#200: Don’t Talk To Him by Cliff Richard
Cliff Richard was born Harry Roger Webb on October 14, 1940, in the city of Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, India. In 1940 Lucknow was part of the British Raj, as India was not yet an independent country. Webb’s father worked on as a catering manager for the Indian Railways. His mother raised Harry and his three sisters. In 1948, when India had become independent, the Webb family took a boat to Essex, England, and began a new chapter. At the age of 16 Harry Webb was given a guitar by his father. Harry then formed a vocal group called the Quintones. Webb was interested in skiffle music, a type of jug band music, popularized by “The King of Skiffle,” Scottish singer Lonnie Donegan who had an international hit in 1955 called “Rock Island Line”.
In 1958 Webb became the lead singer of a British rock group named the Drifters. It was during this time that Harry Greatorex, who was promoting the band, gave Harry Webb the stage name, “Cliff Richard.”As rock and roll made some people think of rocks, Greatorex reasoned that “Cliff” would be a rock solid name for the young 18 year old Harry Webb. Cliff Richard would go on to record nearly 150 singles that made it onto the UK charts. While his popularity in the USA was erratic, he was a big seller in Vancouver. On this survey of 1,410 songs he appears on 22 occasions.
Bruce Welch was born in 1941 in Bognor Regis, a seaside resort 55 miles southwest of London. He formed The Railroaders while he was still fourteen (before he turned 15 on November 2, 1956). His friend, Hank Marvin was one of the other three bandmates in The Drifters. Another member of The Drifters was Terrance “Jet” Harris, who was born in North West London in 1939. It was Harris who suggested to Cliff Richard that the band change their name to The Shadows in order to avoid confusion with the American R&B group, The Drifters, who were had a string of hit records beginning with “Money Honey” in 1953 and most recently with “There Goes My Baby” in 1959.
At the age of 16 Harry Webb was given a guitar by his father. Harry then formed a vocal group called the Quintones. Webb was interested in skiffle music, a type of jug band music, popularized by “The King of Skiffle,” Scottish singer Lonnie Donegan who had an international hit in 1955 called “Rock Island Line.” In 1958 Webb became the lead singer of a British rock group named the Drifters. It was during this time that Harry Greatorex, who was promoting the band, gave Harry Webb the stage name, Cliff Richard. As rock and roll made some people think of rocks, Greatorex reasoned that “Cliff” would be a rock solid name for the young 18 year old Harry Webb. Cliff Richard would go on to record nearly 150 singles that made it onto the UK charts.
Cliff Richard had his first single on the Vancouver charts peak at number one in the fall of 1959. “Living Doll” became an auspicious beginning for a recording artist. Fans in Vancouver were wild about Richards. He had a string of hits between 1959 and 1966, and again in the late 70s onward. Of 26 singles that charted on the Vancouver pop charts, only two didn’t climb into the Top 20.
In March 1961, Cliff Richard had his second number one hit record in Vancouver with “‘D’ In Love”. And in the spring of ’61 Richard was back in the Top Ten with “Theme For A Dream“. Eleven months later he was back in the Top Ten in Vancouver with “The Young Ones“.
And a year later Cliff Richard was roaring up the C-FUNTASTIC FIFTY in early spring 1963 with “Bachelor Boy”. From March 1963 to May 1966 Cliff Richard had 15 hit singles in the Top 20 on CFUN. Of these 12 made the Top Ten and three peaked at #1. After “Bachelor Boy”, Richard’s sixth Top Ten charting song in Vancouver was “Summer Holiday”, in May ’63. The songs overlapped with “Summer Holiday” entering the Top Ten on the C-FUNTASTIC FIFTY on April 27th at #10, while “Bachelor Boy” peaked at #5 that week. And with “Bachelor Boy”, Cliff Richard began charting for 81 of 85 consecutive weeks on the CFUNTASTIC FIFTY between March 9, 1963, and October 17, 1964.
In 1963 Richard won the Best UK Male Singer in the NME (New Musical Express) Reader Poll. In Vancouver, Cliff Richard’s follow up hit to “Summer Holiday” was “Lucky Lips” and simultaneously “It’ll Be Me”. This was a #2 hit in the UK in 1962 and #7 in Vancouver in the summer of ’63. While “Lucky Lips” climbed to #1 in Vancouver and #4 in the UK in the summer of ’63. Of the next eight singles after “It’ll Be Me”, seven made the Top Ten in Vancouver. One of these was “Don’t Talk To Him”, which began to chart on CFUN in Vancouver on January 11, 1964.
Released in November 1963, “Don’t Talk To Him” was written by Cliff Richard and Bruce Welch. Bruce Welch wrote a hit for Olivia Newton-John titled “Please Mr. Please”, which climbed into the Top Five in the USA and #1 in Canada in 1975. In 1989, Bruce Welch was a musical consultant for the Plymouth Theatre Royal production of Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story in London’s West End. In 1998 Welch produced Shadowmania, a one-day show comprising various Shadows tribute bands, with his own band, Bruce Welch’s Shadows, topping the bill. The event was so successful that it became an annual event Welch presented until 2012. In 2004 he was appointed to the OBE as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.
“Don’t Talk To Him” is a song concerning a guy who is far away from his girlfriend. While he’s away, he warns his girlfriend not to talk to any other guy who badmouths him. For example, if some guy approaches her and tells her that her boyfriend has been “seen walking ’round with Sue and Jean,” understand that “he’s lying again.” Presumably, it’s a pretty easy lie to spot. We can safely assume that Sue and Jean are locals who the girlfriend would know. And if her boyfriend is on the other side of the country, or in a foreign land, it’s not plausible that he’d be in the neighborhood walking around with Sue and Jean. Though it’s not stated in the song, there may be a history the boyfriend has with the guy whose “lying again.” And it seems the guy whose lying is motivated to break up the relationship, and win the prize of the girlfriend.
The conversation the boyfriend is having with his girlfriend, about the possibility of another guy badmouthing him, is taking place before he goes somewhere that is “far away.” So, she’s being forewarned. Though, interestingly, it isn’t a specific guy, but “some guy.” So, maybe there is a culture in the town where badmouthing goes on behind others’ backs. Bottom line: “just think of me and count to ten” and you’ll remember how strong the bond of love is between us, says the boyfriend in “Don’t Talk To Him”.
“Don’t Talk To Him” peaked at #3 in Edmonton (AB), and Regina (SK), #4 in Vancouver (BC), #5 in Ottawa (ON), #6 in Grande Prairie (AB), and Saskatoon (SK), #7 in Calgary (AB), and Saint John (NB), #11 in Toronto, and #13 in Montreal. Internationally, the single climbed to #1 in Ireland, New Zealand and Norway, #2 in the UK and West Germany, #3 in Australia, #5 in the Netherlands, #7 in Belgium, and #9 in Sweden.
Other hits in Vancouver for Cliff Richard in 1964 were “Constantly [L’Edera]“/”True True Lovin'” and “I’m The Lonely One“. The last of Cliff Richard’s eight consecutive Top ten hits in Vancouver was in the fall of 1964 with “On The Beach”.
Cliff Richard also had a Top Ten hit in Vancouver in 1965 with “Just Another Guy“, while the B-side “The Minute You’re Gone” stalled at #11. Then in 1966 Richard was back in the Top Ten with a cover of the Rolling Stones “Blue Turns To Grey“. While “I Don’t Wanna Love You” stalled at #14 in 1965.
In the UK Cliff Richard had 26 of his first 28 singles, from 1958 reach the Top Ten, which included a record of 23 Top Ten singles in a row, ending in the middle of 1965. Of these 15 singles were non-album singles. It would seem with the coming of the British Invasion that Cliff Richard would be discovered by the American record-buying public. However, it was not to be. He remained almost completely off the radar in the USA until his Top Ten hit in 1976 on the Billboard Hot 100 called “Devil Woman.”
In the late ’70s into the early ’80s he scored again with “We Don’t Talk Anymore” and “Dreamin’.” Other hits in the early ’80’s that did well in Vancouver were “A Little In Love” and “Wired For Sound”.
In 1982, he covered the 1961 doo-wop classic “Daddy’s Home” by Shep and the Limelights. The single was a Top Ten hit in Australia, Belgium, Ireland, New Zealand, and the UK.
In 1982 Richard released a contemporary/Christian album Now You See Me, Now You Don’t. The debut single, “The Only Way Out”, was a Top Ten hit in the Belgium, Ireland and the UK. In 1983 Cliff Richard and Phil Everly recorded a duet, “She Means Nothing To Me”, which was a Top Ten hit in Ireland and the UK. Richard also enjoyed a second Top Ten hit in both nations that year with his cover of the Buddy Holly tune “True Love Ways”. And an album marking his 25 years as a recording artist, Silver, featured a third Top Ten hit in Ireland and the UK in 1983 titled Please Don’t Fall in Love”.
In 1986, Cliff Richard released a new recording of his 1959 hit “Living Doll”. It became a number-one hit this time in Australia, Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the UK. As well, it made the Top Ten in Switzerland and Norway. And in 1986, Richard recorded a duet with Sarah Brightman titled “All I Ask of You”. It was a chart-topper in Ireland and South Africa, and a #3 hit in the UK.
During the 1980s, Cliff Richard had three number-one hits and 17 Top Ten hits in Ireland, and two number-one hits and 14 Top Ten hits in the UK. He had six Top Ten hits in Belgium and five Top Ten hits in Australia, with a #1 hit in each nation across the ’80s. And in the 1990s, Cliff Richard had 7 more Top Ten hits in the UK with “Savior’s Day” and “The Millennium Prayer” both topping the UK charts. And in the 2000s, the singer had five more Top Ten hits in the UK.
Cliff Richard was among the performers at the Diamond Jubilee concert held outside Buckingham Palace in June 2012. Then, on June 30, 2012, he helped to carry the Olympic torch from Derby to Birmingham as part of the torch relay for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Cliff Richard has also been active as a philanthropist. In October 2015 he went on tour at the age of 75. Over the course of his recording career, Cliff Richard has had 68 singles reach the Top Ten on the UK singles chart between 1958 and 2008.
In late June and early July, 2019, Cliff Richard celebrated his 60th year as a recording artist with his Diamond Encore Tour. He performed in the village of Cartmel in Cumbria, just south of Scotland. He gave a concert in Scarborough by the North Sea, and in Greenwich, London.
February 14, 2022
“Cliff’s Career,” Cliff Richard.org.
“Cliff Richard UK Singles chart discography,” official charts.com.
“Bruce Welch,” Wikipedia.org.
“C-FUNTASTIC FIFTY,” CFUN 1410 AM, Vancouver, BC, February 29, 1964.
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