Cliff Richard says John Lennon thought he was 'cool'
Sir Cliff Richard’s name may be a major selling point for many who loved his take on rock ‘n’ roll. Through the years his style has changed, but his name has remained that which we know and love. But what is Sir Cliff’s real name and why did he change it?
While Cliff had one name change when he received a knighthood, and became ‘Sir Cliff Richard,’ this is not his first name change.
In fact, his knighthood is technically attached to a totally different name, though he changed it very early in his career.
The young Sir Cliff was born on October 14, 1940, but was born Harry Rodger Webb.
It turns out this name was not as rock ‘n’ roll as a young Sir Cliff wanted to be, so he changed it after he started becoming famous.
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Before all that, he lived in Lucknow, a city in India, as his father worked for a company servicing the Indian Railways.
He and his family lived in a small home in the downtown area of Hazratganj until 1948 when the Indian independence sent the family back to the UK.
They settled in Essex after a long journey by sea, before moving to Hertfordshire where he lived with his family in a council home.
As a teenager, Sir Cliff was fascinated by music, mainly skiffle and rock ‘n’ roll, which was sweeping the UK youth during the 1950s.
Singers like Elvis Presley and Little Richard were hugely famous, as well as Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly.
These performers were inspirations for many young artists coming up at the time, including The Quarrymen, who later morphed into The Beatles.
As for Sir Cliff, then Harry, his parents bought him a guitar due to his growing interest in music, after which he started singing with people in his school.
Soon enough, he had started a band, The Drifters, though they were forced to change their name to The Shadows due to another American group having the same name.
The band was fronted as Cliff Richard and The Shadows, after it was suggested by Move It songwriter Ian Samwell that he should try to represent the music he knew and loved.
Ian suggested he changed his surname to Richard, in tribute to Little Richard who was a real influence for Sir Cliff.
It has also been reported he changed his name to Cliff as it sounded more rock ‘n’ roll, due to cliffs literally being made of rocks.
It is unclear whether this was the impetus behind the name, and many have claimed to be the ones to suggest Sir Cliff made this change.
According to Smooth Radio, it was 1950s entrepreneur Harry Greatorex who suggested he change from Harry Webb.
In their report, the name was used as it sounded like ‘cliff face’ as it has the evocation of rock music.
Harry was the manager of The Shadows, who helped Sir Cliff to find fame as a young person.
His early career days saw him marketed as the equivalent of Elvis Presley in the UK, even to the extent that his hair and outfits were made very similar to Elvis.
Now, Sir Cliff recently celebrated his 80th birthday and has spent longer as Sir Cliff Richard than Harry Webb.
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