I knew all about Cliff ‘cos of Auntie Chris.
She’s still going strong, well into her seventies, but I’ll tell you what she lived the life. She married a bloke who was the spit of Stanley Baker and was a big fan of british rock and roll from day one.
And day one was Cliff Richard.
Sure Hank Marvin (his equally cool guitarist in backing band The Shadows) owned the first Fender Strat in Europe and milked it for the next decade, but Cliff had the quiff and the sneer and the lookee here…
He also had Move It, still one of those records that gets your attention for its snotty bravado and the air of genuine rock’n roll.
Auntie Chris taught me about this stuff; a straight talking “What-are-you-doin’-ere” Yorkshire woman and her husband Uncle Eric, my godfather, who was film star handsome and always put me in a wrestling headlock whenever I was close enough to be caught.
When I was a kid family parties were the thing, and the ever expanding brood would gather at one or another of the houses at Chritmas and New Year. Us kids watched from the banisters as the grown ups get pissed on Double Dimaond, Advocaat and BabyCham listening to all the sixties hits.
Auntie Chris was always quick to pick out the new Cliff, the British Elvis, and had us singing along to all hist hits, which, just like Elvis, sounded more and more mainstream to our younger ears.
Even a kid of seven knows that Old Shep, Batchelor Boy, Wooden Heart and Summer Holiday were all pretty facile. Which was Elvis and which was Cliff who cared when The Kinks and the Troggs were on.
Uncle Eric was a pretty cool bloke thinking back. He had the Brylcreen Bounce and had done National Service before joining the National Coal Board like almost all my family did. He was a lamp man at Rockingham when he passed away, barely a year into his hard-earned pension.
Eric lived to the soundtrack of British Rock and American country – Cliff Richard became a legend to me partly because of the unbridled enthusiasm of my aunt and uncle. It’s only just dawned on me that their first born son was called Richard.
Cliff took a lot of stick over the years, for reasons I couldn’t figure out. Sure he was a straight up pop guy, who seemed so squeaky clean he had a good honest target. But he kept a smile on his face and his feet on the stage.
“Well, let me tell you baby, it’s called rock ‘n’ roll”