Sir Cliff returns to Manila in style
- Joaquin M. Henson () - January 7, 2007 - 12:00am
There will never be another Cliff Richard and, while he continues to perform with his 50th anniversary as a recording artist coming up in August next year, fans of all ages make it a point to watch his timeless show for an unforgettable night of music.

He is called Sir Cliff because in 1995, the Queen of England knighted him at Buckingham Palace to recognize his achievements as a pop singer and for bringing honor to the British Empire. Sir Cliff was the first rock star to be honored, ahead of Paul McCartney (1997) and Elton John (1998).

Often called the Peter Pan of Pop, Sir Cliff will perform a program of his greatest hits and new songs in a must-see spectacular pre-Valentine’s Day concert at the Araneta Coliseum on Feb. 13.

It will be Sir Cliff’s third appearance in the country but his first in over 20 years. And he’s excited to bring back the memories of Summer Holiday, The Young Ones, Bachelor Boy, Miss You Nights, Ocean Deep, Constantly, The Minute You’re Gone, The Next Time, We Don’t Talk Anymore and From A Distance to his millions of Filipino fans.

Cliff turned 66 last Oct. 14 but you wouldn’t think it from his looks.

In 1960 when his singing career was on the verge of exploding, he said his dream was to become Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up. "I’m going to stay young as long as I can," he said.

And in his heart and soul, Cliff has remained young. It’s the secret of his longevity. No other pop star has been able to connect to fans of different generations. No other pop star has been able to sell more singles in England, outdoing the Beatles and Elvis Presley. No other pop star has been able to sell over 250 million records and break into the top 10 of the English music charts in each of the last six decades.

A wholesome outlook on life, influenced by his Christian beliefs, is what makes Cliff an icon for all seasons.

He became a devout Christian and Bible reader in 1964, three years after his father Rodger died at the age of 56.

"His involvement in the Christian world has preserved his innocence by allowing him to remain unaffected by recent social upheavals," wrote Steve Turner in Sir Cliff’s biography. "Whereas his contemporaries bear the marks of having lived through the decades of revolution in sex, drugs and politics, Cliff still appears to emerge from the Blytonesque world of the ’50s, where jolly policemen push their bicycles down country lanes and people still say ‘crikey’ and ‘gosh’ while guzzling fizzy drinks.

"His Christian conversion has enabled him to stay younger for longer by protecting him from traditional show business excesses. It’s also probably true to say that his face reflects his personal contentment. He doesn’t appear to carry any baggage either of guilt or resentment and the enthusiasm he exudes comes largely from a sense that he is working out God’s purposes in his life."

Since 1966, he has given away at least 1/10th of his income to charity through his charitable trust fund. On top of that, he donates over a tenth of his working time to charity and church events. In 1999, he donated every penny from sales of his No. 1 hit Millennium Prayer, a powerful rendition of the Lord’s prayer to the music of Auld Lang Syne, to the Children’s Promise charity.

In 1997, Cliff’s fortune was estimated to be worth at least $300 million and he is considered one of England’s top 200 richest persons. His income is primarily from ticket sales of concerts, mechanical royalties on albums and singles, merchandising and videos. Over 30 of his singles are million sellers and he has collected 14 No. 1 hits in England.

His popularity made him a natural for the movies. He has appeared in Serious Charge, Expresso Bongo, The Young Ones, Summer Holiday, Finders Keepers, Thunderbirds are Go, Two A Penny, and Take Me High.

Cliff was born in India where his father worked in the railway system. He got his dark looks from a great-grandfather who was half-Spanish and a grandmother who was part Burmese. The oldest and only boy of four children, he moved with his parents and sisters to England in 1948.

After leaving school in 1957, Cliff worked as a credit control clerk in a lamp factory in Enfield and a year later, quit his job to sign a recording contract with EMI. Cliff performed with the Drifters, later renamed the Shadows, and eventually went on his own. His music was heavily influenced by Bill Haley and Elvis Presley.

In 1960, Cliff bought a home for his parents and ended their life of hardship where they used to sit on chairs made out of packing cases and the children slept in one bedroom.

Today, Cliff owns a mansion in Surrey, a home in Barbados, a 35-acre haven with a vineyard where he produces wine under the "Vida Nova" brand in Portugal, a cottage in North Wales on a 123-acre property, an office building, three thoroughbred horses and an assortment of luxury cars, including a Rolls Royce, Bentley, Range Rover and Mercedes Benz.

Sir Cliff has never married. When he was younger, he courted tennis star Sue Barker and confessed to an affair with Carol Costa. Cliff was also romantically linked to Janice Berry, Delia Wicks and classmate Jackie Irving, among others.

Regarding rumors about being gay, Cliff has dismissed them.

"I have denied being gay since the idea was first mooted when I was 18," said Sir Cliff. "I’ve never even contemplated the possibility that I might be gay. There’s not so much I can do to stop the rumors. Ultimately, all that counts is what my friends and family know and they all trust and respect me."

Cliff said he has no regrets in staying a bachelor boy. "If I got married, I wouldn’t be able to just go off anywhere at the drop of a hat," he said. "Anyway, I’m not getting married. I’ve come close twice and each time, I got cold feet. I couldn’t have loved them enough to give up my freedom."

On his 40th anniversary tour in 1998, I watched Cliff perform at the Royal Albert Hall in London and he was amazing. I saw and understood why he has outlasted every musical trend of the past five decades with a sincerity and commitment that is unparalleled in the industry as British pop’s most celebrated survivor. To see Cliff in concert is to believe in his ability to continue mesmerizing audiences all over the world.

In that two-and-a-half-hour sellout show, Cliff sang 25 songs, some old and some new. He emerged from a cloud of smoke on a circular, revolving stage in the middle of the domed hall, wearing a gray round-neck shirt under a white sports coat with white pants and white shoes, to open the concert with From A Distance. Then he did Do You Wanna Dance followed by Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow. For his fourth number, he paid tribute to balladeer Matt Monro by singing Softly as I Leave You.

Throughout the show, he spoke to the audience in between songs and talked about his career, life and music.

For the Manila show, Cliff promises a night to remember and a performance that’s exciting, different and interesting. He said he would "dig out a whole bunch of songs that people would know" and blend in some new songs, too, from his latest album "Two’s Company."

Sir Cliff opened his 2006-2007 world tour, called "Here and Now," with a sold-out concert at Wembley Arena in London last November. Manila will be the sixth stop in an eight-nation Middle East and Asia blitz.

Media Source is bringing Sir Cliff to Manila for a one-night show that is bound to surpass attendance records for a foreign act. Tickets are now available at Ticketnet outlets, the Araneta Coliseum ticket booth and SM Department Stores. Ticket prices are P8,500, P7,500, P6,500, P4,000, P2,000 and P500. For ticket inquiries, call 911-5555.

ARANETA COLISEUM AULD LANG SYNE BACHELOR BOY BEATLES AND ELVIS PRESLEY CLIFF FROM A DISTANCE SIR SIR CLIFF SUMMER HOLIDAY YOUNG ONES
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