Cliff Richard’s blunder over Pharrell Williams exposed: ‘Oops! but my point stands!’

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The legendary singer, who celebrated his 80th birthday last month, topped another landmark last week after he released his new album Music… The Air That I Breathe. It placed at number three, which made him the only artist to reach the Top 5 in the UK albums chart over eight consecutive decades. Sir Cliff, who was due to go on tour prior to the coronavirus pandemic, revealed he had no plans to rest on his impressive back catalogue, in his new book The Dreamer. The star spoke about possible future collaborations and among that list was US singer Pharrell Williams.

Sir Cliff previously stated “the word ‘retire’ is not in my vocabulary” and admitted that even when the idea crossed his mind the promise of a new tour reignited his passion for music.

In 2013, he told BBC Radio 4 that he was “still fighting fit” and wouldn’t consider leaving show business unless his “vocal cords gave up” or if “audiences didn’t show up”.

Seven years on and the singer remained adamant that he was “looking forward” rather than dwelling on the past in Cliff Richard: The Dreamer, which was released last month.

He revealed that he would “love to do more duets” and has made plans for an album with Elaine Paige and Tony Rivers, who he dubbed “the king of harmonies”.

Not only that but the Summer Holiday crooner, whose first song Move It was released in 1958, set his eyes on collaborating with contemporary artists too.

Sir Cliff recounted “a funny story” from a few years ago, when he first heard “an amazing singer on the radio” and spoke enthusiastically about them to a friend.

He recalled: “‘Wow, listen to her!’ I said. ‘What a voice! I’d love to sing with her!’ The friend I was with stared at me, slightly pityingly.

“‘Cliff, that’s not a woman!’ he said. ‘It’s Pharrell Williams!’”

Despite his confusion, he complimented the star – who performed on Robin Thicke’s controversial 2013 track Blurred Lines and released Happy, which topped the charts in 23 countries. 

Sir Cliff said: “Oops! But my point stands – he has a wonderful voice and I’d love the opportunity to work with him.”

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The Mistletoe and Wine singer had also tried to collaborate with Shania Twain, known as the ‘Queen of Country Pop’, “twice” without any joy. 

He explained that she “has a tremendous voice” and remained hopeful for a future duet with the Man! I Feel Like a Woman! singer.

Sir Cliff said: “The first time, she had a throat infection, and the second time, she was on tour. Well I’m going to keep trying, and ask her again. I’m persistent like that!”

He admitted that the singer he would “like to perform with more than anybody else in the history of music” was Elvis Presley.

‘The King’ had inspired him during his early years and without him, he likely would have “remained plain, old Harry Webb” – the star’s name.

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Sir Cliff never met his idol, whose estate Graceland is visited by half a million people every year, because the singer was either “not in town” or “never home” when he called.

He admitted that he dreamed of being able to record an album of Elvis’ tracks – but claimed Sony Music would “never let me do it”.

Despite his disappointment, Sir Cliff was flattered when the late star’s ex-wife Priscilla Presley told him he was considered a “main rival” and that Elvis “certainly knew all about” him.

He said: “Knowing that Elvis took note of me and even viewed me as his competition, makes my day; my month; my year. No: In a funny way, it makes my life.”

Cliff Richard: The Dreamer was published last month by Ebury Press and is available here. 

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