The Shadows and Cliff
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The Musical Alternative Period(MAP) was within the late 50's and the very early 60's(pre- Beatles/Hollies/Stones era)..
The Brits were being outfought on the musical entertainment front by great American artists and million dollar marketing budgets, that included the "Bobby boys" ..Vinton..Rydell..Vee..Darin (just to name a FEW bobby's)and the "old" masters of romance and modern 'swing', Frank Sinatra..Nat'King'Cole..Johnny Ray..Frankie Laine.. Doris Day (writers fave) ..Perry Como..Rosemary Clooney (George's Aunt)..Peggy Lee..Pat Boone..Sam Cooke..Brook Benton..Wilson Pickett..Guy Mitchell.. Al Martino (Albert Martin the 'Italian Yank'... to the Brits:-)..
Followed by the fabulous Righteous Brothers..Everly Brothers..And thee REAL starter of "Roll and Roll" legendary Bill Haley and his Comets..Little Richard..Jerry Lee Lewis..Chuck Berry..Connie Francis..Brenda Lee..Chubby Checker..Tommy Edwards..Fats Domino..Buddy Holly(B.H...Most VIP and heavenly tutor for future Atlantic anglo-saxon battles)..and of course the best group singers(by a mile),the wonderful black trios(3)..quads(4)..quintets(5)..sextets(6)..septets(7)..
The Platters...The Drifters...The Flamingos...et al(and the list goes on and on)
White performers sang in harmony with their black country-wo/men..The Del-Vikings..The Mariners..The Crests..and the group named after my car "The Impalas"..Do they do that anymore??...and while we are asking question of importance "when was the last landing on the Moon by an American"....Wonder where India purchased their DIY kit..probably a Tel Aviv Tire Store.
The octets(8) and above had no chance whatsoever with a 60-125 Male-Voice Choir from Wales:-)
All this the Brits had to assimilate(absorb) and yet there were the kings and queens of musical euphony also to be factored into any impresario's successful plan of action.
The great Mario Lanza..Ella Fitzgerald..Gene Krupa..Buddy Rich..and Sammy Davis Jr..Duke Ellington..Louis Armstrong..Muddy Waters..et al... just to scratch the surface of an enviable nation(then) that threw every type of music to the world to listen to...before they substituted the weapon of persuasion.
Did you know that two Jewish blokes 'Bob Thiele' and 'George David Weiss' wrote Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World
Authoring/writing/composing a masterpiece ...and then discerning that one is unable to perform that work must be quite disquieting,frustrating and terribly lonesome... What the hell the 'blackman' will do it for us...What a difference it may have been if Theile and Weiss could have received just a few lessons and sung that song to the rest of the World..It would have been #1 for Eternity
One can anticipate that this writer(me) is having a little difficultness(just like the Fonze) in bracketing this whole kaleidoscope of talent with the limits of perfection...Indeed,there are limits..The Left bracket is taken by the King himself Elvisand the Right bracket, by the Man in Black ,the man with the greatest smile ever to caress an human face...Johnny Cash(beginning to sound like an anti-feminist here:-)
One may contemplate at this timely intermission as to 'What the Hell' does all these 'musical chairs' add up to..
I (the writer:-).. am looking for the right words(buying time:-) to begin the introduction of a very religious English singer and a group of English Musicians who were primarily the real beginning of Rock music in Britain.. Religion does not enter this discussion in any specific detail..If it does, then be assured that I will return to this paragrah and delete it ASAP:-)
"Cliff Richard" is a Rock and Roll..Pop and Ballad singer..He started in the late 50's with a group "The Drifters" who had to change their name "cos the Yanks got there first"..They(Jet Harris) chose "The Shadows"...Bruce Welch(rhythm guitar)-Jet Harris(bass guitar)-Tony Meenhan(drums) and Hank Marvin(lead guitar..ALWAYS L to R onscreen or the stage podium)..
The Shadows and particularly Cliff Richard were a very lonesome quintet,with a few others,that had partly prepared themselves for the continuing American Rock and Roll onslaught..They played 'live' the very first Roll and Roll song by any Brit to a substantial audience.Up until this time the likes of and likable Tommy Steele,Adam Faith.Billy Fury(and a few more with great surnames:-) ) were the only buffer between 78rpm and 45rpm record receipts leaving the country..Very few US entertainers visited or toured the British countryside (Bill Haley and Gene Vincent did)...Elvis never set foot in Britain, except once at an airport/airbase on his way to Germany to do his Army Service(1958/59)...and Cliff and the Shadows with most other Brit artists never at that time visiting the USA
The Government controlled BBC limited air time on the US artists,so the only radio station that the teenagers had was a "pirate" station called "Radio Luxemburg"..and that is where the US invasion anchored itself..Guess who owned that station ?
Normally lead singers are recognised by their distinctive sound/voice whilst the majority of instrumental Rock bands by the tune they are playing at that time and not necessarily by the instrument harmonics they are hearing.
The Shadows were very very different indeed..Their "sound" was unique with a kind of "new modern classical tone" emanating from a "solid guitar"... with the young budding guitarists spending many hours of study attempting to duplicate their haunting melodies...with little success..
Cliff Richard has gathered a #1 hit in EVERY decade since the 50's to the current Millenium..The Brits in the 50's who had now finally paid back the last dollar to the US...thanks to World War 2, were now buying the guitars from the States..cash up front and centre..
Cliff sings solo and plays guitar "Move it" late 1980's
It was Cliff Richard who bought Hank his very first "real solid " guitar...aka from Gene Vincent's manager and Hank modified it accordingly..Cliff has no intentions of slowing down when he hits 70 this year(2010)..He has already arranged to take part in an event that he has performed nearly ALL HIS LIFE.."Dirt Bike Competitions"
Cliff introduces Jet Harris(Bass Guitar) and Tony Meehan(drums)..They left the original "Shadows"(Drifters)in the 60's.......again " Move It"
The secret was the echo and tremelo features of the instruments that lead guitarist and Britains answer to "Buddy Hollie", Hank Marvin developed..initially founded(to a lesser degree) by the great "Gene Vincent" while touring the British Isle in the 50's..
..."In 1960, they recorded and released "Apache". Reaching the top of the charts in more than one country, the single set The Shadows on a path of their own. They thereafter had several major hits, including five UK No. 1s. The band also continued to appear and record with Richard and wrote many of his hits. On more than one occasion, a Shadows' instrumental replaced a Richard song at the top of the British charts."..Wiki
Playing melodic string notes while at the very same instant continiously having to bend the note with the "tremelo arm" takes a lot of practice to master..Back in the 50's the guitar strings were steel- chrome plated and they did not afford much success when pushing them to one side to increase a half tone..and were totally useless if rapid vibrato were required..Think of dipping the tips of your fingers into a cement bucket and leaving them set..
The Shadows version of the instrumental"APACHE" became the "National Anthem" for the Hip/Hop Rap DJ's generation(their quote) in the 70's and 80's..The 'muffing sound" in this tune is /was performed by placing the base of the palm very lightly against the string/strings while they are vibrating..TODAY IT IS DIFFERENT.
A two hour gig would be out of the question then..Hence the "lever" below the strings that lowers the note when one push down on it and raise the tone if you pull on it..Do that changing tempo between quickly or slowly and you can take a standard tune and make it sound completely different YET not loose the original intended melody...just like what a good jazz singer can do.
And here is Cliff..Bruce and Hank in 2008 at the The Royal Variety Performance '08
The are all very close to their 70's (age that is)..Enjoy
The Shadows(Drifters)late 50's..Just Starting..From L to R- Bruce Welch(Rythmn Guitar),Jet Harris(Base Guitar),Hank Marvin(Lead Guitar),Tony Meaghan(Drums), with Cliff...all teenagers. Tony was just 16 years old/young(RIP)
Jet Harris "Besame Mucho" (1962)
When I first HEARD this artist perform(below) I thought that it was MAYBE Carlos Santana or to a lesser extent,Eric Clapton..Imagine my astonishment when I tracked down the video concert by this fantastic blonde female lead guitarist(Orianthi Panagaris)last seen on stage with the late great Michael Jackson in what was to be their final rehearsal prior to their British 50 date concert engagement...the day before he died...An Australian and an American whoooing the Brits..Good stuff...
In 1986 Hank Marvin and his family moved from Britain to the suburbs of Perth, Australia..Did Orianthi 'pick-up' some tips from Old Hank..All Good Stuff.