Today’s music video is Living Doll and the song is performed here by the ageless English singer Cliff Richard and his backing band The Drifters.
This video was posted to You Tube by MultiCoolermaster
I wonder how many of you read the first line and didn’t notice the name of the band, and now that your attention is drawn to it, you’re thinking that Cliff Richard’s backing band was The Shadows.
Well, this is the song that necessitated that name change, and while the band’s name may have changed, virtually every person in this band had a name change, so it was not just restricted to the name of the band itself.
This outfit started out life as Harry Webb and The Drifters. Harry Webb was the main game here, as his was going to be a pretty big solo career, but he needed a backing group. So they got together four others, and as they were young, and in the days long before professionalism before they even begin to play, and hopefully record songs, they did it all as they went along. Management, now aware that this guy might just have something, mentioned that a possible name change might help, so Harry Webb changed his name to Cliff Richard, Cliff because of its word association with rock, and Richard as a shout out to his music hero at that time Little Richard.
Their first Single was Move It, released in mid 1958, and it was a Top Ten Hit in the UK, peaking at Number Two, just missing that desired Number One Smash Hit. Harry modelled himself after the coming American singers at the time, wanting to introduce this new rock’n’roll music into the UK, and his early performances mirrored this. As the band was still learning their trade as professional musicians, only the drummer and a guitarist were used to back Cliff for this song, and the others were session musicians. Many years later, when the Beatles became huge, John Lennon is said to have commented that English Music prior to Move It was pretty much not worth listening to.
Over the next few songs, the lineup changed, as Cliff now became one of the hottest things in English music. The drummer was changed and Tony Meehan took that position. They needed someone for lead guitar, and they knew where they could find one. At that club, the man they were seeking that night was not there, but they noticed someone who could be even better than the one they were looking for. That was a 16 year old Hank Marvin, and when asked if he would like to join Cliff Richard’s backing band The Drifters, Hank mentioned he would, but only if they could also include his friend, the guitarist Bruce Welch. Then they also got in a dedicated Bass guitarist, Jet Harris, so now, Cliff Richard and The Drifters were settled with the lineup that existed for their early recordings and concerts for the next few years.
Cliff was the star, and his backing band The Drifters, were a separate entity, so they had their own separate contract, different from Cliff’s one.
They produced four more singles after that first one, and while each did relatively well, they didn’t do as well as the very first song. Their style was now distilling down to what was their final musical makeup.
Then along came this song, Living Doll. The song was composed by Lionel Bart for a movie, and was done in the format of light rock. At first, Cliff rejected the song, as he wanted to do what he termed as real rock’n’roll, and he thought that this song was not in that style. He had to be virtually ordered to do the song, even if he changed it. While rehearsing the song with the band, and not getting very far at all, Bruce Welch suggested that they do the song in a Country Style, about as far removed from rock as you could get at that time. They practised the song and actually ended up slowing the tempo down from the original.
The song was recorded and released in mid 1959, and absolutely rocketed up the charts all the way to Number One. It sold more than a million copies and was the biggest selling song of that year.
Now, Cliff Richard’s future was assured, as virtually everything he did from now on turned to gold, the biggest name in music in the UK.
I could have selected any one of a number of versions for this song, but I specifically wanted this one, showing a young Cliff Richard, and hey, were we ever really that young once.
Note in this clip that he is on his own, and as I mentioned, his was going to be the big career, and the band were just his backing band, a separate entity from him. I also wanted this clip because of the guitar he is shown playing here. This is a Fender Stratocaster, and while the clip is in black and white, it is that famed Cherry red Strat. Cliff, by now a huge star, actually sent off to America for this guitar he is using here. The Stratocaster had just been released by Fender, and this one is the first of those Strats to land in the UK. Cliff presented the guitar to Hank Marvin as a present. However, as the big star, and not wanting to be seen just standing there as a prospective rock musician, he used this guitar for the film clip. It’s pretty plain that he’s miming the song here, and the same is happening with the guitar as well, as it’s not even plugged in. While he makes all the requisite moves as a guitarist might, it’s also easy to tell that the actual guitar work being played is not what he is playing at all, but, hey, it looks the part. The song is the actual studio recording of the song.
Speaking of guitar firsts, the backing band also has another first, besides Hank and that famed Strat. Jet Harris, perhaps at that time, the driving force and most accomplished musician, other than the drummer Tony Meehan who already had a big career as a drummer, well Jet broke the neck on his Bass, and Fender presented him with a new Fender Precision Bass guitar, also the fist in the UK.
Okay then, what’s the story of the band’s name change?
It all started with this song.
Besides being a Number One smash hit in the UK, and in most of Europe, the song was the first hit for Cliff in the U.S. Where it went into the Top Forty, peaking at 30, and giving Cliff and the band recognition in the U.S. However, in the U.S. there was a pretty big band at the time with the name of The Drifters, and they threatened legal action if the band continued with that name. It was actually Jet Harris who came up with the name. While he and Hank Marvin were at the pub, (well, where else) Jet suggested the name The Shadows, and the name became their new name.
Cliff’s next Single was Travellin’ Light, which also went straight to Number One, only this time under the names of Cliff Richard And The Shadows.
Six Months later in mid 1960, The Shadows released their first Single as their own entity, without Cliff Richard, and that was Apache, which went straight to Number One as well. So now, both artists, Cliff Richard and also The Shadows had what was to become huge careers in music, at the very start of what later became The British Invasion.
So, the name change thing. Look at this.
The Shadows were originally called The Drifters.
Cliff Richard was originally called Harry Webb.
Tony Meehan, well, that is his name but the Tony part comes from the third of his Christian Names, Anthony.
Jet Harris is Terrence Harris and Jet is his nickname.
Bruce Welch was originally Bruce Cripps.
Hank Marvin was originally Brian Rankin. As a young boy, there were a lot of boys in his circle with the name of Brian, so he was called Hank to differentiate him from the others. The Marvin comes from a music hero of his at that time, Marvin Rainwater a Country singer from the U.S.
This lineup for The Shadows was to only last a short time, for three or four hits, all of them inside the Top Five in the UK with a second Number One, Kon Tiki.
The drummer Tony Meehan was the first to leave, replaced by Brian Bennett. Jet Harris was the next to leave replaced over the years by a number of different Bass guitarists. Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch stayed the longest, as this wonderful band had such a huge career over the years.
The band, along with Cliff Richard have appeared many times across the years in reunion concerts, and this following clip of that same original smash hit of theirs, Living Doll, shows just one of them, and have a look at the huge crowd to see what is basically a bunch of old guys. This is from the 2006 Reunion Concert.
That’s Cliff singing, with drummer Brian Bennett, and guitarists Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch also there as well, three of the original five members of this legendary outfit, and another from the band’s early days.
This video was posted to You Tube by adrian moss