Sunday, October 18, 2009

Who was your first?

I believe that a decade and some before I was born these gentlemen were a popular beat-combo in the Hit Parade.

The Shadows spilt up two years before I was born, but Cliff has been going strong since then. In my teens my family attended a fairly fundamentalist Pentecostal church and I came of musical age (to the extent I ever did) in an environment where we were encouraged to bin certain albums because, if played backwards at a certain speed, they screeched out in a rather un-coordinated way, 'Worship the Devil'. Early in my teens I learned to ignore certain advice as being, well, mad. But of course there was no pressure, peer, parental or pastoral to bin the born again Cliff Richard. Indeed, I found out recently that my Mum was at the Billy Graham rally at Earls Court when he 'came out' as a born again Christian.
Fortunately I was a teen when Radio 1 would still play him and well before the singing of Congratulations at a rainy Wimbledon. (Which, I feel the need to point out, he only ever did once, by request, and that everyone there thought it was great.) I came in at Wired for Sound ( think roller skates and cassette walkmans) which was the first record I ever bought. With the assistance of my church youth leader, who traded second hand albums on a local market ( and from his car boot after youth club) and the further assistance of pious congregation members with hazy concepts of copyright law, I began to collect the back albums either in slightly battered original format or on bootleg cassette.


At the end of my first year at University, I went with said youth group to Spain where we met up with a church there and stood in various squares making music and bemusing locals. Oh and sunbathing which is what we really wanted to go for. There, I met Dennis who went to school with the English pastor of the church there. I did not feel instant attraction but he offered to help me complete my collection. This was a particularly important contact as he, had access to the hastily withdrawn Honky Tonk Angel track. We began to write and continued to do so even after I had a full collection.


I left University at Hull, went to Cambridge for an M.Phil and then letters continued. I moved to Chester for College of Law and he rang. He had bought tickets for Cliff in Belfast. If I sorted my flight out he would pay for the tickets. Only he didn't know what night I could go when he booked,as he could not wait to find out as they sell like half price Kaffe Fassett fabric at Festival and he had had to source them from Dublin to get them. So he had seats for two consecutive nights. I confess. The excitement got to me. There are incriminating photos of Cliff holding up red roses I threw onto the stage.


Sadly, despite the roses Cliff was not interested, but things did develop between Dennis and I and by the end of the year we were engaged. At our wedding our second hand album selling best man procured us a personal note from Cliff to read out with the telegraphs.
Since then we have seen him several times. At the stroke of the Millenium I was in the National Indoor Arena holding up my mobile phone so my Mum could hear him singing Millenium Prayer. I no longer collect his albums because of course Dennis does. Now I know that all over the world people will be rolling their eyes and shouting "Naff! Naff!" at the computer screen. But I tell you, If when I am 69 I can still belt out several consecutive full energy rock songs and get tens if thousands of people to come and see my art I shall be happy. And very surprised, because at the age of 39 I cannot belt out several consecutive full energy rock songs.

The photos of course originate from the Cliff and the Shadows concert at the MEN arena tonight (for blog entries like this I bought a good zoom). So come on, 'fess up. What was the first record you bought and would you be seen dead at a Cliff concert?

17 comments:

Gerrie said...

I know nothing of Cliff, but if you like him, I would go. My first record was probably early rock and roll. Really early.

The best thing about this post is that I have learned some very interesting things about you that I did not know.

Kristin L said...

Yes -- very revealing.

I have no clue who Cliff is either, and as it's not a generational thing, it must be a geographical one.

The first album I bought with my very own money was by "The Waitresses," and I was firmly ensconced in 80s music. However, 70s folk and rock had a place in my collection too as I had snagged several albums from my parents (to include the Beatles White Album).

floribunda... aka Julie said...

my first album was Meet the Beatles -- I was on my way to a classical music concert with my dad when I bought, and he was mortified. Eventually (around the White Album) he came around to appreciate them!

Brenda said...

My first album was something by ABBA. My first concert was Jesus Christ Superstar when I was ten (with Jon English and Marcia Hines). I have no desire to go to a Cliff Richard concert but enjoyed your story.

Laura Jane said...

Ooh, Helen, what a fascinating insight into your background.

Hmm, Cliff Richard. I am 9 years older than you and have similar 'wired for sound' related memories, but I also recall him before the Shadows broke up.

I don't think I would be seen at a Cliff concert, but you never know. I could be persuaded to accompany a friend, .... although not as far as Ireland.

I do have a personal memory of Cliff Richard though. I used to work in a big posh trendy restaurant here in Perth Western Australia in the early eighties. He was in town and came to dinner, and I looked after his table. He was very courteous and friendly, and he had the grilled crayfish for a main course. My arm has brushed his. We have had unscripted conversation, and an informal laugh or two, on a purely professional basis. Fun, eh?

As for my taste in albums, I used to receive albums for birthday presents and the like. I got one by a band called the Little River Band, Diamantina Cocktail, which I LOVED and played endlessly. I also was a mad Queen fan, and saw them perform live when I was 15y.o.

My most recent concert was Michael Buble - who I THOROUGHLY recommend. What a showman, what a voice, swoon.

Garnered Stitches said...

My first concert at the age of 11 years was Cliff's at Southport. I went for a number of years - October time at Southport. One year I walked down to the front of the stage, while he was singing, holding a birthday card. He didn't take the card off me, so I left it on the stage and went back to my seat and once he had finished the song he thanked me!
I have had to keep my Cliff concert going days to myself for a number of years - it's good to confess!
Talking of confessions my first album was on tape format and it was...Leo Sayer's greatest hits!
best wishes

sandra wyman said...

Not a great Cliff fan like you - Beatles and Stones more my thing - and I adored the Mommas and Poppas. But the first record I bought was believe it or not Living Doll by guess who!

First concert was one of the Jack Gold (?) concerts with Cliff, Marty Wilde, Billy Fury, the Shadows and just about everybody who was anybody: went with local youth group (too young to join but they let me and my friend buy spare concert and coach tickets)

tangoandcha said...

I think probably an LP of Vivaldi's Piccolo Concertos which had been the theme tune of "Listen With Mother" the previous week. I still have the lapel badge of a lute that the shop owner gave me!

I'd go to a Cliff concert quite happily with someone who was a fan, but he was scarcely a soundtrack to my youth!

Feather on a Wire said...

My first album I paid for myself was Janis Joplin. First single was Rolling Stones.
I wouldn't be seen dead at a Cliff Richard Concert.
Each to their own.

Gina said...

I never needed to play my albums backwards, as a Black sabbath and Deep Purple fan there was enough going on when you played them forwards.
But my heart belongs to Sammy Davis Jnr. I rememberseeing him on TV as a girl and the first song I knew all the words to was the Candy Man. Well him and Steve Morse, the guitarist in Deep Purple, but that's a long hair thing.

Love and hugs Gina xxx

Karen said...

Never heard of Cliff, but my first concert was John Stewart who no one remembers. My first album was Sgt. peper which my brother gave me because he wanted to borrow it. My last concert was Sting and Annie Lennox at the Hollywood Bowl which was amazing.
And Gerrie and Kristin are right, we really don't know you well at all!

janet said...

Interesting post Helen.
1. I would not be seen dead at a Cliff concert although my best friend at school loved him.
2. The photos you have taken are superb - any I take at such events are shocking.
3. The first record I bought was by Donny Osmond!
4. I suspect my Dad was at that Billy Graham rally - he still talks about it now!
5. The last concert I went to was the 'Bad Shepherds' featuring Ade Edmondson singing punk in a folky way!

Joyce said...

"would you be seen dead at a Cliff concert?"

It is the only circs in which I would be there!

AmosSews said...

Rock on, Sister!!
I was a Donny Osmond fan in my early teens and progressed to Yes and Led Zeppelin! Funny thing is, there are some people who you can't help but sing along with and Cliff's one of them.

Christine said...

Well, as it happens, the first record I bought was indeed by Cliff. It was a 45 of "Please Don't Tease". When he was still being the British Elvis. I still have it and I still think it's fab. But I've never been to a live rock concert (only because I'm not happy in big crowds and a low noise tolerance) - one of those missed experiences that you slightly regret.

Julie said...

I was seen very much alive at Cliff's Sheffield concert last Thutsday and it was fantastic, I clapped my hands sore and shouted and sang my head off! I have liked Cliff and The Shadows since the days of The Young Ones and love his music. I actually saw him when I was 18 at a Methodist Youth Club London Weekend when he performed for us at the Albert Hall. I only had a back view but I can still remember the thrill!

You have to admire his vocal ability and stamina now and The Shadows sounded as good as ever.

katelnorth said...

The first record I bought was Enough is Enough by Donna Summer and Barbra Striesand - but that was a full size single; the first actual album I bought was the Grease soundtrack. I still know all the words and am not ashamed to sing them aloud. Being a Yank in origin, I didn't encounter Cliff until well into adulthood - I'm not a fan, particularly, but I confess to having other musical interests which might be considered naff (for instance, Neil Diamond, who is the first person I ever saw in concert - with parent in tow, as it happens!)