Cliff Richard rose to fame in the 1950s and cemented his position as one of the leading rock acts before the advent of the Beatles. Although the Beatles eclipsed his status, he maintained an enduring appeal for many generations.
In the mid-1960s, he made a firm commitment to his Christian faith and at one time considered giving up his rock career because it was detrimental to a spiritual life. However, friends encouraged him to continue which he did, though much of his future work was softer than his initial rock phase. In the 1980s and 1990s, he increasingly recorded songs with explicitly Christian themes – these often proved very successful such as Mistletoe and Wine, Saviours Day and Millennium Prayer – two of these were Christmas number ones.
Because of his Christianity, his records have not always been played on some radio stations because he is considered un-cool. Cliff Richard observes that many histories of British pop music fail to mention him, despite his status and impact through five decades. Cliff Richard has said that his lifestyle choice has, in a way, been a rare counterpoint to the typical rock and roll lifestyle of sex, drugs and alcohol.
Cliff Richard has been a lifelong bachelor. He currently lives with John McElynn a former Roman Catholic Priest; though he has denied he is gay and is supportive of the idea of gay marriage. He once considered marriage to tennis star Sue Barker.
Outside of music, Cliff is involved in numerous charities and foundations. He donates 10% of his income to charities, preferring charities involved in research into better medical treatment.
He has also been involved in several films, of which, The Young Ones (1961) is perhaps best known.
Over the years, his name has been linked with actress Una Stubbs, his co-star in the 1963 film Summer Holiday, singer Olivia Newton-John and tennis star Sue Barker.
In 2008, Sir Cliff said of his relationship with Barker: “I seriously contemplated asking her to marry me but in the end I realised that I didn’t love her quite enough to commit the rest of my life to her.”
When asked why he has never married, he said: “I’ve had a few false alarms. I’ve been in love but marriage is a big commitment.”
He has laughed off speculation about his sexuality, saying he is not gay, does not believe in sex before marriage and has never met a woman he wanted to be his wife.
His manager Bill Latham once said: “Cliff has a strong circle of friends. He is not a lonely person. You would very rarely find him sitting alone at home watching TV.”
It was his father’s death in the 1960s that led him to think seriously about Christianity. While other rock stars were trashing hotel rooms and experimenting with drugs, he was going to church.
He made no secret of his faith but it did not dent his popularity.
Knighted in 1995, he has hosted the Blairs and the Camerons at his holiday home in Barbados.
His single status allows him to enjoy a mildly eccentric lifestyle.
Despite an £100million fortune, he is said to live on a few pounds “pocket money” a week, eat just one meal a day and give at least 10 per cent of his earnings to charity.