The impending arrival of Sir Cliff Richard OBE at the Winter Gardens for his Great 80 Tour in 2020 brings many reasons to celebrate.
The eternal “Young One”, born Harry Rodger Webb on 14 October 1940, will be celebrating his 80th birthday, following this year’s 80th anniversary of the Opera House.
His performance will mark 60 years since his debut appearance at the Opera House.
It will give audiences a taste of his first album of new material in 14 years - Rise Up - released almost 60 years after his 1959 debut album “Cliff” featuring The Drifters (later renamed The Shadows).
Last but definitely not least, Rise Up underlines Sir Cliff’s ability to rise above the much-publicised difficulties he faced due to false allegations he was cleared of, and he has said the album is a reflection of this "bad period” in his life.
Now, as he gets ready to embark on his Great 80 Tour, Cliff Richard fans across the UK will be reflecting on six successful decades of music, during which time he has sold more than 250 million records worldwide, with 67 top ten singles in the UK, including 14 number ones.
Sir Cliff's accolades include two Ivor Novello Awards and three Brit Awards, and according to Wikipedia he is “the only singer to have had a number-one single in the UK in five consecutive decades”.
Cliff Richard’s return to the Opera House for one night only on 27th September 2020 will mark 60 years since his appearance for two shows in 1960. He returned to the Winter Gardens the year after to headline The Big Show of 1961 – taking over from Shirley Bassey to top the bill from 28th August.
He was back in Blackpool in 1963 for a summer season with The Shadows, when it’s reported he had his portrait done by the artist Victor Heyfron, who was commissioned to model busts of Princess Diana, George Orwell and Eric Morecambe.
Bachelor Boy Cliff is known for his Christianity, his duets with stars such as Olivia Newton John, and his loyal friendships with fellow celebrities such as Cilla Black. He was famous before the Beatles, introducing the UK to rock and roll with his smash hit single Move It, and his movie career included box office hits The Young Ones in 1961 and Summer Holiday in 1963 - the same year as his summer season in Blackpool.
It was a fitting tribute therefore that the stage adaptation of Summer Holiday, starring Darren Day, premiered for a summer season at the Opera House in 1996. The story focuses on a group of London bus mechanics who convert a double decker bus into a mobile “hotel” and drive it around Europe, meeting some young ladies along the way. The Opera House was the only stage big enough for the full version of the double decker bus, which continued its journey on tour across the UK in a shortened form before returning to Blackpool in 1998.
Both the film and the show remain popular, so much so that half a century after the movie’s release it’s still a British tradition when setting off on a break to sing: “We’re all going on a Summer Holiday, No more working for a week or two…”
Such is the longevity of Sir Cliff Richard’s career, fans of all generations may have sung along to one of his tracks at some point, from Living Doll and Wired For Sound to the Christmas classic Mistletoe and Wine.
One thing’s for sure – the Peter Pan of Pop still can move it and a-groove it!
Book here to see Sir Cliff Richard, one of Britain’s best ever music legends, on his return to the Opera House.