Cliff Richard swipe at ‘arch-rivals’ Beatles for ‘behind steps behind Bee Gees’

Cliff Richard discusses why he chose to never get married

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The Summer Holiday singer, 80, made music history last year by becoming the first artist to have top five UK albums in eight consecutive decades. Sir Cliff is also the third top-selling musician in the UK Singles Chart, behind Elvis Presley and The Beatles. While Sir Cliff is a fan of the Fab Four today, in his early career he was in fierce competition with the Liverpool band.

At first, Sir Cliff thought he had nothing to worry about when he heard “some old cover” they had performed in their early years that “hadn’t sounded very good at all”.

But when the band came back from their 1962 Hamburg trip, Sir Cliff described how they “blew everybody away”.

During that time, he had become an “unofficial PR” person for the band and encouraged radio stations abroad to play their music. 

But he also kept a close eye on their success and was furious after they became extremely popular in the US, in 1964.

Sir Cliff vented to multiple managers over the years about why he never made it across the pond but in later life was relieved.

He said: “Today, on the whole, I’m grateful for this anonymity.”

Sir Cliff said that he “loved” meeting fans but loved “never getting a second glance” from the public in the US.

The battle to fame across the pond between Sir Cliff and The Beatles was not the only time they clashed. 

They were both signed to EMI Records and whenever they wanted to record at Abbey Road Studios, in London, the other was “supposedly recording”.

Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Cliff joked about the incident in later life. 

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While Sir Cliff considered The Beatles a competitor and threat to his hold over the UK, he grew to like them. 

After their US break following an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, Sir Cliff said: “The wind was behind them and this was their moment. 

“I didn’t begrudge The Beatles anything. They were a fantastic band who wrote amazing songs and they deserved all they got.”

In the Seventies, Sir Cliff’s came under fire from a new threat – the rise of punk music.

In Sir Cliff’s 2020 book The Dreamer, he claimed that their “ethos was confrontational” and admitted he didn’t like their lack of respect. 

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He wrote: “With bands sneering that more established performers such as Elvis, Rod [Stewart], Elton [John] and me were boring, old rubbish. 

“So I guess it’s hardly surprising that I couldn’t stand it! 

“But my main objection wasn’t the attitude, it was that the music itself wasn’t very good.”

Sir Cliff claimed The Sex Pistols “couldn’t play” and described Johnny Rotten as “well-named when it came to his singing voice”.

When the punk era came to an end, Sir Cliff was relieved.

The demise of the genre led him to think back to The Beatles and the pop-soul ground the Bee Gees.

He wrote: “By contrast, my favourite band of all time were huge in the mid-Seventies… I loved the Bee Gees! 

“They had an amazing wealth of songs and their harmonies were impeccable.”

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Sir Cliff then suggested that the Bee Gees played a bigger part in pop than previously understood. 

He said: “People talk about how The Beatles revolutionised pop and they did.

“But the Bee Gees were not far behind them, and in truth, many times were a step ahead.”

Sir Cliff’s “dream came true” years later in 2004, when his 32nd studio album Something’s Goin’ On was worked on by a former member of the band. 

He said: “Barry Gibb co-wrote it for me and produced it at his studio in Miami.

“Working with Barry from the Bee Gees, my all-time favourite band, bar none.

“My dream just kept finding more and more ways to come true.”

Sir Cliff Richard’s autobiography, The Dreamer, was published by Ebury Press last year. It is available here. 

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