Share a Dream – Cliff Richard

Cliff Richard

As with the other existing rock acts in Britain, Richard’s career was affected by the advent of the Beatles and the Mersey sound in 1963 and 1964. He continued to be popular, and have hits in the charts throughout the 1960s, though not at the level that he had enjoyed before. Nor did doors open to him in the US market; he was not considered part of the British Invasion, and despite four Hot 100 hits (including the top 25 “It’s All in the Game”) between August 1963 and August 1964, the American public had little awareness of him.

Although baptised as an Anglican, Richard did not practise the faith in his early years. In 1964, he became an active Christian, and his faith has become an important aspect of his life. Standing up publicly as a Christian affected his career in several ways. Initially, he believed that he should quit rock ‘n’ roll, feeling he could no longer be the rocker who had been called a “crude exhibitionist” and “too sexy for TV”. Richard intended at first to “reform his ways” and become a teacher, but Christian friends advised him not to abandon his career just because he had become an active Christian. Soon after, Richard re-emerged, performing with Christian groups and recording some Christian material. He still recorded secular songs with the Shadows but devoted a lot of his time to Christian work, including appearances with the Billy Graham crusades. As time progressed, Richard balanced his faith and work, enabling him to remain one of the most popular singers in Britain as well as one of its best-known Christians.

Richard’s 1965 UK No. 12 hit “On My Word” ended a run of 23 consecutive top ten UK hits between “A Voice in the Wilderness” in 1960 to “The Minute You’re Gone” in 1965, which, to date, is still a record number of consecutive top ten UK hits for a male artist.  Richard continued having international hits, including 1967’s “The Day I Met Marie”, which reached No. 10 in the UK Singles Chart and No. 5 in the Australian charts.

Richard acted in the 1967 film Two a Penny, released by Billy Graham’s Worldwide Pictures, in which he played Jamie Hopkins, a young man who gets involved in drug dealing while questioning his life after his girlfriend changes her attitude. He released the live album Cliff in Japan in 1967.

In 1968, he sang the UK’s entry in the Eurovision Song Contest, “Congratulations”, written and composed by Bill Martin and Phil Coulter; it lost, however, by one point to Spain’s “La La La”. According to John Kennedy O’Connor’s The Eurovision Song Contest—The Official History, this was the closest result yet in the contest and Richard locked himself in the toilet to avoid the nerves of the voting.  In May 2008, a Reuters news report claimed that voting in the competition had been fixed by the Spanish dictator leader, Francisco Franco, to ensure that the Spanish entry won, allowing them to host the contest the following year (1969). It was claimed that Spanish TVE television executives offered to buy programmes in exchange for votes, as well as contract unknown artists.  The story was widely covered and featured on UK’s Channel 4 News as a main story on 7 May 2008, with Jon Snow interviewing author and historian John Kennedy O’Connor about the matter.  However, the allegations turned out to be untrue as it was a widely repeated rumour instigated by TVE.  Nevertheless, “Congratulations” was a huge hit throughout Europe and Australia, and yet another No. 1 in April 1968.

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