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The Summer Holiday singer, now 80, claimed that Elvis was his inspiration and muse for a career in rock and roll. But after he rose to fame with The Shadows, Sir Cliff claimed fans were divided and either supported him or the US star. In his new autobiography The Dreamer, he reflected on their rivalry and revealed how a touching comment “made my life”.
Sir Cliff claimed that if he had “never heard or seen Elvis” he would likely have “remained plain old Harry Webb” – the star’s real name.
He explained that the Blue Suede Shoes crooner’s image and music made him realise how he could make it in rock and roll.
The star, who is worth more than £84million, admitted that Elvis was the person he wanted to perform with “more than anybody else in the history of music”.
He lamented that the star was “no longer with us” and asked his wife Priscilla if she would grant him permission to cover one of the late singer’s songs.
Sir Cliff claimed that while she was willing, Sony Music owned the rights to all of his recordings and would “never let me do it”.
Priscilla explained that her late husband would have supported her decision “because Elvis knew all about his competition” – a comment that shocked the British singer.
Sir Cliff, who was in disbelief that the star was aware of him, was told: “Elvis kept an eye on his main rivals, all over the world. He certainly knew all about you!”
While he exclaimed, “Wow, what a thought”, the singer admitted to having witnessed the division between supporters.
He recalled: “When I was starting out, in the early days of rock and roll, I used to visit schools.
“The kids always told me they were split in half – half of them liked Elvis, the other half liked me.
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“I still meet women of my age today, who tell me, ‘Oh, my sister loved you, but I always used to love Elvis’. ‘Ha! Me, too’, I usually say.”
Sir Cliff revealed that it was still a “dream” to record an album where he sang with Elvis’ recordings and admitted that he even had an album cover ready – if the day ever came.
He continued: “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’s The Dreamer was published this month by Ebury Press and is available here.
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