Cliff Richard: 50th Anniversary Time Machine Tour

Programme Notes (Chronology), November 2008. Co-authored with Peter Lewry.

Cliff Richard: 50th Anniversary Time Machine Tour

MARCH 1958: Harry Webb and his backing group The Drifters make their first cabaret appearance at the Forty Hill Badminton Club Annual Dinner and Dance.

APRIL: Harry Webb and The Drifters play the 2i’s Coffee Bar in Soho for two weeks.

MAY: Following his name change from Harry Webb, Cliff Richard and The Drifters ‘Direct from the famous Soho 2i’s Coffee Bar’ play a concert at the Regal Ballroom in Ripley.

JUNE: Cliff and The Drifters recorded Lawdy Miss Clawdy and Breathless at a small studio above the HMV record shop in Oxford Street …Cliff and The Drifters make their second appearance at the Gaumont in Shepherds Bush. Agent George Ganjou is in the audience who takes their demo to Norrie Paramor, head of A&R at EMI Records’ Columbia label, who invites the group to audition for him.

JULY: Cliff and The Drifters play the Astoria Cinema in Ware, sharing the bill with a Kim Novak film… Norrie Paramor signs Cliff to a recording contract with Columbia Records, the day after Cliff records the seminal Move It. Two session players, guitarist Ernie Shear and bassist Frank Clarke are on the recording at Paramor’s insistence.

AUGUST: Cliff and the Drifters play a session of gigs at Butlin’s Holiday Camp in Clacton-on-Sea… By the end of the month Columbia release Cliff’s first single Schoolboy Crush / Move It but within a few days Columbia flip the disc after most radio DJs disregard Schoolboy Crush in favour of Move It.

SEPTEMBER: Cliff makes his first national TV appearance on Jack Good’s Oh Boy! He performs Move It and Don’t Bug Me Baby without his customary guitar and minus his sideburns. His stage act causes newspapers to complain about the depravity and corruption of the Young… Hank B Marvin and Bruce Welch replace Ken Pavey and Norman Mitham on guitars in Cliff’s backing group The Drifters.

OCTOBER: Cliff starts his first tour with The Kalin Twins at the Victoria Hall in Hanley… Cliff plays The Big Teenage Special with The Mudlarks. This would be the last time he would perform as a supporting act… Cliff signs a managerial contract with Franklyn Boyd on the same day he makes his BBC Radio debut on Saturday Club.

NOVEMBER: Cliff has his first national hit when Move It reaches No.2 on the New Musical Express and Disc Charts… Jet Harris joins The Drifters as bass player, replacing Ian Samwell who now moves into a songwriter and managerial supportive role… Cliff and The Drifters make their debut on the variety circuit at the Metropolitan Theatre in Edgware Road, London.

DECEMBER: Cliff’s second single High Class Baby enters the Record Mirror Top 20 at No.10. It peaks at No.5 three weeks later… Cliff commences work at MGM Studios in Borehamwood on his first motion picture, Serious Charge… Parlophone releases six of Cliff’s newly recorded tracks of rock ‘n’ roll material on a Various Artists compilation of Jack Good’s Oh Boy!