Interview with CLIFF RICHARD ahead of his Hampton Court Palace Festival shows this weekend


If you hadn't gone into a career in singing what could you see yourself doing?
Music has always been a huge part of my life. I can’t really see myself doing anything else. Had I not been as successful as I was, I think I would have still found a way to be involved in the industry, whether that was writing or producing. It just doesn't seem possible to smother a passion and a desire to do what you love for a career.

Apart from Elvis is there anyone else you wish you had met?
Bill Haley played a huge part in my childhood. I remember skipping school to queue at the box office for tickets when he was playing locally. Someone 'snitched' and my friends and I got caught - we paid the price, but it was worth it. His music at the time was the most exciting party music.

Do you regret not having children?
Being completely honest, it's never bothered me. My three sisters have children, and it’s been wonderful to watch them grow up, get married and start families of their own. I’ve made sure I’ve always played a part in their lives. So while I think I would have been a good father, I’ve given myself to my family and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My 'freedom' allows me to continue my career. Had I been married and with children I wouldn't be able to do what I do now - I wouldn't want to do what I do now.

Are there any words of advice that you were given early on that have stayed relevant throughout your career?
Yes, it was wise and sensible advice from my dad that I remember to this day. ‘If you don't make it,’ he said when we were in danger of being carried away by all the initial madness, ‘there's still a life to be lived.’ That was such timely, sound ‘feet on the ground’ advice. Just a little later came his other timeless wisdom. ‘If you really want this,’ he said soon after our success with Move It, ‘then give it your all.’ I've been doing that ever since!

How big of a role does faith play in your life?
It’s very much shaped who I am today. My faith has kept me sensible and shielded me from a lot of problems that someone with my 'fame' could have encountered. Not only that, it’s having that something extra in my life that drives me to keep physically and mentally fit.

Do you think your faith has helped you avoid drugs and drink which other stars can fall victim to?
Growing up in the 50s, the world was a very different place. Drugs weren’t as commonplace as they are now, but they were still around. I just didn't know what they were and now when I think back, I realise that the smell backstage wasn't HERBAL cigarette! After 10 years in that environment, I started to think ‘Is this how I’m going to end up?’ and I certainly didn’t want anything to cut my life short. I was having a fantastic time performing. I’d have been devastated if anything had stopped me living my dream.

Do you have any vices?
Well, none that I'd tell you about! Seriously, if enjoying a glass of champagne or red wine most nights is a vice, then I must hold my hand up. Of course, Vida Nova, which is produced at my vineyard in Portugal, is my favourite, and they do say that red wine is good for your heart.

Can you ever see yourself retiring/stopping performing?
I think I’d only ever consider it if my voice was to give up on me. Performing puts a lot of pressure on the vocal chords, so if I ever thought I couldn’t give my fans the show they deserved, I’d stop singing.

You spent your early years in India, have you been back? Are you influenced by your roots to the country?
Living in India was a brilliant foundation. My sisters and I had a traditional upbringing while we were there but aside from a few schoolyard memories, I can only really remember living in England. I would say my parents’ good influence has been far more significant than where we lived.

What is your fondest memory from your career so far?
Without a doubt, receiving a knighthood for services to music and charity. At first when
I got the letter I couldn’t believe what it was saying. I think I ended up laughing for a good while out of sheer shock! But then, when I read it again, I realised it was actually happening. And what an honour. It gives me that added incentive to keep going for my fans (as I'm sure it was they who lobbied for me) which is why this summer will be a great time to get the dancing shoes back on!

In a house fire what item would you save first?
My knighthood medal comes to mind and a black and white photo of my mum and dad.

What one thing would improve your quality of life?
I’m very fortunate to have good health. I lead a very active lifestyle and I think that’s the key to being happy within yourself.

Out of all of your hits do you have a favourite? If so which one?
I don’t necessarily have a favourite as I love performing all those classic hits. It’s the reason my summer concerts will be all the good-time songs from the past six decades. If I was pushed, I’d say I’ll always have a soft spot for Summer Holiday. It’s a song that’s survived the decades and really encapsulates
a forgotten era of the classic summer holiday. It was wonderful to film, we had so much fun. But then of course there was Devil Woman and We Don't Talk Anymore not to mention Living Doll, Miss you Nights, when you have been given so many wonderful songs to sing it really is hard to pick just one!

You also had a very successful film career. If you were to appear in films again are there any directors or actors you would love to work with?
The director I would love to work with is Ridley Scott and just about any actor.

You let the then Prime Minister Tony Blair stay at your home in Barbados. Did he enjoy his stay? Who else have you let stay there?
I invited Tony to stay there out of concern for his wellbeing. He was a terrorist target at the time, so I think he enjoyed the chance to forget about things for a while and relax safely and in private. I have a lot of friends and family who visit. Cilla Black comes round for dinner. She has her own place not far away, and of course Gloria and Stephen Way/Hunniford visit. It really is a fab place to entertain.

You have some of the most loyal fans in the world who have been with you for more than 50 years. Do you have a message for them?
I never dreamed that I'd be around this long, and I have a very loyal fan base to thank for that. They have been, and still are amazingly supportive and always so generous towards the various charitable projects I'm involved with. Many of the core fans seem to have merged into a giant international family and Still Reelin' and a-Rockin' will be a great reunion!

Cliff Richard plays Hampton Court Palace Festival on Saturday 22nd June & Sunday 23rd June

Interview courtesy of