Sir Cliff laughs in the face of the recent cold snap by keeping his shirt open
After a mammoth Beatles Advent Calendar post yesterday, today, December 21st, brings you another person who has so far had three UK Christmas Number Ones. So let’s open that little cardboard flap and see who it is. You’ll firstly be taken back to Christmas 1960 when I was fast approaching the milestone of two years old. It was the first of Cliff Richard’s UK Christmas Number Ones and on this one he was backed by the Shadows, it is called “I Love You”. Cliff is the only act to have achieved UK Christmas Number ones in three separate decades. The other two were “Mistletoe And Wine” in 1988 and “Saviours Day” in 1990. Thankfully the awful, in my opinion anyway, Cliff’s “Millennium Prayer” didn’t make it to the top at Christmas 1999, however it did get to number one for two weeks and was deposed by Westlife, with “I Have A Dream/ Seasons In The Sun“. Of the two I’m really not sure which was the worst, but a 2004 VH1 poll registered “Millennium Prayer” as the worst number one ever. I presume that makes it officially a pile of number twos!
Sir Cliff prepares to celebrate his first UK Christmas Number One
After Hank and the boys moved on Cliff struggled to play his guitar parts on air guitar
Anyway onto the three songs that made it to that coveted UK Christmas Number One spot for Cliff. Firstly with “I Love You” backed by the Shadows in 1960. The song was written by Bruce Welch off of the Shadows and stayed at the top for just two weeks. John Lennon once said that ‘before Cliff and the Shadows there was nothing worth listening to in British Music’ Whilst Cliff went on to massive success without the Shadows, they too were a very successful band. Cliff has had a total of 14 UK number ones, sadly that record is now equalled by Westlife, which puts him and them just behind the Beatles on 17 and Elvis on 21. The Shadows had three number ones in their own right, including the fabulous “Apache” from 1960, and a further seven backing Cliff.
Sir Cliff's cunning plan to disguise himself as Santa wasn't a great success
Cliff waited 28 years for his next UK Christmas Number One which arrived in 1988, it was called “Mistletoe And Wine”, certainly not one of my favourites, but then, to each their own as they say! The song comes from a 1976 musical adaptation of Han’s Christian Andersen’s ‘The Little Match Girl‘. It was Cliff’s 99th UK single, which whether you like him or not is an astonishing record (no pun intended!) It was also his 12th UK number one and the biggest selling single of 1998, it spent 4 weeks at number one. Like many Christmas themed songs it often returns to the UK charts in December.
And there was me thinking that only Freddie Mercury could get away with clothes like that!
The third and so far final UK Christmas UK Number One from Cliff was “Saviours Day” in 1990. The video for the song was filmed in Dorset. It is one of only three UK Christmas Number Ones to remain at the top for just one week. An honour it shares with “Goodbye” from the Spice Girls in 1998 and “Killing In The Name” from Rage Against The Machine in 2009. At the time of writing Matt Cardle’s “When We Collide” has been at the chart summit for less than a week, but I expect that it will remain for a bit longer yet. I find it pretty sad that once again the X Factor gets the Christmas Number One slot. We must do better next year people, let’s make sure it doesn’t happen. We need another Rage Against The Machine moment, let’s start a Facebook campaign now!
Madonna, Amy Winehouse and Sir Cliff Richard in Lego..... a strange trio if you ask me!