We’re rounding up the best of Sir Cliff’s 150 odd singles across his stunning 70-year pop career.
Nestled just behind the Beatles and Elvis Presley, Sir Cliff Richard is the third best-selling artist in UK history, with over 21 million singles sold.
He’s been at it for over 70 years now, and Sir Cliff was the only artist to have at least one Top 40 single in each of the charts’ first six decades.
It is therefore far from easy to reduce all these hits to just 15 songs, but that’s what we did.
From his early published 1950s to his 60s heyday and a few more recent hits, here’s our personal take on the best of Cliff Richard.
Sir Cliff has an often unfair reputation for being a little corny. ‘Congratulations’ is one of those songs that is pure cheese, but we love it anyway.
Written by Bill Martin and Phil Coulter, it was originally titled “I Think I Love You” by Martin before Coulter made the most significant change.
The song was a finalist in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1968, missing the Spanish entry. Rumors still persist today that the fix was to aid Franco’s dictatorship.
The song went all the way to number one on the UK and Spanish charts, for what it’s worth.
mistletoe and wine
Sir Cliff has become synonymous with Christmas over the years (he even has a new Christmas album coming). It had seasonal highs over several decades, ranging from the stalwart “Saviour’s Day” to the eccentric “Millennium Prayer” which mixed The Lord’s Prayer and Auld Lang Syne.
Perhaps his ultimate Christmas song is his 1988 hit “Mistletoe and Wine” which topped the charts and was the year’s best-selling single.
Although Cliff made him famous, “Mistletoe and Wine” was first featured in the musical Remains in 1976, with this production based on the song by Hans Christian Andersen The little girl with matches.
By the end of the 1970s, the UK had gone through rock ‘n’ roll, the Beatles, psychedelia, disco, prog, punk and the rest, and through it all there was Cliff Richard .
This dark and mysterious track from the 1979s Youthful Rock ‘n’ Roll was one of the many hits from that album, reaching number four on the charts.
Written by Richard with his Shadows bandmate Bruce Welch, “Bachelor Boy” was the song that made headlines thanks to Sir Cliff’s well-stated reluctance to marry.
It was actually the B-side to “The Next Time,” but it became the biggest hit of the two over the years after its release in 1962.
Do not talk to him
Music by Shadows guitarist Bruce Welch. The words were an early effort by Cliff Richard, who agreed to “give it a shot” despite his nerves.
It worked, going all the way to number two and allowing Cliff and the Shadows to have a great 60s run.
Miss You Nights
First written and recorded by Dave Townsend, his version went unreleased when Island Records shelved Dave’s planned album.
The song found its way to Cliff via Bruce Welch, and it helped launch his comeback, peaking at number 15 on the UK charts in 1976. A double A-side reissue with ‘All I Have To Do Is Dream’ made a best in 1994, reaching number 14.
please don’t tease
Written by Bruce Welch with his former Five Chesternuts bandmate Pete Chester, “Please Don’t Tease” became Cliff and the Shadows’ third number-one single when it was released in 1960.
It has sold over 1.5 million copies worldwide.
To pack light
‘Travellin’ Light’ was Cliff Richards and The Shadows’ first release after changing their name from Cliff Richard and The Drifters (to avoid confusion with the already successful American band of the same name).
It didn’t change a winning formula, however, becoming Sir Cliff’s second number one single, seeing off the decade in style.
Taken from the 1963 film (and album) of the same name, “Summer Holiday” was one of Cliff Richard’s very many number one singles of the decade.
Directed by Peter Yates, Cliff Richard led a cast of British stars in the film, including (deep breath) Lauri Peters, David Kossoff, Ron Moody and The Shadows and stars Melvyn Hayes, Teddy Green, Jeremy Bulloch, Una Stubbs , Pamela Hart, Jacqueline Daryl, Madge Ryan, Lionel Murton, Christine Lawson, Wendy Barry and Nicholas Phipps.
“Living Doll” was the first number one single from Cliff Richard and the Shadows – still known at the time as Cliff Richard and the Drifters – and has an incredible story.
The song was written by Lionel Bart (he who created the musical Olivier !) For the movie serious accusation.
It was written as a rock ‘n’ roll song and that’s how Cliff played it in the movie, but he adamantly refused to record it that way as a contract-mandated single, thinking it sounded out of tune compared to the real rock ‘n’ roll coming from the United States.
So he and the Drifting Shadows recorded it as a slower paced country number, and scored their first chart topper in the process. It returned to number one in 1986 when Cliff reunited with Hank Marvin and re-recorded the song with the cast of an anarchic sitcom. Young people.
Wired for sound
Cliff Richard saw in the 1980s with the album I am not a herobut his first album that really feels like the decade was his 1981 follow-up Wired for sound.
Written by Alan Tarney and B.A. Robertson, its debut single and title track was a huge hit, peaking at number four and selling over a quarter of a million copies.
His iconic video saw Cliff on roller skates, listening to a walkman at the Milton Keynes shopping centre. More from the 80s.
Talk about Young people‘The Young Ones’ was the title track from the 1961 film which starred Cliff as aspiring singer Nicky who wants to save his West End youth club from a dastardly property developer.
The single went straight to number one upon release with pre-orders of over half a million, and eventually sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide.
It was, of course, the theme song to the 1980s sitcom of the same name, in a very different style.
Written by Terry Britten and Christine Authors, Sir Cliff rocketed Devil Woman to number nine in the UK in 1976.
More impressively, he scored his first US top 20 hit with the song, eventually reaching number 6 and going gold in the process.
Where it all began for Cliff Richard and The Drifters.
Written by the band’s guitarist Ian Samwell, it was originally meant to be the B-side to “Schoolboy Crush”, but it was too good for that fate.
Instead, it became the A-side to Cliff’s debut single and turned him into an overnight star, reaching number 2 on the UK Singles Chart.
More than that, it was arguably the first real rock ‘n’ roll song that came out of its home in the United States and started the British rock revolution.
On the original recording, Cliff sings the same verse twice, as Samwell had not finished writing a second one.
He finally solved this problem in 1995, and Sir Cliff and Hank Marvin re-recorded the song with this extra verse for that year. Hank plays the cliff, and that’s how Richard plays it live now.
We don’t talk anymore
Another Cliff Richard chart-topper, “We Don’t Talk Anymore” spent four weeks at number one in 1979, cementing his legacy as an era-riding star.
It was his tenth number one single, and his first since all the way back in 1968 with ‘Congratulations’.
His success in the United States made him the first act to reach the top 40 on the Hot 100 in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.