The Shadows are a British pop/rock group with a total of 69 UK hit-charted singles: 35 of which are credited as The Shadows and 34 as Cliff Richard and the Shadows, from the 1950s to the 2000s. The group, who were in the forefront of the UK's beat-group boom, were the first backing band to emerge as stars in their own right. As pioneers of the four-member rock-group format, the band consisted of lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar and drums.
The Shadows' core members are Hank Marvin, Bruce Welch and Brian Bennett; though there have been numerous changes in the line up throughout its history. The band's unique sound was originally produced by a combination of American Fender guitars, British amplifiers made by Vox and echo units Meazzi Echomatic tape and Binson magnetic disc. The Shadows, with singer Cliff Richard, dominated the British popular music scene in the late 1950s and early 1960s in the five years before The Beatles. Although they lost ground in the late sixties, the band enjoyed a second spell of success and interest from the late seventies until the present day.
- 1 Overview[edit source | editbeta]
- 2 History[edit source | editbeta]
- 3 Style and image[edit source | editbeta]
- 4 Legacy and influence
Overview[edit source | edit]
The Shadows were formed from members of several late 1950s UK skiffle groups: the Newcastle-based "Railroaders" (and also The Five Chesternuts on Columbia Records) who suppliedHank Marvin and Bruce Welch, both inspired by US pop music; and The Vipers Skiffle Group (on Parlophone records) who supplied Jet Harris and Tony Meehan from London, both inspired by UK jazz–skiffle music. The Shadows, although originally the live and recording backing band for Cliff Richard, were later marketed as an instrumental combo, following their explosive chart success with the Jerry Lordan composition "Apache." In the US and Canada, they were briefly marketed as a 'surf' group with two special compilation albums on Atlantic records, The Shadows Know and Surfing with The Shadows, to compete with The Ventures and The Surfaris. Although both these albums failed to chart in America, the band had hits worldwide.
The group was created in 1958 out of Cliff Richard's urgent need for a set of permanent backing musicians, after the success of his "Move It" single, which had been recorded with a mixture of his own "The Five Chesternuts" (later "The Drifters") electrified skiffle group, plus session players. According to Norrie Paramor, their first producer, the Shadows' first studio album was dogged throughout its creation by clashes within the band. Harris and Meehan eventually recorded under their own names for Decca Records after, first Meehan and then Harris, left The Shadows following clashes. Meehan was replaced by ex-Krew Kats drummer Brian Bennett, Harris by bassist Brian ("Licorice") Locking, and later John Rostill who stayed with them until the late 60s.
The Shadows disbanded in 1968 but Marvin and Welch subsequently formed a vocal–guitar trio Marvin Welch & Farrar. Because of low sales and fans demanding Shadows numbers at MW&F gigs, The Shadows reformed in 1973 with Brian Bennett as a full member and various extra musicians. The group permanently disbanded in 1990 but temporarily reformed in 2004–05 for a UK and European tour (the reunion being instigated in 2001 by Roger Field, a guitarist friend of Hank Marvin), and again during 2008–10 to tour and release a new album with a 50th anniversary reunion with Cliff Richard having since formed in 1959.
History[edit source | edit]
Formed as a backing band for Cliff Richard, under the name The Drifters, the members were founder Ken Pavey (born 1932), Terry Smart on drums (born 1942), Norman Mitham on guitar (born 1941), Ian Samwell on guitar and Harry Webb (before he became Cliff Richard) on guitar and vocals. The original Drifters had no bass player. Samwell wrote the group's first hit, "Move It", which is often mistakenly attributed to "Cliff Richard and The Shadows." Two session players, guitarist Ernie Shear and bassist Frank Clark, played on the "Move It" / "Schoolboy Crush" single on producer Norrie Paramor's insistence to ensure a strong sound.
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 back to Soho's 2i's coffee bar (famed 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 another musician, who played guitar well and had on Buddy Holly glasses.
Hank Marvin had played in a school skiffle band with Bruce Welch. The pair had travelled from Newcastle and were surviving on little money. Foster offered Marvin the job, and he accepted on condition that Welch also join. New manager Franklin Boyd could see the pair worked well and they were employed as lead and rhythm guitarists. Ian Samwell was moved to bass until he was replaced by the Most Brothers' bass guitarist, Jet Harris. Drummer Terry Smart left shortly afterwards and was replaced at Harris's suggestion by Tony Meehan. The Drifters' professional line-up now complete, became The Shadows in early 1959 to avoid confusion with the contemporary American R&B vocal group The Drifters. None of the original UK Drifters were in the group when they became The Shadows. Foster continued for a time as Richard's manager, and Samwell wrote additional songs for The Drifters and The Shadows before writing and producing for others. Meehan recalled that Richard, backed by Marvin, Welch, Harris and himself had played together a year beforehand at least once at the 2i's.
The group started recording and performing with Richard and released two singles in their own right in 1959 ("Feelin' Fine"/"Don't Be A Fool With Love") and ("Jet Black"/"Driftin'"). The first two tracks were vocals and the second pair instrumental. Neither charted. A further (vocal) ("Saturday Dance"/"Lonesome Fella") also failed. The instrumental "Chinchilla" was included on a four-track soundtrack EP by Cliff Richard and the Drifters called Serious Charge released in early 1959 with the film of the same name.
In the spring of the same year the US soul group The Drifters threatened legal action against the British group 'The Drifters' after the release and subsequent immediate withdrawal of the "Feelin Fine" single in the US. The second single "Jet Black" was released in the US under the name 'The Four Jets' as a temporary move to avoid further legal aggravation but a new band name was becoming a matter of urgency if they were to progress. The new band name The Shadows was invented by Jet Harris (apparently unaware of Bobby Vee's backing group) while he and Marvin were relaxing 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 runaway success (Living Doll had by now sold over a million copies in Britain alone) and a bit of nudging from Norrie Paramor, we 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 to 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".
1960s[edit source | edit]
In 1960, the band released "Apache," an instrumental by Jerry Lordan, which topped the charts for five weeks. Further hits followed, notably "Wonderful Land", another Lordan composition with orchestral backing, at the top of the charts longer than "Apache" (8 weeks). This, and "Kon Tiki" six months earlier, reached number one. The Shadows played on more chart-toppers as Richard's band. This group, referred to subsequently as "The Original Shadows," had seven hits.
In October 1961 Meehan was replaced by Brian Bennett and in April 1962 Harris was replaced by Brian Locking, also known as Licorice. Bennett and Licorice were friends from the 2I's who had both previously been in Marty Wilde's backing group The Wildcats who also recorded instrumentals as The Krew Kats. This Shadows line-up also produced seven hits, two of which, "Dance On!" and "Foot Tapper" topped the charts. The Marvin-Welch-Bennett-Locking line-up lasted 18 months. In October 1963 Locking left to spend more time as a Jehovah's Witness. The band had met John Rostill on tour with other bands and had been impressed by his playing, so they invited him to take over. This final and longest-lasting line-up was also the most innovative as they tried different guitars and developed a wider range of styles and higher musicianship. They produced impressive albums but the chart positions of singles began to ease. The line-up had ten hits but the most successful, "The Rise and Fall of Flingle Bunt," was also the first of those ten.
During the 1960s the group appeared with Cliff Richard in the films The Young Ones, Summer Holiday, Wonderful Life, Finders Keepers and as marionettes in the Gerry Anderson filmThunderbirds Are GO. They starred in a short humorous B-movie film called Rhythm 'n Greens which became the basis of a music book and an "EP." They appeared on stage in pantomime.Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp was in 1964 at the London Palladium with Arthur Askey as Widow Twankey, Richard as Aladdin, and The Shadows as Wishee, Washee, Noshee and Toshee. Cinderella at the Palladium in 1966 featured Richard as Buttons and The Shadows as the Broker's Men, The 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 credited to Marvin-Welch-Bennett-Rostill. In 1967 The Shadows usedOlivia Newton-John to feature on one track The Day I Met Marie on their album From Hank Bruce Brian and John (SX6199/SCX6199).
The line-up split in December 1968, after the tenth anniversary album Established 1958, a mixture of tracks (7 plus 7) with Richard, and instrumentals featuring just The Shadows. All were written by the group. Welch left. This was almost the end, although an album (Shades of Rock) in 1970 and a tour of Japan in 1969 followed with Alan Hawkshaw on keyboards; in Marvin's words, they did it 'for the Yen.' The live LP of the tour features a long version of "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" in which Marvin plays acoustic and electric guitar.
1970s[edit source | edit]
The group began 1970 by appearing on the BBC's highly rated review of the sixties music scene Pop Go The Sixties, performing "Apache" and backing Cliff Richard for "Bachelor Boy," live on the show broadcast across Europe andBBC1, on 31 December 1969. This was followed by Hank and a reconstituted Shadows becoming the resident guests on Cliff Richard's debut TV series for the BBC, It's Cliff Richard!. During the early 1970s, Marvin and Welch had a second career as vocal group Marvin Welch & Farrar with Australian John Farrar as third vocalist. Farrar provided a distinctive, high falsetto vocal style and skill as an arranger. They recorded two acclaimed albums and several singles and, without Welch, a third album Marvin and Farrar. Live performances were hampered by audiences expecting the Shadows' greatest hits. Marvin said (interviewed in Guitar Greats by John Tobler), "In the Batley Variety Club we walked off stage to the sound of our own footsteps!"
The Shadows reformed in 1973 with Welch on rhythm guitar and Farrar on guitar and vocals. Following the death of John Rostill, the group booked session bassists for recordings and tours. Dave Richmond and Alan Tarney, who had each provided bass for Marvin, Welch & Farrar, continued for the reformed Shadows. An album, Rockin' with Curly Leads featured Marvin using contemporary guitar fuzz effects to modify his sound. Some tracks used Farrar as second lead guitarist, giving this album a very different sound from previous recordings.
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 options, seen each week on a weekly television show It's Lulu, televised on BBC1 and hosted by Lulu, a former Eurovision winner herself. Unusually for the format, instead of presenting each song live in the studio on a weekly basis and then presenting all six songs consecutively in a 'special' edition on week seven, the group pre-taped all six performances separately in the TV studio, before the series itself began, with the video then being 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-penned by members of the group themselves. The public however voted for "Let Me Be The One," composed by Paul Curtis, to go to the Eurovision final in Stockholm. There, the group came second to the Dutch entry, Teach-In's "Ding-A-Dong". Having long since stepped out of Cliff Richard's 'shadow', this was a rare excursion into lyrics for a band better known for instrumentals (however they had cut vocal tracks on most albums, plus some singles 'B' sides, and had two charting vocal singles in the sixties). Bruce Welch had lead vocal duties, and let the world know when he forgot a couple of words when he turned to his 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 recorded in the 'Song For Europe' history. But the contest re-established The Shadows and the single climbed to number 12 in the UK charts. An album of new material, including both vocal and instrumental tracks Specs Appeal was released to coincide with their Eurovision appearance.
In 1976 EMI released a compilation album of recordings from 1962 to 1970: Rarities with sleeve notes written by John Friesen. The first half of the album was by The Shadows and the second half was from Hank Marvin's solo career.
Following the rare vocal single 'It'll Be Me, Babe' (written and sung by Marvin & Farrar) John Farrar departed the band that year, quite amicably relocating to the USA to successfully Produce Olivia Newton-John. Among her hits Farrar would write 'You're The One That I Want' (covered by The Shadows in 1979) for Olivia & John Travolta for the film 'Grease'.
The packaging of the group's greatest hits in Twenty Golden Greats by EMI in 1977 prompted the group to reform yet again for a tour featuring Francis Monkman from Sky on keyboards, leading to a number one album. 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).
In 1979 they initially recorded their version of Cavatina which became another hit single and then they recorded ten more tracks (with Alan Jones on Bass) for the String of Hits album on EMI which topped the album charts causing EMI to moot a follow up compilation album akin to a 'String of Hits-volume 2' with 13 old (including a Hank Marvin solo track), and one unreleased tracks culled from albums previously released in 1967, 1969, 1970, 1973, 1975 and 1977 of various cover versions of hit singles which was eventually released as Another String of Hot Hits in 1980.
1980s[edit source | edit]
The group performed and recorded until 1990, with most of their 1980s albums performing well in the charts. With the exception of Guardian Angel, an album of almost 100% new material, most of 1980s albums featured covers of pop songs, with little original material. The group moved in 1980 from EMI to Polydor with Change of Address (followed by Hits Right Up Your Street in 1981, Life in the Jungle in 1982). EMI would not agree to a tape leasing scheme, whereby the group would retain copyright of recordings, but the company would be licensed to publish them for individual albums. This resulted in the group re-recording much of its catalogue of 1960s EMI hits for Polydor with the 1989 album At Their Very Best. The recordings were made using analogue equipment but digitally mastered, with instruments, amplifiers, and arrangements close to the original recordings. This has allowed the group to package and market their own compilation albums, featuring old hits as well as new.
1990s[edit source | edit]
In the 1990s all albums were reissued as Compact Discs by EMI and Polydor.
2000s[edit source | edit]
The group reformed in 2004 to mount a farewell tour, and they recorded a new track, "Life Story," (written by Jerry Lordan) to accompany a new greatest hits package of the same name which featured '80s 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 so successful that they extended the tour to Europe in 2005. The line-up was almost the same, but Warren Bennett, son of Brian, came in on keyboards instead of Hall. On 27 November 2008, a concert tour, with Cliff Richard, for 2009 was announced. On 11 December 2008, Cliff Richard and the Shadows performed at the Royal Variety Performance at the same time announcing their forthcoming 50th anniversary tour. The tour commenced in September 2009 with 36 shows throughout the UK and Europe and extended to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in 2010.
2010s[edit source | edit]
The Final Tour was reissued on the Blu-ray format by Eagle Records in 2010.
Style and image[edit source | edit]
What's the most distinctive sound of our group? We often wondered what it is ourselves. Really, it is the sound we had when we recorded "Apache" – that kind of Hawaiian sounding lead guitar ... plus the beat.
Band logo[edit source | edit]
As pioneers in British rock-music The Shadows and their management were naïve in terms of exploiting commercial opportunities such as self-promotion via artwork. They allowed Vox amplification to produce small metallic badges in a script typeface, with the group name to be positioned on the front bottom right corner of all three Vox cabinets sometime during the early 1960s for gig usage. This badge became the "default" band logo but was never commercially exploited by the group.
Unlike later groups such as The Beatles, The Shadows never used the logo on the front of the bass-drum, preferring to allow their two drummers, Tony Meehan and Brian 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 proper band logo instead four silhouettes of the original line up, in ascending order of height, were used as a pseudo-band logo on concert program covers and various artwork projects such as sheet music, EP and album covers. From left to right after the drum-kit there was Tony Meehan, Jet Harris, Hank Marvin, Bruce Welch. The original artwork group silhouette was modified each time a band member was changed. The last version of the Shadows group-silhouette featured Brian Bennett and John Rostill in the late 1960s. During the 1970s EMI dropped the use of the group silhouettes preferring to use silhouettes or light-induced shadows of three guitar necks or color photos of the Shadows for promotion. During the latter half of the 1980s Polydor records used a red Fender Stratocaster (with white scratch plate) guitar as a symbol for the Shadows.
The Shadows' 'walk'[edit source | edit]
In 1958 Bruce Welch went to see a concert as part of the ill-fated 1958 Jerry Lee Lewis tour of the UK of which he later 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 sax 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 a number of movement sequences using their bodies and guitars in tempo with the music played, such as the 'walk'. As seen on BBC's Top of the Pops this 'walk' has been copied by numerous groups as part of their TOTP presentation e.g. Mud, The Rubettes, Showaddywaddy, Yellow Dog. The walk consists of three steps contained within a 60-60-60-degree triangle formation with a reverse right-heel back-kick with optional can-can finale. This simple choreographed routine was varied throughout a typical gig during certain numbers, for example, "FBI."
During the 1980s, rather than playing their instruments in a static posture, during an instrumental number, or using "the Shadows' walk," their live act was further refined to include another routine stage movement effect. This featured Marvin, Welch and the bassist synchronising all their guitars in unison as a threesome to move them in time, or in sequence, with critical note or chord changes.
Occasionally, during other instrumentals, this guitars in-step presentation mode is re-engineered with Marvin and Welch acting out of sequence or alternating with each other.
Stage names[edit source | edit]
During the late 1950s in the UK many pop stars were expected to undergo a name change to a 'stage' name, (as in the case of Billy Fury or Adam Faith). Several members of the original "Cliff Richard and The Shadows" line-up changed their birth names to stage names; Harry Webb became Cliff Richard, Brian Rankin became Hank Marvin, Terrence Harris became Jet Harris, and Bruce Cripps became Bruce Welch. Subsequently the names "Cliff Richard" and "Hank Brian Marvin" were confirmed by deed poll.
Legacy and influence
The Shadows have been cited as a major influence on some American guitarists but also many British, Australian, Canadian and European guitarists, including Eric Clapton, David Gilmour, Tony Iommi, Mark Knopfler, Neil Young,Steve Clark, Randy Bachman and Øystein Sunde.