John Lennon once said in an interview that “before Cliff and the Shadows, there had been nothing worth listening to in British music”, he was of course referring to the UK Rock and Roll and instrumental group known as Cliff Richard and The Shadows. Their sound isn't always specifially described as Surf Rock, but more of an instrumental Rock group with a distinctive sound, that in some cases leans towards Surf sounding material. In the late 50s and early 60s Cliff Richard and The Shadows were very popular in the British music scene, The Shadows are often referred to as one of the most important bands in Rock and Roll history, not to mention a very influential one. The band got their start in the late 50s known as The Drifters, they quickly became the backing band for Cliff Richard and after making some recordings with his backing band were labeled as Cliff Richard and The Drifters. Their first single was the song “Move It” written by guitarist Ian Samwell which was initially intended to be the B-side to the song “Schoolboy Crush”, the song went to number two in the UK singles charts, the single is considered to be one of the first original Rock and Roll songs to be produced outside of the US. At this point the band consisted of Cliff Richard (real name Harry Webb) on guitar/vocals, Terry Smart on drums, and Ian Samwell on guitar. For the recording of “Schoolboy Crush/Move It” this line up also featured two session musicians, although it should be mentioned that the band went through many line up changes in their early days.
Regardless the band became very popular and it wasn’t until the band added guitarists Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch, who were previously in a Skiffle group known as The Chesternuts that not only the bands name would change, but so would their sound. With the addition of these two virtuoso guitarists, Cliff Richard and The Drifters quickly became Cliff Richard and The Shadows (also as a result of a conflict with a US R&B Soul group with the name The Drifters). The band shortly after this line up change altered yet again with Jet Harris moving in on bass and Tony Meehan on drums. For the next four years Cliff Richard and The Shadows dominated the British Rock and Roll scene for the next four years that coincided with a series of number one albums and singles, it should also be noted that The Shadows released recordings on their own without Cliff Richard in the title and became a highly regarded band in their own right as well. Cliff Richard and The Shadows are perhaps best known for their 1960 single “Apache”, which was a song written by Jerry Lordan, but was recorded and released by The Shadows in 1960. The song is notable for Hank Marvin’s unique sound and use of the tremolo arm on his Fender Stratocaster, which would later be emulated by Surf bands for decades.
Another influential UK instrumental Surf based group is The Tornados, not to be confused with the other Surf group The Tornadoes who are from the US. The band is best known for the number one US/UK charting single “Telstar” which was produced by UK producer Joe Meek. The band was once considered the rival band to The Shadows, when they released their 1963 single “Globetrotter”. "Globetrotter" went to number five on the UK singles charts, but following bassist Heinz Burt's departure in 1963, the groups status began to decline. By the year 1965, The Tornados no longer had any original members in the group and were often billed as Tornados 65 or The New Tornados when playing live.
The Tornados were put together by Joe Meek, a visionary UK independent music producer who invented recording techniques that are still used to this day. The original line up of the group was made up of Alan Caddy, George Bellamy on guitars, Heinz Burt on bass, Roger LaVern on organ and Clem Cattini on drums. Their first single, “Love and Fury” did not chart when released in 1962. It wasn’t until producer Joe Meek came up with the idea for “Telstar” that the group began to receive attention. “Telstar” was named after the AT&T communications satellite of the same name, and featured several “space age” sounding effects and production techniques employing elements of echo and its use of the clavioline. The result of this high charting single sold roughly five million worldwide and it should have made Joe Meek a millionaire and the band very successful financially, but due to a French copyright infringement, the royalties were tied up for the next six years. The band were also prevented from touring internationally in the US in support of “Telstar” because of a contract they signed backing up UK musician Billy Fury from 1962 to 1963, they also recorded with him during this time as well.
Regardless of the outcomes, both bands Cliff Richard and The Shadows and The Tornados were crucial to the history of Rock and Surf music being not only successful in their own right, but also influential and still regarded as important bands in Rock music history.
Revolution Surf Play List:
1. Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet – Customized
2. The Shadows – 36-24-36
3. Progressives – Hot Cinders
4. Space Plan - Tread Lightly
5. Los Straitjackets – Tarantula
6. The Dakotas – The Cruel Sea
7. The Boardwalkers – Bikini Drag
8. The Trashmen – Bad News
9. The Panasonics - Panther
10. The Ventures – Telstar
11. The Tornados – Life on Venus
12. The Incredible Mr. Smith – Heroes
13. The Marketts – Twilight City
14. James Eddie Campell – Comet Toast
15. Chiyo & The Crescents – Devil Surf
16. The Houstons – Solar Light
17. The Reverb Syndicate – Guadalupe’s Lab
18. Davie Allan & The Arrows – Outer Surf
19. Rockets – Apache
20. Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet - Popcorn
21. The Shadows – Midnight
22. The Sadies – The Double Wide
23. The Challengers – Volcanic Action
24. The Gruesomes - Axe-Handle Cove
25. The Gruesomes - Whirlpool
26. The Robots - Ride The Surf
27. Link Wray – Drag Race
28. The Burnin' Sands - Typhoon
29. The Tornados – Hot Pot
To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for February 28. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.