believed he was such a threat to The Beatles.
He continued: “I didn’t know we were forcing our competition to emigrate! Well, for whatever reason, it worked for them… They were tremendous.”
In the Sixties, they came to blows when trying to record new material – Sir Cliff was working on his Good News and The Beatles on Magical Mystery Tour.
He said: “They are forever associated with Abbey Road studio two.
“Yet, amusingly, Paul McCartney told me they always felt that I was EMI’s favourite, and they could only use it if I wasn’t’ there.”
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Sir Paul told him: “Every time we phone up to book it, we get told, ‘No, you can’t have it – Cliff is using it!’”
Sir Cliff found his response “funny” and explained: “Every time I ask to use it, they always say that you are in there.”
While the two laughed it off later – for a time Sir Cliff found it incredibly frustrating.
Sir Cliff considered The Beatles as his “arch-rivals” but he didn’t always feel that way about the band.
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When asked whether he thought they would “be huge” by a South African DJ, he responded: “I shouldn’t think so, their name just sounds like something you tread on!”
Sir Cliff noted that it wasn’t his “finest prediction” and always wondered what would have happened if he travelled to Hamburg rather than The Beatles.
He said: “In my idle moments, I occasionally wonder, ‘What would have happened had it been the other way round?
“Well, it’s all speculation. We’ll never know.”
Cliff Richard: The Dreamer was published in October last year and is available to purchase here.