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Sir Cliff Richard

Our most successful year as a vocal trio was probably, 1985. We'd been asked by Elton John to do 'Live Aid' with him and George Michael in July. John and Stu decided not to do it, as we were on a 'gospel' tour at the time, (probably thought they'd get a black mark in Gods little book). I knew that this was going to be the biggest gig ever and that Cliff wouldn't be touring at all in 1986, while he worked on a West End musical 'Time'. I asked Cliff if I could do it and he said yes! Singing with Elton and George Michael at Live Aid was memorable, particularly as it was seen by one and a half billion people around the world. Funny enough Cliff did appear on a late night TV interview for 'Live Aid'. Also that year we had a couple of tours with Cliff, maybe even three, we'd done a tour with Shakin' Stevens and in December reached number one with 'Merry Xmas Everyone' with Shaky! Not a bad year, then we got the 'DCM'!! (Don't Come Monday). Not that it was that much of a shock, knowing that Cliff was in the musical for the next year, it was pretty obvious that things were coming to an end. What a band Cliff had at that time! I don't think the powers that be ever truly appreciated what they had.

Live Aid Programme
Our last gig with Cliff was December 16th 1985, at the N.E.C. in Birmingham. This picture's taken in the dressing room after the show, all the band were either in tears or at least misty eyed. The problem I had with it was, I'd been asked by Elton John's manager John Reid, during the rehearsals for the gig with Elton, if we were available for a World tour with him starting in the Autumn. I stayed loyal to Cliff, because we had a UK tour scheduled for that time, ended up missing out on a World Tour with Elton and never got the chance again, then the 'DCM'! It's a cruel world! Still, it was nice to know an 'icon' like Elton recognised our ability. Life is full of decisions, some you get right, and some....!!!!

Three other members of Cliffs' band, the late great Graham Jarvis, Martin Jenner and Mark Griffiths, had lost out too. They had backed the Everly Brothers at The Royal Albert Hall on the legendary 'reunion concert'. They were also offered a tour of the world with the 'Ev's' and turned it down out of loyalty to Cliff. Not that Graham Jarvis could have made the Everly Bros tour. He died a few days after the Cliff UK tour 1985, in Kings College Hospital, London. A great drummer, and what a sense of humour! Sadly missed. Some of the band (or maybe just the singers, I can't remember) were involved in a 'live' TV show in 1986 (Aspel and Friends), but then came the call the band had dreaded. Stu Calver's health had never been very good, so he decided to take early retirement down to the peace and quiet of Devon in 1986, (he was already living there), where he was involved in the local church (Cliff's influence?). John Perry also found God whilst we were on a visit to South Africa (what a pass that was!!) and went on touring the world, 'saving souls'. Funny they never got me! John and I didn't work together again 'til I was working on a version of 'Good Vibrations' (EM Records/Japan, Tony Rivers 'Harmony Works' Vol.1) for a show I was involved with in Frankfurt in 1992. I was doing the vocals with Anthony (my son), singing the Carl Wilson parts in the verse. I sang the Mike Love chorus part, and I thought, it would be nice to have John Perry singing on it. Then I got Graham Dene (the radio D.J.) to sing a few bits, as he'd always wanted to sing on a session with me, so he got his chance, and did very well! In 1989 I went to see Cliff at Ceasars Palace in Luton (God knows why he was playing there).

I only intended to go backstage to see the band, but David Bryce saw me and hi-jacked me into Cliff's dressing room. Well I was soon being told about the gig they were planning at Wembley Stadium for July of that year 'The Event'. Somehow, I was asked if I'd like to be involved, I said yes, and ended up putting together a 17 piece 'rocking' band , which included one ex Castaway, Tom Marshall, on 2nd keyboard, with Anthony, Mick and me on backing vocals, Terry Williams from Dire Straits on drums, and several members of Shakin' Stevens band. We were to be the 'Oh Boy Band', based on the old TV show, and included appearances by the Dallas Boys, the Vernons Girls, the Kalin Twins, and of course Cliff! I was on tour at the time with Shaky, and Cliff asked me to ask Shaky if he'd like to do a duet with him on the Wembley show,something like, 'Tutti Frutti'. I passed on the message to Shaky and his then manager, she told me to "Tell them to '**** ***'!!!! They only want Shaky on the show 'cos they can't sell the tickets"!!! I wasn't given the chance to explain that the Friday show was already sold out, and the second night, the Saturday, was selling well, and of course sold out too! We had 5 or 6 weeks rehearsal and two great sunny days at Wembley Stadium. I think I enjoyed it more than 'Live Aid'. Cliff said after the shows, the police had told him that the only 'crowd trouble', was people overfeeding the police horses!! Before the covers were laid over the pitch, Anthony and I went onto the turf and re-enacted Trevor Brooking's winning goal (the header) against Arsenal in the 1980 Cup Final. I'd always wanted to play at Wembley, pity we didn't have a ball! C'mon you Irons!


Photographs copyright Tony Rivers

Backstage pass 'The Event' 1989