Cliff Richard confession: Singer’s heartbreak over album ‘they will never let me do’

Cliff Richard discusses why he chose to never get married

With more than 60 albums and catalogue of 146 songs, Sir Cliff is arguably one of the generation’s most hard working musicians. The Mistletoe and Wine crooner was recently recognised with an award for having a UK Top 5 hit in eight consecutive decades. In his new book The Dreamer, Sir Cliff reflected on his impressive career and acknowledged his one regret.

Despite turning 80 back in October, Sir Cliff shows no signs of slowing down. 

To mark the landmark birthday he was due to go on tour until coronavirus restrictions forced the dates to be postponed. 

In the past, Sir Cliff remarked that the word “retire” was not in his vocabulary and firmly stood behind his statement this year when he announced plans for the future. 

He teased fans with his hope to duet with US country star Shania Twain, musicals legend Elaine Paige and Tony Rivers, who he dubbed “the king of harmonies”.

Sir Cliff also lavished Blurred Lines singer Pharrell Williams with compliments and hoped they could work together – despite mistakenly believing he was a woman. 

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Despite his long list of future collaborations, the singer mourned being unable to duet with one musician he admired above the rest.

He wrote: “The person that I would most like to perform with more than anybody else in the history of music, is no longer with us.”

The individual he referred to was Elvis Presley – the man he attributed with transforming him from “plain old Harry Webb” – his birth name – into Cliff Richard.

During his early years, Sir Cliff imitated the Hound Dog performer’s style and the star’s success showed him that rock and roll was not just a dream. 

Despite being unable to physically perform alongside The King, who died he suffered a heart attack in 1977, he had another plan.

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The singer imagined himself singing along to some of Elvis’ songs, while recordings of the deceased musician were played alongside him.

But when Sir Cliff approached the late star’s ex-wife Priscilla Presley, she gave him some bad news.

She said: “If it was down to me, I would say ‘Yes’, because Elvis knew all about his competition.

“Elvis kept an eye on his main rivals all over the world. He certainly knew about you.”

Sir Cliff was taken aback by the compliment and could barely believe The King would have considered him “as his competition”. 

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While Priscilla “liked the idea” of him recording Elvis’ songs and  did have “some say in the matter”, he doubted his chances. 

Sir Cliff wrote: “Sony Music own the rights to all of Elvis’ recordings and they will never let me do it.”

Later in his book, The Dreamer, the singer made what seemed to be a veiled plea to the record label.

Sir Cliff claimed that an album featuring them both “might sell a million copies” because fans were always split between himself and Elvis.

He also revealed that he had commissioned a Spanish artist to paint a picture for the cover art, which made it look like the two of them were on-stage together. 

Sir Cliff, who is the focus of a documentary entitled The Christmas King, wrote: “Oh, well! It may never happen, but a boy can dream! 

“And even if it never does, knowing that Elvis took note of me, and even viewed me as his competition, makes my day; my month; my year. 

“No, in a funny way, it makes my life.”

Cliff Richard: The Dreamer was published by Ebury Press in October and is available here. 

Cliff Richard: The Christmas King airs at 10.25pm Tuesday (December 22) on Channel 5.

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