Sir Cliff Richard OBE (born Harry Roger Webb on 14 October 1940) is a British singer-songwriter and entrepreneur.
With his backing group The Shadows, Richard dominated the British popular music scene in the late 1950s and early 1960s, before and during The Beatles' first year in the charts. A conversion to Christianity and subsequent softening of his music led to his having more of a pop than rock image. He never achieved the same impact in the United States despite several chart singles there, but he has remained a popular music, film, and television personality in the United Kingdom and he retains a following in other countries.
During six decades, Cliff Richard has charted many singles, and holds the record (with Elvis Presley) as the only act to make the UK singles charts in all of its decades (1950s?2000s). He is the only singer to have had a number one single in the UK in five consecutive decades, doing so from the 1950s through to the 1990s. On the British charts, Richard has had more than 130 , albums and EPs make the top 20, more than any other artist. He has sold more than 250 million records.
Cliff Richard was born to Anglo-Indian parents, at the King George Hospital, Victoria Street, in Lucknow, British India, to Rodger Oscar, a manager for a catering contractor that serviced the Indian Railways, and Dorothy Marie (born Dazely) Webb. He was christened on 2 November, 1940 at St Thomas' Church, Dehradun, India. In 1948, following Indian independence, the family moved to Britain. The Webbs moved from comparative wealth in India where they had servants and lived in a company supplied flat at Howrah near Calcutta, to the semi-detached house of Harry's grandmother in Carshalton, Surrey. In 1949 his father obtained employment in the credit control office of Thorn Electrical Industries and the family moved in with other relatives in Hertfordshire until a three-bedroom council house in Cheshunt was allocated to them in 1950. Harry then attended Cheshunt Secondary Modern School (which was later renamed Cheshunt School) from 1952 to 1957. As a member of the top stream he stayed on beyond the mimimum leaving age to take GCE Ordinary Level examinations and he gained a pass in English. He then started work as a filing clerk for a company called Atlas Lamps.
Webb became interested in skiffle, his father bought him a guitar at 16 and he formed the Quintones vocal group in 1957. He then sang in the Dick Teague Skiffle Group.
1958?1963: Success and stardom
Harry Webb became lead singer of a rock and roll group, The Drifters (not to be confused with the U.S. group of the same name). Before their first large scale appearance, at the Regal Ballroom in Ripley, Derbyshire, in 1958, they adopted the name "Cliff Richard and the Drifters". The four members were Webb, Ian "Sammy" Samwell on guitar, Terry Smart on drums and Norman Mitham on guitar. None of the other three played with the later and better known Shadows, although Samwell wrote songs for Richard's later career.
For his d?but session, Norrie Paramor provided Richard with "Schoolboy Crush", a cover of an American record by Bobby Helms. Richard was permitted to record one of his own songs for the B-side; this was "Move It", written by the Drifters' Samwell on a number 715 Green Line bus on the way to Richard's house for a rehearsal. For the Move It session Paramor used the session guitarist Ernie Shears on lead-guitar and Frank Clark on bass.
There are a number of stories about why the A-side was replaced by the intended B-side. One is that Norrie Paramor's young daughter raved about the B-side; another was that influential TV producer Jack Good, who used the act for his TV show Oh Boy!, wanted the only song on his show to be "Move It".
The single went to No. 2 on the UK charts. Music critics Roy Carr and Tony Tyler wrote that it was the first genuine British rock classic, followed by Johnny Kidd and the Pirates' "Shakin' All Over". John Lennon was quoted as saying that "Move It" was the first English rock record.
In the early days, Cliff Richard was marketed as the British equivalent to Elvis Presley. As did previous British rockers such as Tommy Steele and Marty Wilde, Richard adopted Presley-like dress and hairstyle. In performance he struck a pose of rock attitude, rarely smiling or looking at the audience or camera. His late 1958 and early 1959 follow-up singles, "High Class Baby" and "Livin' Lovin' Doll", were followed by "Mean Streak", which carried a rocker's sense of speed and passion, and Lionel Bart's "Living Doll". It was on "Living Doll" that the Drifters began to back Richard on record. By that time the group's lineup had changed with the arrival of Jet Harris, Tony Meehan, Hank Marvin, and Bruce Welch. The group was obliged to change its name to "The Shadows" after legal complications with the U.S. Drifters as "Living Doll" entered the American top 40, licensed by ABC-Paramount.
The Shadows were not a typical backing group. They would become contractually separate from Richard, and the group received no royalties for records backing Richard. In 1959, The Shadows (then still the Drifters) landed an EMI recording contract of their own, for independent recordings. That year, they released three singles, two of which featured double-sided vocals and one of which had instrumental A and B sides. In 1960, they recorded and released "Apache". Reaching the top of the charts in more than one country, the single set The Shadows on a path of their own. They thereafter had several major hits, including five UK No. 1s. The band also continued to appear and record with Richard and wrote many of his hits. On more than one occasion, a Shadows' instrumental replaced a Richard song at the top of the British charts.
Richard's fifth single "Living Doll" triggered a softer, more relaxed, sound. Subsequent hits, the No. 1s "Travellin' Light" and "I Love You" and also "A Voice in the Wilderness" and "Theme for a Dream" cemented Richard's status as a mainstream pop entertainer along with contemporaries such as Adam Faith and Billy Fury. Throughout the early sixties his hits were consistently in the top five.
Typically, The Shadows closed the first half of the show with a 30-minute set of their own, then backed Richard on his show-closing 45-minute stint. Tony Meehan and Jet Harris left the group in 1961 and 1962 respectively and later had their own chart successes for Decca_Records. The Shadows added bass players and took on Brian Bennett on drums.
In the early days, Richard sometimes recorded without The Shadows in order to cater to other styles. Even after the Beatles' rise he continued to achieve hits, although more often with an orchestra rather than The Shadows: a revival of "It's All In The Game" and "Constantly". A session under the direction of Billy Sherrill in Nashville yielded two more top two hits: "The Minute You're Gone" and "Wind Me Up" in 1965.
Cliff Richard and in particular, The Shadows never achieved star status in the United States. In 1960 they toured the U.S. and were well-received; however, lacklustre support and distribution from a revolving door of American record labels proved an obstacle to long-term success Stateside despite several chart records by Cliff including the aforementioned "It's All In The Game" on Epic, via a renewed linking of the worldwide Columbia labels after Philips ended its distribution deal with CBS. To the Shadows' chagrin, Apache reached #1 in The U. S. via a cover version by Danish guitarist Jorgen Ingmann which was virtually unchanged from their worldwide hit, save a sound effect Ingmann added evoking whooshing arrows in flight created by flicking his fingers on the fretboard. Cliff and the band appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, which was crucial for The Beatles', but these performances did not help them gain sustained success in North America.
Richard and The Shadows appeared in six feature films, including a rather odd d?but in the 1959 film Serious Charge but most notably in The Young Ones, (the title song being his biggest hit up to "Mistletoe and Wine"); Summer Holiday (which featured a slimmed-down Richard with visible dancing skills), Wonderful Life and Finders Keepers. These films created their own genre known as the "Cliff Richard musical" and led to Richard being named the number one cinema box office attraction in Britain for both 1962 and 1963. The irreverent 1980s TV sitcom The Young Ones took its name from Richard's 1962 movie, and also made references to the singer. In 1966, Richard and the Shadows appeared as marionettes in the Gerry Anderson film Thunderbirds Are GO. In the summer of 1963 Cliff and the Shadows appeared for a season in Blackpool, where Cliff had his portrait modelled by Victor Heyfron, M.A.
1964?1975: Changing circumstances
As with the other existing rock acts in Britain, Richard's career was affected by the sudden advent of The Beatles and the Mersey sound in 1963 and 1964. However, his popularity was established enough to allow him to weather the storm and continue to have hits in the charts throughout the 1960s, albeit not at the level that he had enjoyed before. Nor did doors open to him in the U.S. market; he was not considered part of the British Invasion, despite four Hot 100 hits (including the top 25 "It's All In The Game") between August 1963 and August 1964, the U.S. public had little awareness of him. However, he continued having international hits, including 1967's "The Day I Met Marie", which reached #10 in the UK Singles Chart and #5 in the Australian charts, and is considered a quintessential summer hit, due to its summery nature.
Although baptised as an Anglican, Richard did not appear to practise the faith in his early years. However, in 1964, he became an active Christian and this conversion has become an important aspect of his life. Standing up publicly as a Christian affected his career in several ways. Initially, he believed that he should quit rock 'n roll, feeling he could no longer be the rocker who had been called a "crude exhibitionist" and "too sexy for TV" and a threat to parents' daughters. However, by the time Richard converted, his image had become tamer due to his film roles and well-spoken manners on radio and TV. Richard intended at first to 'reform his ways' and become a teacher, but Christian friends advised him not to abandon his career just because he had become a Christian. Soon after, Cliff Richard re-emerged, performing with Christian groups and recording some Christian material. He still recorded secular songs with the Shadows, but devoted a lot of his time to Christian work, including appearances with the Billy Graham crusades. As time progressed, Richard balanced his faith and work, enabling him to remain one of the most popular singers in Britain as well as one of its best-known Christians. He was a leading figure in the Nationwide Festival of Light during 1971, protesting against the commercial exploitation of sex and violence in Britain, and advocating the teaching of Christ as the key to recovering moral stability in the nation.
Cliff Richard's first serious acting role took place in the 1967 film Two a Penny, released by Billy Graham's World Wide Pictures, in which he played a young man who gets involved in drug dealing while questioning his life after his girlfriend changes her attitude. He released the live album "Cliff in Japan", which featured Olivia Newton-John as backing singer and John Farrar on guitar (Farrar would later be Newton-John's producer).
Also in 1968 he sang the UK's entry in the Eurovision Song Contest: "Congratulations" by Bill Martin and Phil Coulter; it lost by just one point to Spain's "La La La". According to John Kennedy O'Connor's The Eurovision Song Contest ? The Official History, this was the closest yet result in the contest and Richard locked himself in the toilet to avoid the nerves of the voting. In May 2008 a Reuters news report claimed that voting in the competition had been fixed by the host country's dictator leader, Francisco Franco, to ensure that the Spanish entry won, allowing them to host the contest the following year (1969). In particular, it is claimed that Spanish TVE television executives offered to buy programmes in exchange for votes..This has not been proved beyond doubt, but it is thought likely. The story was widely covered and featured on UK Channel 4 News as a main story, with Jon Snow interviewing author and historian John Kennedy O'Connor about the matter. Eurovision later ended voting by national juries in a bid to eradicate such alleged scams. Nevertheless, "Congratulations" was a huge hit throughout Europe and yet another No.1 in April 1968.
In 1973 he sang the British entry Power to All Our Friends; the song finished third, close behind Luxembourg's "Tu Te Reconna?tras" and Spain's "Eres T?". This time, Richard took Valium in order to overcome his nerves and his manager was almost unable to wake him for the performance. Richard also hosted the BBC's qualifying heat for the Eurovision Song Contest, "A Song for Europe," in 1970, 1971 and 1972 as part of his BBCTV variety series. He presented the Eurovision preview programmes for the BBC in 1971 and 1972.
After the Shadows split in 1968, Richard continued to record. He had already become accustomed to the Shadows' absence, and was able to record in a variety of settings. Although many of his earliest fans regretted that Richard had tried out songs which were not strictly in the rock 'n roll genre, most had got used to his habit of recording rockier material with the Shadows, while producing more middle-of-the-road material at other times; this versatility extended Richard's career prospects.
During the 1970s, Richard took part in television shows, such as It's Cliff, many of which also starred Hank Marvin and Una Stubbs, and which included A Song for Europe. These shows, for a time, branded Cliff Richard as a television personality more than a recording artist. In 1972, he made a short BBC television comedy film called The Case with appearances from comedians and his first-ever duets with a woman, Olivia Newton-John. In 1973 he starred in the film Take Me High.
In 1976 the decision was made to repackage Cliff Richard as a "rock" artist. That year he produced the landmark album I'm Nearly Famous, which included the successful but controversial guitar-driven track "Devil Woman" (Richard's first true hit in the United States) and the ballad "Miss You Nights". Richard's fans were excited about this revival of a performer who had been a part of British rock from its early days. Many music names such as Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, and Elton John were seen sporting I'm Nearly Famous badges, pleased that their boyhood idol was getting back into the heavier rock in which he had begun his career.
Notwithstanding this, Richard continued to release Gospel-tinged albums in parallel with his rock and pop albums, for example: Small Corners from 1978 contained the single "Yes He Lives". Despite his 1976 comeback, this single failed to chart in the United Kingdom. In 1980, the singer officially changed his name by deed poll from Harry Webb to Cliff Richard.
In 1979, Richard teamed up with the producer Bruce Welch for the pop hit single "We Don't Talk Anymore", which hit #1 in the UK and #7 in the U.S. Brian Ferry added the backing vocals to the song, however, he only hummed the backing vocals, he didn't actually ever sing. The record gave Richard the distinction of becoming the first act to reach the Hot 100 in the 1980s who had also reached the Hot 100 in each of the three previous decades. The song was quickly added onto the end of his latest album Rock 'n' Roll Juvenile. It was his first time at the top of the UK singles chart in over ten years, and the song would become his biggest-selling single ever. The accompanying music video was the sixth to appear on American cable channel MTV when it d?buted Aug. 1, 1981.
At long last he had some extended success in the United States following "Devil Woman". The follow-up "Dreaming" also reached the top ten, peaking at #10. His 1980 duet "Suddenly" with Olivia Newton-John, from the film Xanadu, was a Top 20 hit in America, peaking at #20. Richard continued with a string of top ten albums, including I'm No Hero, Wired For Sound, Now You See Me, Now You Don't, and, marking his 25th year in show business, Silver. The singles chart also saw his most consistent period of top twenty hits since the mid 1960s, with three of them on the Hot 100 at the same time at the end of 1980. His 1985 single "She's So Beautiful" reached No.17 in the UK. 1987 saw Richard record his Always Guaranteed album, which became his best selling album of all new material. It contained the two top ten hit singles, "My Pretty One" and "Some People". Richard concluded his thirtieth year in music in spectacular chart style, reaching number one on the British singles chart with "Mistletoe and Wine", while simultaneously holding the number one positions on the album and video charts with the compilation Private Collection summing up his biggest hits from 1979-1988. "Mistletoe and Wine" was his biggest seller to that point.
In 1986, Richard teamed up with The Young Ones to re-record his smash hit "Living Doll" for the charity Comic Relief. Along with the song, the recording contained comedy dialogue between Richard and The Young Ones. The release went to no.1. That same year he opened in the West End as a rock musician called upon to defend Earth in a trial set in the Andromeda Galaxy in the multi-media Dave Clark musical Time.
Further top ten albums included Stronger in 1989, which included the UK No.2 hit "Best Of Me", and UK No.3 "Just Don't Have The Heart" written and produced by Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman , From a Distance in 1990. Later that year, Richard scored his second UK Christmas No. 1 single with Saviour's Day. Richard unsuccessfully bid for the Christmas No.1 spot again with We Should Be Together and Healing Love in 1991 and 1993 respectively - the latter being taken from his No.1 studio album Cliff Richard - The Album. The next few years saw Richard concentrate on bringing the musical Heathcliff to the stage. The production was a resounding success, but the time it took seemed to take a toll on his reinvigorated chart status. Back in the UK during the next years and throughout the 1980s, Richard remained one of the best-known music artists in the country. In the space of a few years he worked with Elton John, Mark Knopfler, Julian Lennon, Freddie Mercury, Stevie Wonder, Phil Everly, Janet Jackson, Sheila Walsh, and Van Morrison. Richard also reunited with Olivia Newton-John. In 1989, he filled the Wembley Stadium for a few nights with a spectacular titled "The Event". Meanwhile, the Shadows later re-formed (and again split). They recorded on their own, but also reunited with Richard in 1978, 1984, and 1989-90 for some concerts. On 14 June, 2004 Cliff Richard joined the Shadows on-stage at the London Palladium. The Shadows had decided to re-form for one final tour of the UK, with this concert heralded as their final ever concert as "Cliff and the Shadows."
Sir Cliff (1995 - present)
Cliff Richard was knighted on 25 October, 1995, the first rock star to be so honoured (Bob Geldof had received his honorary knighthood a full nine years earlier, but as a non-British citizen, he is not permitted to use the accolade 'Sir', whether in the UK or abroad). Richard was knighted ahead of Paul McCartney (1997), Elton John (1998), Mick Jagger and Tom Jones. In 1998, Richard demonstrated that radio stations were refusing to play his music by releasing his latest single "Can't Keep This Feeling In" on a white label under the pseudonym of Blacknight. The single was well regarded and featured on playlists until the true artist was revealed.
In 1999, controversy arose regarding radio stations refusing to play his releases when EMI, Richard's label since 1958, refused to release his latest song, "Millennium Prayer". Richard took it to an independent label, Papillon, which released the charity recording (in aid of Children's Promise). The single went on to top the UK chart for three weeks, his fourteenth No.1, and the third highest-selling single of his career. Richard's next album (2001) was a covers project, Wanted, followed by another top ten album with Cliff at Christmas. The holiday album contained both new and older recordings, including the single "Santa's List", which reached No.5 in 2003. Richard decamped to Nashville, Tennessee for his next album project in 2004, employing a writer's conclave to give him the pick of all new songs for the album Something's Goin' On. Though the collection was critically well-received, it had disappointing sales. Nevertheless it was yet another top ten album, and produced three top fifteen singles: "Something's Goin' On", "I Cannot Give You My Love", with Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees, and the lively "What Car". Richard did not hide his disappointment with the album's lacklustre sales, and it was speculated that it might have been his last ever album of original songs.
Cliff Richard finished number 56 in the 2002 100 Greatest Britons list, sponsored by the BBC and voted for by the public. Adored especially by baby boomer women, many of whom camp out for his concert tickets, he has become a fixture of the British entertainment world and once led the Wimbledon Centre Court crowd in singing during a rain delay in 1996 when asked by Wimbledon officials to entertain the crowd. Richard was not aware this performance was actually televised by the BBC and after singing six of his golden greats, TV presenter Des Lynam commented on this and added jokingly "we'll probably get one hell of a bill". The performance was front page headlines on many of the major British newspapers the following day.
2006 saw Richard's album of duets, (another top 10 success) including newly-recorded material with Brian May, Dionne Warwick, Anne Murray, Barry Gibb and Daniel O'Donnell, plus some previously recorded duets with artists such as Phil Everly, Elton John and Olivia Newton-John. 'Two's Company' was released to coincide with the UK leg of his latest world tour, 'Here and Now' which included a number of lesser known, but fan-favourite songs including, My Kinda Life, How Did She Get Here, Hey Mr. Dream Maker, For Life, A Matter Of Moments, When The Girl In Your Arms, Every Face Tells A Story, Peace In Our Time and the Christmas single 21st Century Christmas, which debuted at No.2 on the UK singles chart.
Richard's mother, Dorothy Webb, suffered from dementia. In a September 2006 interview with the Daily Mail, he spoke about the difficulties he and his sisters had in dealing with their mother's condition. On 18 October, 2007 a statement on the star's website read, "We are sad to report that Cliff's mother, Dorothy, passed away early on 17 October; she was 87."
Another compilation album, Love... The Album was released on 12 November. Like Two's Company before it, this album includes both previously released material and newly-recorded songs, namely Waiting For A Girl Like You, When You Say Nothing At All, All Out Of Love, If You're Not the One and When I Need You (the latter was released as a single, reaching Number 38), (the album peaked at number 13). The concept of the project has divided fans who anticipate an album of new material.
In 2008, Richard's 50th year in music, there was the release of the 8CD box set, And They Said It Wouldn't Last (My 50 Years In Music).
In September, a single celebrating his 50 years in pop music, titled * Thank you for a Lifetime was released. On the 14th of September, 2008, Thank You For A Lifetime, reached No.3 on the UK music charts.
On 2 November, 2008, British newspaper The Mail on Sunday gave away a free promotional CD entitled '50th Anniversary' containing 12 tracks picked by Sir Cliff himself.
On 11 November, 2008, Cliff Richard's Official Homepage announced that 20 years since their latest concert together, Cliff & The Shadows would reunite to celebrate their 50th anniversary in the music business. In the late '50s and early '60s, Cliff & The Shadows dominated the English pop-music scene with their record-breaking careers - together and as solo acts, establishing their impressing place in history of pop. They picked up no less than 19 No 1 hits, like Living Doll, Travellin' Light, Please Don't Tease, Bachelor Boy, Wonderful Land and Apache. They starred together in the still popular films Summer Holiday and The Young Ones.
On 11 December 2008, Cliff Richard and the Shadows performed at the Royal Variety Performance. In 2009 Cliff & The Shadows will bring their partnership to an end with the "Golden Anniversary concert tour of the UK". A new album by Cliff Richard and the Shadows was released in September, titled 'Reunited' it was their first studio project in forty years. The 28 tracks recorded comprises 25 re-recordings of their earlier classics, with three 'new' tracks, originally from that era (and earlier), the single Singing the Blues, along with Eddie Cochran's C'mon Everybody and the Frankie Ford hit Sea Cruise. The tracks are to be spread across the single and its bonus tracks, a limited edition version of the album, as well as a standard CD release. The album charted at number six in the UK charts in its opening week. The reunion tour is to continue into Europe in 2010. According to The Sunday Times Rich List 2009 he is worth ?40m
Richard has become joint owner of the Arora International Hotel in Manchester, which opened in June 2004. He also owns a Quinta in the Algarve, Portugal, where he is involved in the production of wines at the Adega do Cantor (?Winery of the Singer?), a state-of-the-art winery in Guia, near Albufeira. In 2006, Cliff Richard received Portugal?s equivalent of a knighthood in recognition of his 40 years of personal and business involvement in that country.
Lack of commercial support
Cliff Richard openly complains about the lack of commercial support he receives from radio stations and record labels. He spoke about this on The Alan Titchmarsh Show on ITV in December 2007, pointing out that while new bands needed airplay for promotion and sales, long-established artists like himself also relied upon airplay for the same ends. He did note, however, that so-called eighties radio stations did play his records and that this went some way to help sales and maintain his media presence. In the recent BBC Radio 2 documentary "Cliff - Take Another Look", he pointed out that many documentaries charting the history of British music fail to even mention him.
Cliff Richard's protracted chart success undermines radio stations' claims that he does not enjoy the support of their target audiences. Richard believes he is "the most radical rock star there has ever been". Richard's premise is that his decision not to adopt the "sex, drugs and alcohol" image expected of rock stars, then and now, was the truly avant-garde choice.
Richard is a lifelong bachelor. He has said that he once considered marriage to the dancer Jackie Irving, and later to tennis star Sue Barker. Richard currently lives with a former Roman Catholic priest, John McElynn, whom he met in 2001 while doing charity work in the United States. He has been described as Cliff's property manager and looks after his houses while Cliff is away. This friendship has added to long-standing rumours that Richard is gay, a claim that he denied in 1996. Describing McElynn as a close friend and companion, Richard has said: "I am sick to death of the media?s speculation about it... What business is it of anyone else?s what any of us are as individuals? I don?t think my fans would care either way."
He has also gone on record to suggest the Church of England affirm a commitment to same-sex marriage. In his recent autobiography, he states clearly that "... many of my friends are gay - let's face it, homosexuality has been legal for more than thirty years. For me, the commitment is what counts - and I'll leave the judging to God."
Cliff Richard has scored fourteen No.1 singles in the UK.
As a performer, Cliff Richard has scored the most top 10 hits on the UK singles charts (70), the most top 20 hits (97) and the most top 40 hits (125). (Double A-sides count as two hits; Richard has charted two double A-sides in the top ten, and five double A-sides in the top forty.)
Based solely on data used to compile the Official UK Singles Charts, Richard has sold more singles in the UK than any other act, with sales exceeding twenty million copies. Interestingly enough, he has scored only one million-selling single: "The Young Ones". This does not reflect his total sales as the data used to compile the charts in the early part of his career was only partial. Sales from his 1950s singles would be significantly understated in this figure.
Cliff Richard has had top ten hits in each of the last six decades.
Cliff Richard is the only act in the UK to score a No.1 single in each of the first five decades since the inception of the UK Singles chart in 1952. His chart peak in the 2000s is No.2. The following list shows the number of chart toppers Richard has achieved in each decade.
1950s - 2:
1960s - 7:
"Please Don't Tease",
"I Love You",
"The Young Ones",
"The Next Time" / "Bachelor Boy",
"The Minute You're Gone",
1970s - 1:
"We Don't Talk Anymore"
1980s - 2:
"Mistletoe and Wine"
1990s - 2:
Cliff Richard has spent the second highest time on the British charts of any act. The acts with the most aggregate time spent on the British record charts:
Elvis Presley (2,574 days)
Cliff Richard (1,983)
The Beatles (1,749)
Elton John (1,626)
Cliff Richard has aimed for the Christmas number one single on several occasions, sometimes successfully. His first Christmas number one (on some charts) was in 1960, but that single, "I Love You," was not a yuletide-themed song.
In later years, Richard often released songs with a Christmas or other religious theme:
1969: "With the Eyes of a Child" (#20)
1982: "Little Town" (#11)
1988: "Mistletoe and Wine" (#1)
1989: "Whenever God Shines His Light" (duet with Van Morrison
1990: "Saviour's Day" (#1)
1991: "We Should Be Together" (#10)
1999: "The Millennium Prayer" (#1)
2003: "Santa's List" (#5)
2006: "21st Century Christmas" (#2)
He also featured on the 1989 Christmas number one by Band Aid II, thus appearing at the top of the charts for three consecutive Christmases.