Monday, May 1, 2017


This I can't resist, a timely tribute to the humming music scene of that there London on the cusp of the 1960s. Actually made first as a play for the West End in 1958, it was the 1959 film that remains the slightly less dusty memory. The plot mirrors any of the many true rags to ritual stories of the day, shady entrepreneur snaps up backstreet working class crooner, 'I'm gonna make you a star', gives the kid a new name and a new suit and the rest is cliche. Here is actually what George S. Davies in ImDB has to say:

"Johnny Jackson, a sleazy talent agent, discovers teenager Bert Rudge singing in a coffee house. Despite Bert's protestation that he really is only interested in playing bongos, Johnny starts him on the road to stardom. The deal they cut, however, is highly exploitative of the young singer, and their relationship soon begins to go bad."

Sound familiar? Try this. Harry Webb, young skiffle band enthusiast, is spotted by small-time mogul Harry Greatorex. He persuades him to change his name and sends him on the road to stardom. Much as I would love to report a reality as played out in the film, (un?)fortunately the newly named Cliff Richard, for it was he, went on to become a somewhat iconoclastic figure in UK pop, pop that is, rather than the rock he was originally deigned and designed to produce. I am prompted to this post by seeing adverts promoting his new album, 75 at 75, featuring the ridiculously 'youthful'© singer bouncing up and down on the cover. And, yep, quite a legacy of work it is, with at least 5 or 6 I can bear. Sorry, it's true I am no fan of the old bugger, sorry, blighter, lest any confusion occur. (Pity really, as his erstwhile backing band, or at least the guitarist, one Hank B. Marvin (real name Brian Rankin), is an acknowledged influence on legions of plank-spankers from Neil Young to Mark Knopfler.) So why the hell am I wasting your, his and my time with this piece? Easys: the stage name chosen for the fictitious Bert Rudge.........
Ladies and Gentlemen, I offer you Bongo Herbert:

Of course Cliff went on to appear in a myriad of movies, mostly, to be fair, as dire as the similar works of his onetime role model, Elvis Presley. From 'The Young Ones' to 'Summer Holiday' and beyond, ahead of various saturday evening TV variety shows, Cliff Richard seems always to have been in the background of my youth. And, in one instance, actually there. I was perhaps 7 or 8, on the tiny isle of Herm, in the Channel Islands, just off the french coast. For some reason the ferry back to St Peter Port was delayed. Amongst the stranded day-trippers was Cliff, uber-tanned and sporting a splendid pair of budgie-smugglers*. My elder sister was entranced, as everyone tried to get closer to him, without ever formally acknowledging his presence, in a masterclass display of british stiff upper lip. I am uncertain whether he even acknowledged his presence, thankfully sparing us the now ritual response to rain at the Wimbledon tennis tournament.

(As I review this, 'cos yes I do, believe it or not, I feel somehow a little churlish, belittling this pillar, this crown jewel of the establishment, indeed still hugely popular with many a blue-rinsed matron, so as recompense, have a Cliff and a Hank, together in their prime:


Buy the film or if you dare...

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