Cliff Richard | His age, songs and real name

We look at the secrets behind Sir Cliff Richard's amazing success and why we’ve loved him for all these years

Cliff Richards

by Emily Gilbert |

Devil Woman, Summer Holiday, Wired for Sound...who can believe it’s been over 60 years since a charming young lad called Cliff Richard came on the airwaves with his funky debut song called Move It, shooting him to stardom? While he didn’t know it at the time, that song that hit number two in the charts, kickstarted his career as one of the most successful – and not to mention nicest – artists in history, selling over 250 million records worldwide and becoming the third top-selling artist in UK history.

But just what is it that’s made Cliff such a star? We take a look at what we think have been the wonderful ingredients to his international success.

How old is Cliff Richard?

Cliff was born on 14 October 1940, making him 80 years old.

Cliff Richard's family

Cliff's parents were Rodger Oscar Webb, a manager for a catering contractor that serviced the Indian Railways, and his mother was Dorothy Marie Dazely. While Cliff was born in India, the Webb family left India In 1948, moving to Carshalton.

Cliff Richard's love life

Dubbed a lifelong bachelor, Richard has led a colourful love life which included relationships with Australian dancer Delia Wicks, actress Una Stubbs and former French Open tennis champion Sue Barker. Cliff has also admitted that in the 1970s he was in love with the singer and actress Olivia Newton-John but it simply wasn't to be: "At the time when I and many of us were in love with Olivia she was engaged to someone else. I'm afraid I lost the chance."

What is Cliff Richard's real name?

Cliff was actually born Harry Rodger Webb at birth. He later went on to change his name. Cliff was chosen because it sounded like 'cliff face', which suggested 'rock.' The surname 'Richard' was chosen as a tribute to Clive's musical hero Little Richard.

Cliff Richards and band
©Alamy

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Cliff Richard's early career

From the very beginning, Cliff has always been true to himself, even when that didn’t fit the mould of what everyone thought a pop star should look like.

Throughout the throughout the Sixties and Seventies especially when singers were meant to be wild and rebellious, Cliff strayed even further from the stereotypes, instead claiming that “rock ‘n’ roll can manage without the sex and drugs.”

He’s previously credited his parents for these disciplined values and the moral upbringing to help him survive the temptations of a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle as well as his Christian faith which has been a hugely important part of his image and popularity.

His religion has also been a big drive behind his career as he’s claimed God has helped him through both the great times and the more challenging ones. In fact, he spoke out recently at the end of some of his darkest years following the BBC investigation into child-sex abuse claims - which were proved false- to say his faith has become stronger than ever. Speaking to Premier Christian Radio he said "I kept thinking to myself: 'I wonder how people who say they're atheists, how can they cope with something like this?'

When you're a Christian you know that you could speak to God whenever you want to, and I did.”

In-fitting with these Christian values, he’s also gained a name as a man of real heart and generosity, as a huge supporter of a number of charities including Tearfund, Street Child Africa and Alzheimer’s Research UK, after his late dear mum Dorothy suffered from the disease for many years. Since 1966 it’s also been reported that he gives away a tenth of his income to charity saying “those of us who have something to offer have to be prepared to give.”

And having kept so many wonderful friends for many years, from Olivia Newton-John to Gloria Hunniford and Bonnie Tyler, we can’t help thinking he must be a great friend – another wonderful quality we can’t help but love.

Cliff Richards and Gloria Hunniford
©Alamy

Cliff Richard's fans

There are few artists who could boast a fanbase quite as dedicated as Sir Cliff’s and it’s these loyal followers who have helped ensure his success decade after decade. As a lifelong bachelor boy with dashing good lucks, there were few teenage girls of the Fifties and Sixties who didn’t have a Cliff poster on their bedroom wall – often covered in telling lipstick marks. And as those teenagers have grown up, millions have remained committed to their first love, buying every album and attending every concert religiously, maybe, we wonder, because this Peter Pan of pop, as he’s so often called, reminds us of those halcyon youthful days when our biggest worry was whether you loved Cliff more than your best mate.

But it’s not just a one-way relationship as Cliff has always worked tirelessly to ensure his fans are happy, regularly releasing new work and heading off on tours, even at a time when other musicians might retire or rest on the success of their previous work. From films to TV shows to trying new genres of music, he’s always liked experimenting but as arguably one of the hardest working people in showbusiness, he’s never, ever left his fans in the lurch.

Cliff Richards album
©Alamy

Cliff Richard and Elvis Presley

While you may have assumed that Cliff and Elvis Presley's paths would naturally have crossed, you'd be wrong!

Speaking on The Jonathan Ross Show, Cliff revealed: “I was doing an interview in America when I was promoting ‘Devil Woman’ and the journalist said to me, ‘Your influences?’ and I said, ‘If there had been no Elvis, there’d have been no Cliff Richard’."

"‘Would you like to meet him?’ was the next question and I said, ‘Yeah I would love to meet him.’ He said, ‘I can arrange it but the photographs would have to be absolutely just for my newspaper’ and I said, ‘As long as I can have a copy at the end, that’s fine.’

"At the end of the interview he said, ‘Shall we arrange it?’ I said, ‘Let’s wait’ because Elvis had gone through a period of putting on a lot of weight and I just thought, if I’m going to have me and Elvis on my refrigerator, I’d really like him to look good."

And as a result, the meet-up did not go ahead. " I regret it now because he died not long after that. I think none of us knew that was going to happen," said Cliff.

"I was stupid really and I regret it to this day. I’d love to be able to say to you, ‘Yes I did meet Elvis’ but I didn’t.”

Cliff Richard songs

Having spent 970 weeks of his life in the top 40, Cliff is the only act to have had a number one single in the UK in five consecutive decades.

Here are the songs that took him to the heady heights of number one in each decade:

Fifties

Living Doll

Travellin’ Light,

Sixties

Please Don’t Tease

I Love You

The Young Ones

Bachelor Boy

Summer Holiday

The Minute You’re Gone

Congratulations

Seventies

We Don’t Talk Anymore

Eighties

Living Doll

Mistletoe and Wine

Nineties

Saviour’s Day

The Millennium Prayer

VIDEO: Cliff Richard singing Devil Woman

Cliff Richard's albums

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Cliff Richard's films

Cliff has starred in numerous films throughout his career. These include Finders Keepers, Wonderful Life, Summer Holiday and The Young Ones.

Cliff Richard on Eurovision

Cliff has actually taken part in the Eurovision Song Contest twice so far. The first time was 1968 in London with the song Congratulations. He finished second by 1 vote behind Spain.

His second appearance was at the 1973 contest in Luxembourg where he performed the song Power To All Our Friends. He ended up in third place.

Cliff Richard on social media

Unfortunately Cliff is not on social media although there are plenty of fan pages you can follow for the latest Cliff Richard news.

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