The Cliff Richard Diary Tour
Twenty years ago, I was asked to be part of Cliff Richard’s band and travel to South Africa to be Musical Director for a three week tour.
Subsequently, I traveled with Cliff for the next 5 years and performed as keyboard player and sometimes MD at concerts around UK, Europe, USA, Australia, New Zealand, and the Far East. I was also involved as producer to some of his songs in the studio and together we wrote several songs that appeared as singles and album tracks. Leaving the band, I pursued a career as a music composer and producer, writing commissioned music for TV, film, radio, advertising, animation and song writing and that has continued to the present day.
Having still remained good friends, Cliff and I have performed together on many unplugged concerts; him as the Guitarist-Legendary-Singer-Star and me on keyboards. These have included benefits, charity shows and a several corporate events.
On hearing about the tour and the extensive travel involved, I personally asked him if I could be allowed back into the band to play and travel with him. Nothing happened for many months, but I received a call midway through 2003 to ask if I was available and whether I would like to go out on tour again. I accepted. Apart from the chance to play with him and some fine musicians, it was a great opportunity to travel once more and visit many of the places I had seen years ago, and never thought I would be able to revisit.
There was the opportunity to take my wife away with me especially to Australia and meet up with old friends out there. It was a chance to share in the rather unique experience of touring with a legend, great performer and friend on what appeared to be his last, long and detailed world tour. I also wanted to see if it was as much fun touring now as it was then! I was encouraged to keep a diary of the tour as I had done on previous smaller trips with Cliff and, from the first day of rehearsals at Bray and Pinewood to the final shows in Tokyo and Bangkok, I recorded my thoughts and pictures on most days.
The tour started in September 2002 with a four week rehearsal schedule; three weeks at Bray Studios and one week at Pinewood Studios. We then took the first part of the tour around UK for a total of 5 weeks, starting in Ireland, Wales, through England to Scotland and finishing on the South Coast.
Then a further three weeks in Europe, starting in Norway and further extensive travelling through Germany, Belgium, Holland and Scandinavia. A couple of weeks break for Christmas (with a personal trip to Florida) and then we took the tour to Australia, starting in Perth and then travelled throughout the rest of Australia playing also in selective Vineyards at Hunter Valley and the Barrossa Valley. New Zealand next and two concerts in Christchurch and one in Napier at another vineyard. The final part was in the Far East and starting in Singapore, we played on through Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Seoul, South Korea, Tokyo, Japan and Bangkok, Thailand, flying home mid-March 2003.
Throughout the tour, the film crew shot fly-on-the-wall footage of sound checks, backstage activities, interviews and stuff on Cliff to accompany a DVD (which was released late 2003).
The diary details the places, concerts, the ups and downs, the funny things, the not-so-funny things, stuff about Cliff and generally loads of backstage nonsense not normally written about. It is a dairy from my perspective in the band, rather than from Cliff’s but I wanted to make it a fun read. I think will appeal to those who are full-blown fans of Cliff as well as those who are mildly interested and who may have seen one of the shows. It’s a dip-in-and-out book and not one that would require a great time spent reading through as in a novel. It details the travel and great places we visited – the highs and not-so-highs. There were times when Cliff’s presence wasn’t around so much, so I went walk-about through the places, hotels, restaurants and other places of interest. It includes special guests such as Hank Marvin who appeared with us in Perth, Western Australia, and other celebrity guests who happened to pop in here and there.
The diary is accompanied by some fantastic photographs, taken backstage, around dressing rooms and some actually on stage during the shows (risky but well worth it)! Photographs starting from the rehearsals through the shows in UK and Europe and many one-off events not normally seen by fans or friends of the tour.
I have been tempted to start a dairy blog of this book. When I returned from the tour I gave it to a publisher for his reactions and options and within a month he and the publishers had offered me a deal. The courting continued for seven months, when, out of blue, they decided that they didn’t want to publish it after all. No reasons were given and I was left having wasted the entire year unable then to secure another publisher. Ironically, on the same day I received a call from The management with whom I’d signed the Contract for the Tour, and politely yet firmly threatened. I know that contractually I am safe with this book as it shows Cliff in the best and most favourable light. And it might do something to revive what has become a rather lack luster period in his career.
Keep checking for the blog.