When I was asked by the publishers to write the foreword to this book on Cliff, I felt very privileged and excited, particularly when a fee was mentioned, sadly it hasn’t been mentioned again. This oversight though has in no way diminished my enjoyment and appreciation of Mike Read’s painstakingly researched diary-style account of Cliff professional activities.
Back in September 1958 when a seventeen-year-old Cliff and an even younger Drifters (as we were known then) had our first rehearsal in the front room of Cliff’s parents’ home in Hertfordshire, I felt even then he had a special quality, something different to the rest of us, then suddenly it hit me, he had no pimples. Nevertheless an enduring friendship developed and today as I read through the Chronicle of the early period of his career, a time when he and the Shadows were inseparable, the memories came flooding back. Situations long forgotten and never before published were recalled vividly, such as the time in Germany when after a show, which had ended in a riot complete with police water cannon etc, Cliff and the Shadows took over the best club in town and fell asleep with a cup of cocoa. Exciting times.
The details of recording sessions, films, broadcasts and other information that Mike’s collaborators Nigel Goodall and Peter Lewry have obtained are truly amazing – take the recording sessions for example. We are told the dates, the studios used, the titles recorded and whether they turned out to be A-sides, B-sides, foreign releases or were unissued. The names of musicians, the producer, and even the session times, i.e. 7.00pm-10pm are given. Do I sound impressed? I am, but despite this evidence of diligent detective work, I was just a little surprised, disappointed even, that more effort was not put into unearthing the really important session details, such as what times were the tea breaks? How long were they? Who took sugar and who didn’t?
Seriously though, I congratulate everyone involved in producing this ripping idea of a book (wish I’d thought of it) that chronicles the career of a great star and is a must for every one of his admirers. Now about that fee.