|Origin||London, England, United Kingdom|
|Years active||1958–1970, 1973–1990, 2004–2015 (one-off reunion: 2020)|
|Labels||Columbia (EMI), Polydor, Universal|
|Associated acts||Cliff Richard, Marvin, Welch & Farrar, Olivia Newton-John|
The Shadows (originally known as the Drifters) were an English instrumental rock group. They were also vocalist Cliff Richard's backing band from 1958 to 1968 and on numerous reunion tours. The Shadows have had 69 UK chart singles from the 1950s to the 2000s, 35 cred to the Shadows and 34 to Cliff Richard and the Shadows. The group, who were in the forefront of the UK beat-group boom, were the first backing band to emerge as stars. As pioneers of the four-member instrumental format, the band consisted of lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar and drums. Their range covers pop, rock, surf rock and ballads with a jazz influence.
The core members from 1958 to present are guitarists Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch; drummer Brian Bennett has been with the group since 1961 with various bassists and occasionally keyboardists through the years. Along with the Fender guitar, another cornerstone of the Shadows sound was the Vox amplifier. The Shadows, with Cliff Richard, dominated British popular music in the late 1950s and early 1960s in the years before the Beatles. The Shadows' number one hits included "Apache", "Kon-Tiki", "Wonderful Land", "Foot Tapper" and "Dance On!". Although these and most of their best-remembered hits were instrumentals, the group also recorded occasional vocal numbers, and hit the UK top ten with the group-sung "Don't Make My Baby Blue" in 1965. Four other vocal songs by the Shadows also made the UK charts. They disbanded in 1968, but reunited in the 1970s for further commercial success.
The Shadows are the fifth most successful act in the UK singles chart, behind Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Cliff Richard and Madonna. The Shadows and Cliff Richard & the Shadows each have had four No. 1 selling EPs.
The Shadows formed as a backing band for Cliff Richard under the name The Drifters, the original members were founder Ken Pavey (born 1932), Terry Smart on drums (1942), Norman Mitham on guitar (1941), Ian Samwell on guitar and Harry Webb (before he became Cliff Richard) on guitar and vocals. They had no bass player.
Samwell wrote their debut single, "Move It", often mistakenly attributed to "Cliff Richard and the Shadows" and not the Drifters . Initially their producer and manager Norrie Paramor wanted to record using only studio musicians but after persuasion he allowed Smart and Samwell to play as well. Two session players, guitarist Ernie Shear and bassist Frank Clark, played on the "Move It/Schoolboy Crush" single on Paramor's insistence to ensure a strong sound. In his memoirs, Welch regrets that he and Marvin could not be at the start of making history with "Move It".
The Drifters signed for Jack Good's Oh Boy! television series. Paramor of EMI signed Richard, and asked Johnny Foster to recruit a better guitarist. Foster went to Soho's 2i's coffee bar, known for musical talent performing there, particularly in skiffle, in search of guitarist Tony Sheridan. Sheridan was not there but Foster's attention was caught by Hank Marvin, who played guitar well and wore Buddy Holly-style glasses.
In spring the same year, the owner of the United States vocal group The Drifters threatened legal action over naming rights after the release and immediate withdrawal of "Feelin Fine" in the US. The second single, Jet Black, was released in the States under the name of The Four Jets to avoid further legal aggravation, but a new band name was urgently needed. The name "The Shadows" was thought up by bass guitarist Jet Harris (unaware of Bobby Vee's backing group) while he and Marvin were at the Six Bells pub in Ruislip in July 1959.
From The Story of the Shadows:
With a combination of the American situation, Cliff Richard's first number 1 hit, the runaway success "Living Doll" had by now sold over a million copies in Britain alone and after a bit of nudging from Norrie Paramor, they set about finding a permanent name, which arrived out of the blue one summer's day in July 1959 (maybe the 19th). When Hank Marvin and Jet Harris took off on their scooters up to the Six Bells pub at Ruislip, Jet hit upon a name straight away. 'What about the Shadows?' The lad was a genius! So we became the Shadows for the first time on Cliff's sixth single "Travellin' Light".
The Shadows were also becoming a popular band in their own right and in 1960, "Apache", an instrumental by Jerry Lordan, topped the UK charts for five weeks. Further hits followed, including the number ones "Kon Tiki" and "Wonderful Land", another Lordan composition with orchestral backing. The Shadows played on further hits as Richard's band.
In October 1961, drummer Tony Meehan left to be a music producer at Decca records. He was replaced by Brian Bennett. In April 1962, Jet Harris was replaced by Brian "Licorice" Locking. Bennett and Locking were friends from the 2I's who had been in Marty Wilde's backing group, the Wildcats, who recorded instrumentals as the Krew Kats. This Shadows line-up released seven hit singles, two of which, "Dance On!" and "Foot Tapper", topped the charts. In October 1963, Locking left to spend more time as a Jehovah's Witness.
Meanwhile, Harris and Meehan teamed up at Decca as an eponymous duo to record another Lordan instrumental, "Diamonds". It rose to UK no. 1 in January 1963. Two further hits, "Scarlett O'Hara" (also by Lordan) and "Applejack", followed in the same year. On the Lordan tunes, Harris played lead using a six-stringed Fender Bass VI. During 1963, ironically the ex-Shadows were competing in the charts with their former bandmates.
The Shadows, meanwhile, had issued a run 13 consecutive top 10 UK hits from 1960 through 1963. The Shadows had met John Rostill on tour with other bands and had been impressed by his playing, so they invited him to join. This final and longest-lasting line-up was the most innovative as they tried different guitars and developed a wider range of styles and higher musicianship. They produced albums but the chart positions of singles began to ease. The line-up still had ten hits, the first and most successful of which was "The Rise and Fall of Flingel Bunt". Beginning in 1965, the group also started issuing vocal numbers as singles, usually alternating a vocal A-side with an instrumental A-side. The vocal songs "Mary Anne", "Don't Make My Baby Blue", and "I Met A Girl" all made the UK top 30, and "The Dreams I Dream" peaked at #42. Instrumental numbers also continued to chart, including "Genie With The Light Brown Lamp", "Stingray", "The War Lord", "A Place In The Sun" and "Maroc 7", all top 30 hits.
During the 1960s, the group appeared with Cliff Richard in the films The Young Ones, Summer Holiday, Wonderful Life, and Finders Keepers. They also appeared as marionettes in the Gerry Anderson film Thunderbirds Are GO, and starred in a short B-film called Rhythm 'n Greens which became the basis of a music book and an EP.
They appeared in pantomime: Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp in 1964 at the London Palladium with Arthur Askey as Widow Twankey, Richard as Aladdin, and the Shadows as Wishee, Washee, Noshee and Poshee; Cinderella at the Palladium in 1966 featured Richard as Buttons and the Shadows as the Broker's Men. Their film and stage roles allowed the group to develop as songwriters. They wrote only a few songs for the earliest film, 1961's The Young Ones, but by Finders Keepers in 1966 almost the entire soundtrack was cred to Marvin-Welch-Bennett-Rostill. In 1967, the Shadows used Olivia Newton-John on the track "The Day I Met Marie" on their album From Hank Bruce Brian and John.
The group began 1970 by appearing on the BBC's review of the '60s music scene, Pop Go The Sixties, performing "Apache" and backing Richard on "Bachelor Boy", broadcast across Europe and BBC1, on 31 December 1969. This was followed by Marvin and a reconstituted Shadows becoming resident guests on Richard's debut TV series for the BBC, It's Cliff Richard!
The group were chosen by BBC Head of Light Entertainment Bill Cotton to perform the Song for Europe in the 1975 Eurovision Song Contest. The Shadows recorded six songs, seen each week on a weekly television show It's Lulu, on BBC1 and hosted by Lulu, a former Eurovision winner. The group taped all six performances in the TV studio before the series itself began, with the video cut into the weekly show. For the presentation of the songs on week seven and the announcement of the result on week eight, the pre-recorded performances were run again.
Two of the songs ("No, No Nina" and "This House Runs on Sunshine") were co-written by members of the group. The public voted for "Let Me Be the One", composed by Paul Curtis, to go to the Eurovision final in Stockholm, Sweden in 1975. There, the group came second to the Dutch entry, Teach-In's "Ding-A-Dong". Having long stepped out of Richard's shadow, this was a rare excursion into vocals for a band known for instrumentals (although they had cut vocal tracks on most albums, plus some singles 'B' sides, and had four charting vocal singles in the '60s). Welch sang lead and let the world know when, forgetting a couple of words, he turned to colleagues and said "I knew it" in range of his microphone. Author and historian John Kennedy O'Connor notes in The Eurovision Song Contest – The Official History that they were not a popular choice to represent the UK and the viewers' postal vote was the lowest in 'Song For Europe' history.
EMI however released a compilation album in 1976, spanning 1962 to 1970: Rarities with sleeve notes by John Friesen. The first half of the album was from Marvin's solo career and the second was by the Shadows . Following the rare vocal single "It'll Be Me, Babe", written and sung by Marvin & Farrar, John Farrar amicably left the band that year, moving to the US to become the music producer for Olivia Newton-John. Among her hits, Farrar wrote "You're the One That I Want" from the film Grease which was covered by the Shadows in 1979.
The packaging of hits in Twenty Golden Greats by EMI in 1977, which led to a number one album prompted the group to re-form once more for a 'Twenty Golden Dates' tour around the UK, featuring Francis Monkman (formerly of Curved Air and soon to be in Sky) on keyboards and Alan Jones on bass guitar. Francis left after that tour and the line-up settled as Marvin, Welch and Bennett, supplemented on records and gigs by Cliff Hall (keyboards) and Alan Jones (bass). It was this line-up that reunited with Cliff Richard for two concerts at the London Palladium in March 1978. Highlights of the concert, including four solo Shadows tracks, were released the following year on the top ten charting album Thank You Very Much. On the back of this The Shadows recorded an instrumental version of "Don't cry for me Argentina" from the west end production "Evita", released as a single at the tail end of 1978. The record eventually reached number 5 in the singles chart thereby giving the group their first top ten single since the 1960s.
In 1979, their version of "Cavatina" also became a top ten hit, and they recorded ten more tracks with bassist Jones and keyboardists Dave Lawson and Alan Hawkshaw for the album String of Hits on EMI which topped the British album charts. The success of this led to EMI issuing a follow-up album with 13 old tracks (including a Marvin solo track) and one unreleased track from the 'String of Hits' sessions. These tracks came from albums released earlier in the group's career of cover versions of hit singles; this was eventually released as Another String of Hot Hits in 1980.
After 20 successful years together the Shadows parted ways with their record company EMI and the group signed a 10-year contract to Polydor Records. The first album released under the Polydor banner was the aptly titled "Change of Address" in September 1980. With the influential arrival of keyboardist Cliff Hall, the musical style shifted from the traditional sound, becoming more electronic-based with prominent keyboards and synthesizers burying Welch's contributions.
For the group's 25th anniversary in 1983, the Shadows released a double album on the Tellydisc label entitled "Shadows silver Album" which contained previously released recent material along with new recently recorded tracks. In July 1984 the Shadows reunited with Cliff Richard for a series of celebratory concerts at Wembley Arena and Birmingham NEC.
In 1986, the Shadows had a top ten hit on the LP chart with 'Moonlight Shadows' a cover album in the same vein as early Polydor releases with singles "Moonlight Shadow" and Bruce Springsteen's, "Dancing in the Dark" both failing to make a dent in the singles chart. Due to Alan Jones involvement with the Dave Clark's musical Time, the bassist was not available to contribute to the album and Paul Westwood temporarily sat in. Moonlight Shadows was released on LP and CD simultaneously as the group's third CD release. This top ten album consisted entirely of cover songs. The album spent 16 weeks on chart peaking at number 6.
In June 1989 the Shadows once more reunited with Cliff to celebrate 30 years in show business where the singer filled London's Wembley Stadium for two nights with a spectacular titled "The Event" in front of a combined audience of 144,000 people. As a special surprise for the fans Cliff invited onto the stage original and founding members of the group Jet Harris and Tony Meehan to perform "Move It" with him and his band.
On 30 June 1990, Cliff and the Shadows performed to an estimated 120,000 people at Knebworth Park as part of an all-star concert line-up that also included Paul McCartney, Phil Collins, Elton John and Tears for Fears. The concert in aid of charity was televised around the world and helped to raise $10.5 million for disabled children and young musicians. Brian Bennett resigned from the group just before the group were to embark on what would be their final tour for 14 years with Marvin, Welch and Bennett going their separate ways on 1 December following the final concert in Southampton. The last studio album the Shadows recorded before they split, Reflection, was released in September.
The group re-formed in 2004 for a farewell tour, and recorded "Life Story" (written by Lordan) to accompany a hits package of the same name which featured 1980s re-recordings of all their 1960s and 1970s hits. This opportunity to see Marvin, Welch and Bennett, joined on keyboards by Cliff Hall and on bass by Mark Griffiths, was successful enough that they extended the tour to continental Europe in 2005. The line-up was almost the same, except that Warren Bennett, son of Brian, came in on keyboards instead of Hall.
Marvin, Welch and Bennett appeared together as special guests at Marty Wilde's 50th anniversary concert at the London Palladium on 27 May 2007, performing "Move It" with Wilde on vocals. The concert also featured former Shadows Jet Harris and Brian Locking.
On 11 December 2008, Richard and the Shadows performed at the Royal Variety Performance, at the same time announcing their forthcoming 50th anniversary tour. The tour began in September 2009 with 36 shows throughout the UK and continental Europe, extending in 2010 to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. A new album, Reunited, featuring mostly rerecorded versions of their own hits, reached number four in the UK Albums Chart in 2009. "Singing the Blues", the first "Cliff Richard and the Shadows" single for 40 years, reached number 40 in the UK Singles Chart, and is Richard's most recent top 40 hit. The Final Tour was put on Blu-ray format by Eagle Records in 2010.
Welch, Bennett, Mark Griffiths and Warren Bennett performed two Shadows hits ("Apache" and "Wonderful Land") at Albert Lee's 70th birthday concerts at Cadogan Hall, London, on 1 and 2 March 2014, Lee playing with them on lead guitar. The Shadows recorded an interpretation of John Barry's "The Appointment" for the 2015 Brian Bennett album Shadowing John Barry. Rumours circled in late 2016 about a reunion and a tour with Richard, but this did not occur.
On 1 May 2020, BBC4 showed The Shadows at Sixty, a documentary looking back at their success as they celebrated the 60th anniversary of their first No 1 hit, "Apache". Marvin, Welch and Bennett all gave interviews and the programme included some previously unseen footage from their early days. Marvin, Welch, and Bennett performed a new version of “Apache,” without bass and percussion, for use in the documentary.
The Shadows are difficult to categorise because of their stylistic range, which includes pop, rock, surf rock and ballads with a jazz influence. Most tunes are instrumental rock, with a few vocal numbers. Their rhythmic style is primarily on the beat, with little syncopation. They said in 1992 that "Apache" set the tone with its surf guitar sound.
The Shadows and their management did not exploit commercial opportunities such as self-promotion via artwork. They allowed Vox to produce metallic badges in a script typeface, with the group name on the front bottom right corner of all three Vox cabinets sometime during the early 1960s. This badge became the "default" band logo but was never commercially exploited by the group.
The Shadows never used the logo on the front of the bass drum, preferring to allow Meehan and Bennett to use their names instead. Belatedly, the logo was used once on the front artwork of the 1975 original studio album Specs Appeal. As of 2009, the logo still remains untrademarked and uncopyrighted.
In lieu of a proper band logo, four silhouettes of the original line-up, in ascending order of height, were used as a pseudo-logo on concert programme covers and artwork projects such as sheet music, EP and album covers. From left to right after the drum-kit were Meehan, Harris, Marvin, and Bruce Welch. The original artwork group silhouette was modified each time a member changed: the last version featured Brian Bennett and Rostill in the late 1960s. During the 1970s, EMI dropped the silhouettes, preferring to use two guitar necks or colour photos of the Shadows. During the later 1980s, Polydor used a red Fender Stratocaster (with white scratch plate) as a symbol.
In 1958, Bruce Welch went to a concert as part of the 1958 Jerry Lee Lewis tour of the UK of which he said:
On the show was this black American band called the Treniers. Hank Marvin and I were at the back, and we were really impressed at the way the saxophone players moved in unison, taken, I suppose, from the Glenn Miller days. It looked fantastic and we thought, "We must do something like that because it looks so interesting from the front."
The Shadows developed sequences using their bodies and guitars in tempo with the music, such as 'the walk'. It has been copied by other groups as part of their Top of the Pops performances, notably Mud, the Rubettes, Showaddywaddy and Yellow Dog. 'The walk' is three steps within a 60–60–60-degree triangle, with a reverse right-heel back-kick, with optional can-can finale. This was varied throughout a gig during certain numbers, for example "FBI".
During the 1980s, rather than play in a static posture during an instrumental number, or using the walk, their live act was refined to include another movement. This featured Marvin, Welch and the bassist moving their guitars in time, or in sequence, with note or chord changes. Occasionally, during other instrumentals, this guitar presentation is re-engineered with Marvin and Welch acting out of sequence or alternating. When the group performed the popular live number "Shadoogie" (originally a track on their first LP), Hank and Bruce would walk forward whilst the bass player would walk back - and vice versa.
During the late 1950s in the UK, it was a common practice for pop stars to adopt a stage name, and several members of the original Cliff Richard and the Shadows did so: Harry Webb became "Cliff Richard", Brian Rankin became "Hank B. Marvin", Terence Harris became "Jet Harris" and Bruce Cripps became "Bruce Welch". Subsequently, the names Cliff Richard and Hank Brian Marvin were confirmed by deed poll.
The Shadows have been cited as a major influence on many guitarists, including Brian May, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Andy Summers, Ritchie Blackmore, David Gilmour, Andy Powell and Tony Iommi. A tribute album, Twang! A Tribute to Hank Marvin & the Shadows (Capitol 33928), in October 1996 featured Blackmore, Iommi, Peter Green, Randy Bachman, Neil Young, Mark Knopfler, Peter Frampton and others playing Shadows hits. The early set of Queen (who played their first gig on 27 June 1970 with Freddie Mercury, Roger Taylor and Brian May) included a cover of Cliff and the Shadows' "Please Don't Tease".
The Shadows influenced 1960s Yugoslav beat bands like Atomi, Bele Višnje, Bijele Strijele, Crni Biseri, Crveni Koralji, Daltoni, Delfini, Elipse, Iskre, Samonikli, Siluete and Zlatni Dečaci, all of whom were the pioneers of the Yugoslav rock scene. In the words of Crni Biseri member Vladimir Janković "Jet" (who got his nickname after Harris), "even the Beatles weren't as popular in Belgrade as the Shadows were". The second episode of Rockovnik, a Serbian 2011 documentary series about the Yugoslav rock scene, deals with the appearance of the Shadows and the influence they had on Yugoslav bands.
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