Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Cliff Richard's part in the British Invasion?

Considering its relative size, the hold of the British music industry on the American market is remarkable. For example, I spent much of New Year's Eve listening to White Town.

When considering why a guy in California would be listening to a band like White Town, you have to go back to the Beatles, who dominated the U.S. music charts beginning in early 1964. Their arrival in New York has become a historical moment.

But it was not the first time that a Beatle visited the United States.

In September 1963, the Beatles were the talk of the United Kingdom, and had miraculously become even more popular than Cliff Richard, seemingly within a few short months. After intense activity, the band took a break, and guitarist George Harrison and his brother Peter went to visit their sister Louise - who happened to be living in the United States.

The long-haired guy with the funny accent was very busy during his time in the United States - he bought a guitar, he visited a radio station, and he appeared at a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall, backed by the Four Vests and billed as the Elvis of England. Among the songs they performed was "Roll Over Beethoven." (Apparently "Don't Bother Me" was not performed.)

But at some point during his stay in the States, George Harrison went to a drive-in movie - and was in for a shock.

George went back to England with horror stories of how CLIFF RICHARD, the biggest star in the U.K., was reduced to the second half of a double-feature here in the States at the local drive-in with his U.K. smash film SUMMER HOLIDAY....

George's conclusion? Despite the warm reception at the VFW hall, it was clearly apparent that the Beatles' music would never break in the United States. After all, if Cliff Richard had failed, what hope did the Beatles have for making a dent in this huge country?

As it turns out, George was wrong - within a few months, Beatlemania would strike the U.S.

But all was not lost for Cliff Richard in America either. Although he has never had a #1 U.S. hit like the Beatles, his song "Devil Woman" did reach #6 on the charts - in 1976.
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