Classic Rock Wiki

The Shadows are a British instrumental rock group, and Cliff Richard's backing band, with 69 UK chart singles from the 1950s to the 2000s, 35 credited to the Shadows and 34 to Cliff Richard and the Shadows. The group, who were in the forefront of the UK beat-group boom,[1] were the first backing band to emerge as stars. As pioneers of the four-member instrumental format, the band consisted of lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar and drums. Their range covers pop, rock, surf rock andballads with a jazz influence.[2]

The core members are Hank Marvin, Bruce Welch and Brian Bennett. The sound was produced by Fender guitars, amplifiers by Vox and echo units Meazzi Echomatic tape and Binson magnetic disc. The Shadows, with Cliff Richard, dominated British popular music in the late 1950s and early 1960s in the years before the Beatles. Although they lost ground in the late sixties, the band had a second success from the late seventies.

The Shadows are the third most successful act in the UK singles chart, behind Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard.[3] The Shadows and Cliff Richard & the Shadows each have had four No.1 selling EPs.



  • 1 Overview
  • 2 History
    • 2.1 1960s
    • 2.2 1970s
    • 2.3 1980s
    • 2.4 1990s
    • 2.5 2000s
    • 2.6 2010s
  • 3 Style and image
    • 3.1 Band logo
    • 3.2 The Shadows' walk
    • 3.3 Stage names
  • 4 Legacy and influence
  • 5 Band members
    • 5.1 Current members
    • 5.2 Former members
  • 6 Concert tours/gigs
  • 7 Discography
  • 8 Members of the Shadows, MW&F and Hank Marvin solo
  • 9 References
  • 10 Further reading
  • 11 External links


The Shadows were formed from members of late 1950s UK skiffle groups: the Newcastle-based Railroaders (and also the Five Chesternuts on Columbia Records) who supplied Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch, both inspired by US pop music; and the Vipers Skiffle Group (on Parlophone Records) who supplied Jet Harris and Tony Meehan from London, both inspired by UK jazz–skiffle music. The Shadows, although originally the backing band for Richard, were later an instrumental combo, following their success with the Jerry Lordan composition, "Apache". In the US and Canada, they were briefly marketed as a surf group with two compilation albums on Atlantic Records, The Shadows Know and Surfing with the Shadows, to compete with the Ventures and the Surfaris. Although both failed to chart in America, the band had hits worldwide.[citation needed]

The group was created in 1958 out of Richard's need for permanent musicians, after the success of "Move It", which had been recorded with a his own electrified skiffle group, The Drifters, and session players. According to Norrie Paramor, their first producer, the Shadows' first studio album was dogged by clashes within the band. Harris and Meehan eventually recorded under their own names for Decca Records after first Meehan and then Harris left following clashes. Meehan was replaced by ex-Krew Kats drummer Brian Bennett, Harris by bassist Brian Locking and later by John Rostill.[citation needed]

The Shadows disbanded in 1968 but Marvin and Welch formed a vocal–guitar trio with John Farrar, as Marvin Welch & Farrar. Because of low sales and fans demanding Shadows numbers at gigs, the Shadows reformed in 1973 with Bennett as a full member and various extra musicians. The group disbanded in 1990 but reformed in 2004–05 for a UK and continental European tour[4][5][6][7]and again during 2008–10 to tour and release an album with a 50th anniversary reunion with Richard.


Formed as a backing band for Cliff Richard, The Drifters, the original members were founder Ken Pavey (born 1932), Terry Smart on drums (1942), Norman Mitham on guitar (1941), Ian Samwell on guitar and Harry Webb (before he became Cliff Richard) on guitar and vocals. They had no bass player. Samwell wrote the first hit, "Move It", often mistakenly attributed to Cliff Richard and the Shadows. Initially, Norrie Paramor wanted to record using only studio musicians but after persuasion he allowed Smart and Samwell to play as well. Two session players, guitarist Ernie Shear and bassist Frank Clark[disambiguation needed], played on the "Move It"/"Schoolboy Crush" single on Paramor's insistence to ensure a strong sound.[8] In his memoirs Welch regrets that he and Marvin could not be at the start of making history with "Move It".[9]

The Drifters signed for Jack Good's Oh Boy! television series. Paramor of EMI signed Richard, and asked Johnny Foster to recruit a better guitarist. Foster went to Soho's 2i's coffee bar, known for musical talent performing there, particularly in skiffle, in search of guitarist Tony Sheridan. Sheridan was not there but Foster's attention was caught by another musician, who played guitar well and had Buddy Holly-style glasses.[10]

Marvin had played in school skiffle with Welch. The pair had travelled from Newcastle and were surviving on little money. Foster offered Marvin the job, and he accepted on condition that Welch also join. New manager Franklin Boyd could see the pair worked well and they were employed as lead and rhythm guitarists. Samwell moved to bass until he was replaced by the Most Brothers' bass guitarist, Jet Harris. Smart left shortly afterwards and was replaced at Harris's suggestion by Tony Meehan. The Drifters' line-up now complete, they became the Shadows in early 1959 to avoid confusion with the American Drifters, the R&B vocal group. None of the original UK Drifters was in the group when they became the Shadows. Foster continued for a time as Richard's manager, and Samwell wrote additional songs for the Drifters and the Shadows before writing and producing for others. Meehan recalled that Richard, backed by Marvin, Welch, Harris and himself, had played together a year beforehand at least once at the 2i's.[citation needed]

The group started recording and performing with Richard and released two singles in their own right in 1959 ("Feelin' Fine"/"Don't Be A Fool With Love") and ("Jet Black"/"Driftin'"). The first two tracks were vocals and the second pair instrumental. Neither charted. A further vocal, "Saturday Dance"/"Lonesome Fella", also failed. The instrumental "Chinchilla" was on a four-track soundtrack EP by Cliff Richard and the Drifters calledSerious Charge in early 1959 with the film of the same name.[citation needed]

In spring the same year, the US Drifters threatened legal action after the release and immediate withdrawal of "Feelin Fine" in the US. The second single, "Jet Black", was released in the US as The Four Jets to avoid further legal aggravation but a new band name was urgent. The name the Shadows was invented by Harris (unaware of Bobby Vee's backing group) while he and Marvin were at the Six Bells pub in Ruislip in July 1959.[citation needed]


Cliff Richard and the Shadows in 1962

In 1960, "Apache", an instrumental by Jerry Lordan, topped the charts for five weeks. Further hits followed, notably "Wonderful Land", another Lordan composition with orchestral backing, at the top of the charts for eight weeks. "Kon Tiki" six months earlier had also reached number one. The Shadows played on more chart-toppers as Richard's band. This group, referred to subsequently as "the Original Shadows", had seven hits.

In October 1961 Meehan left to be a producer at Decca records. He was replaced by Brian Bennett In April 1962 Harris was replaced by Brian Locking, also known as Licorice. Bennett and Locking were friends from the 2I's who had been in Marty Wilde's backing group, the Wildcats, who recorded instrumentals as the Krew Kats. This Shadows line-up also produced seven hits, two of which, "Dance On!" and "Foot Tapper" topped the charts. The Marvin-Welch-Bennett-Locking line-up lasted 18 months. In October 1963 Locking left to spend more time as a Jehovah's Witness.

Meanwhile, Harris and Meehan teamed up at Decca as an eponymous duo to record another Lordan instrumental, "Diamonds". It rose to UK no. 1 in January 1963. Two further hits, "Scarlett O'Hara" (also by Lordan) and "Applejack", followed in the same year. On the Lordan tunes, Harris played lead using a six-stringed Fender Bass VI. During 1963 the ex-Shadows' were competing with their former bandmates.

The Shadows had met John Rostill on tour with other bands and had been impressed by his playing, so they invited him to take over. This final and longest-lasting line-up was the most innovative as they tried different guitars and developed a wider range of styles and higher musicianship. They produced albums but the chart positions of singles began to ease. The line-up had ten hits but the most successful, "The Rise and Fall of Flingel Bunt", was also the first of those ten.[citation needed]

During the 1960s the group appeared with Richard in The Young OnesSummer HolidayWonderful LifeFinders Keepers and as marionettes in the Gerry Anderson filmThunderbirds Are GO. They starred in a short B-movie called Rhythm 'n Greens which became the basis of a music book and an EP. They appeared in pantomime. Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp was in 1964 at the London Palladium with Arthur Askey as Widow Twankey, Richard as Aladdin, and the Shadows as Wishee, Washee, Noshee and Poshee. Cinderella at the Palladium in 1966 featured Richard as Buttons and the Shadows as the Broker's Men. The film and stage roles allowed the group to develop as songwriters. They wrote only a few songs for the earliest film, 1961's The Young Ones, but by Finders Keepers in 1966 almost the entire soundtrack was credited to Marvin-Welch-Bennett-Rostill. In 1967 the Shadows used Olivia Newton-John on the track "The Day I Met Marie" on their album From Hank Bruce Brian and John (SX6199/SCX6199).

The line-up split in December 1968, after the tenth anniversary album Established 1958, a mixture of tracks (7 plus 7) with Richard, and instrumentals featuring just the Shadows. All were written by the group. Welch left. This was almost the end, although an album (Shades of Rock) in 1970 and a tour of Japan in 1969 followed with Alan Hawkshaw on keyboards; in Marvin's words, they did it 'for the Yen.' The LP of the tour features a long version of "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" in which Marvin plays acoustic and electric guitar.[citation needed]


The group began 1970 by appearing on the BBC's review of the sixties music scene, Pop Go The Sixties, performing "Apache" and backing Richard on "Bachelor Boy", broadcast across Europe and BBC1, on 31 December 1969. This was followed by Marvin and a reconstituted Shadows becoming resident guests on Richard's debut TV series for the BBC, It's Cliff Richard!. During the early 1970s, Marvin and Welch had a second career as vocal group Marvin Welch & Farrar with John Farrar as third vocalist. Farrar provided a distinctive, falsetto style and skill as an arranger. They recorded two albums and several singles and, without Welch, a third album Marvin and Farrar. Live performances were hampered by audiences expecting the Shadows' greatest hits. Marvin said interviewed in Guitar Greats by John Tobler: "In the Batley Variety Club we walked off stage to the sound of our own footsteps!"

The Shadows reformed in 1973 with Welch on rhythm guitar and Farrar on guitar and vocals. Following the death of Rostill, the group booked session bassists for recordings and tours. Dave Richmond and Alan Tarney, who had provided bass for Marvin, Welch & Farrar, continued for the reformed Shadows. An album, Rockin' with Curly Leads featured Marvin using guitar fuzz effects. Some tracks used Farrar as second lead guitarist, giving a different sound from previous recordings.[citation needed]

The group were chosen by BBC Head of Light Entertainment Bill Cotton to perform the Song for Europe in the 1975 Eurovision Song Contest. The Shadows recorded six options, seen each week on a weekly television show It's Lulu, on BBC1 and hosted by Lulu, a former Eurovision winner. The group taped all six performances in the TV studio before the series itself began, with the video cut into the weekly show. For the presentation of the songs on week seven and the announcement of the result on week eight, the pre-recorded performances were run again.

Two of the songs ("No, No Nina" and "This House Runs on Sunshine") were co-written by members of the group. The public voted for "Let Me Be The One", composed by Paul Curtis, to go to the Eurovision final inStockholm. There, the group came second to the Dutch entry, Teach-In's "Ding-A-Dong". Having long stepped out of Richard's shadow, this was a rare excursion into lyrics for a band known for instrumentals (however they had cut vocal tracks on most albums, plus some singles 'B' sides, and had two charting vocal singles in the sixties). Welch sang lead and let the world know when, forgetting a couple of words, he turned to colleagues and said "I knew it" in range of his microphone. Author and historian John Kennedy O'Connor notes in The Eurovision Song Contest – The Official History that they were not a popular choice to represent the UK and the viewers' postal vote was the lowest in 'Song For Europe' history.[12] But the contest re-established the Shadows and the single climbed to 12 in the UK chart. An album of new material, including vocal and instrumental tracks Specs Appeal, coincided with their Eurovision appearance.[citation needed]

In 1976 EMI released a compilation album from 1962 to 1970: Rarities with sleeve notes by John Friesen. The first half of the album was by the Shadows and the second was from Marvin's solo career.

Following the rare vocal single 'It'll Be Me, Babe' (written and sung by Marvin & Farrar) Farrar left the band that year, amicably relocating to the USA to produce Olivia Newton-John. Among her hits, Farrar wrote 'You're The One That I Want' (covered by the Shadows in 1979) for the film 'Grease'.

The packaging of hits in Twenty Golden Greats by EMI in 1977 prompted the group to reform again for a tour featuring Francis Monkman from Sky on keyboards, leading to a number one album. Francis left after that tour and the line-up settled as Marvin, Welch and Bennett, supplemented on records and gigs by Cliff Hall (keyboards) and Alan Jones (bass).

In 1979 they their version of Cavatina became a hit and they recorded ten more tracks with Alan Jones on bass for String of Hits on EMI which topped the album charts causing EMI to moot a follow-up album akin to a 'String of Hits-volume 2' with 13 old (including a Marvin solo track), and one unreleased tracks from albums released in 1967, 1969, 1970, 1973, 1975 and 1977 of cover versions of hit singles eventually released as Another String of Hot Hits in 1980.


The Shadows Live at Abbey Road

The group performed and recorded until 1990, with most of their 1980s albums performing well in the charts. With the exception of Guardian Angel, an album almost of new material, most of 1980s albums featured little original material. The group moved in 1980 from EMI to Polydor with Change of Address (followed by Hits Right Up Your Street in 1981, Life in the Jungle in 1982). EMI would not agree to a tape leasing scheme, whereby the group would retain copyright of recordings, but the company would be licensed to publish them for individual albums. This resulted in the group re-recording much of its catalogue of 1960s EMI hits for Polydor with the 1989 album At Their Very Best. The recording used analogue equipment but was digitally mastered, with instruments, amplifiers, and arrangements close to original recordings. This has allowed the group to package and market compilation albums, featuring old hits as well as new.[citation needed]


In the 1990s all albums were reissued as CDs by EMI and Polydor.


In December 2004 the Shadows were each awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) but Marvin declined.

The Shadows 2009 Brussels

The group reformed in 2004 for a farewell tour, and recorded, "Life Story", (written by Lordan) to accompany a hits package of the same name which featured 80s re-recordings of all their 1960s and 1970s hits. This opportunity to see Marvin, Welch and Bennett, joined on keyboards by Cliff Hall and on bass by Mark Griffiths, was successful enough that they extended the tour to continental Europe in 2005. The line-up was almost the same, but Warren Bennet, son of Brian, came in on keyboards instead of Hall. On 11 December 2008, Richard and the Shadows performed at the Royal Variety Performance at the same time announcing their forthcoming 50th anniversary tour. The tour began in September 2009 with 36 shows throughout the UK and continental Europe, extending to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in 2010.


The Final Tour was put on Blu-ray format by Eagle Records in 2010.

Welch, Bennett, Mark Griffiths and Warren Bennett performed two Shadows hits at Albert Lee's 70th birthday concerts at Cadagon Hall, London, on 1 and 2 March 2014.

Style and image[edit][]

The Shadows are difficult to categorise because of their stylistic range, which includes pop, rock, surf rock, and ballads with a jazz influence. Most tunes are instrumental rock, with few vocal numbers. Their rhythmic style is primarily on the beat, with little syncopation.[2] They said in 1992 that "Apache" set the tone with its surf guitar sound.[13]

Band logo[edit][]

The Shadows and their management did not exploit commercial opportunities such as self-promotion via artwork. They allowed Vox to produce metallic badges in a script typeface, with the group name on the front bottom right corner of all three Vox cabinets sometime during the early 1960s. This badge became the "default" band logo but was never commercially exploited by the group.

The Shadows never used the logo on the front of the bass drum, preferring to allow their two Meehan and Bennett to use their names instead. Belatedly, the logo was used once on the front artwork of the 1975 original studio album, Specs Appeal. As of 2009, the logo still remains untrademarked and uncopyrighted.

In lieu of a proper band logo, four silhouettes of the original line up, in ascending order of height, were used as a pseudo-logo on concert programme covers and artwork projects such as sheet music, EP and album covers. From left to right after the drum-kit were Meehan, Harris, Marvin, Bruce Welch. The original artwork group silhouette was modified each time a member changed. The last version of the Shadows group-silhouette featured Brian Bennett and Rostill in the late 1960s. During the 1970s EMI dropped the silhouettes preferring to use three guitar necks or colour photos of the Shadows. During the later 1980s, Polydor used a red Fender Stratocaster (with white scratch plate) as a symbol.

The Shadows' walk[edit][]

In 1958 Bruce Welch went to a concert as part of the 1958 Jerry Lee Lewis tour of the UK of which he said:

The Shadows developed sequences using their bodies and guitars in tempo with the music, such as the 'walk'. It has been copied by other groups as part of their Top of the Pops performances, notably Mud, the Rubettes, Showaddywaddy and Yellow Dog. The walk is three steps within a 60-60-60-degree triangle with a reverse right-heel back-kick with optional can-can finale. This was varied throughout a gig during certain numbers, for example, "FBI".

During the 1980s, rather than play in a static posture, during an instrumental number, or using the walk, their live act was refined to include another movement. This featured Marvin, Welch and the bassist moving their guitars in time, or in sequence, with note or chord changes. Occasionally, during other instrumentals, this guitar presentation is re-engineered with Marvin and Welch acting out of sequence or alternating.

Stage names[edit][]

During the late 1950s in the UK many pop stars were expected to change to a stage name, as in the cases of Billy Fury and Adam Faith. Several members of the original Cliff Richard and the Shadows changed: Harry Webb became Cliff Richard, Brian Rankin became Hank B. Marvin, Terrence Harris became Jet Harris, and Bruce Cripps became Bruce Welch. Subsequently the names "Cliff Richard" and "Hank Brian Marvin" were confirmed by deed poll.[15][16]

Legacy and influence[edit][]

This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (July 2010)

The Shadows have been cited as a major influence on some American guitarists but also many British, Australian, Canadian and continental European guitarists, including Eric Clapton, Ritchie Blackmore, David Gilmour, Tony Iommi,[17] Mark Knopfler, Neil Young, Steve Clark, Randy Bachman and Øystein Sunde. A tribute album, Twang! A Tribute to Hank Marvin & the Shadows (Capitol 33928), in October 1996 featured Ritchie Blackmore, Tony Iommi, Peter Green, Randy Bachman, Neil Young, Mark Knopfler, Peter Frampton and others playing Shadows hits.

The Shadows influenced 1960s Yugoslav beat bands like Bijele Strijele, Crni Biseri, Crveni Koralji, Elipse, Iskre, Roboti, Siluete, Tomi Sovilj i Njegove Siluete and Zlatni Dečaci, all of whom were the pioneers of theYugoslav rock scene.[18] In the words of Crni Biseri member Vladimir Janković "Jet" (who got his nickname after Harris), "even the Beatles weren't as popular in Belgrade as the Shadows were".[18] The second episode of Rockovnik, a Serbian 2011 documentary series about the Yugoslav rock scene, deals with the appearance of the Shadows and the influence they had on Yugoslav bands.[18] Even the Swiss band Les Sauterelles is claimed to be influenced by The Shadows.

Band members[edit][]

Current members[edit][]

  • Hank Marvin – lead guitar (1958–1970, 1973–1990, 2004–2010)
  • Bruce Welch – rhythm guitar (1958–1968, 1973–1990, 2004–2010)
  • Brian Bennett – drums (1961–1968, 1973–1990, 2004–2010)
  • Mark Griffiths – bass (1989–1990, 2004–2010)
  • Warren Bennett – keyboards, percussion, harmonica, guitar (2004–2010)

Former members[edit][]

  • Jet Harris - bass (1959–1962); died 2011
  • Tony Meehan - drums (1959–1961; died 2005
  • Brian Locking - bass (1962–1963)
  • John Rostill - bass (1963–1970; died 1973
  • Alan Hawkshaw - keyboards (1969–1970)
  • John Farrar - guitar (1973–1977)
  • Alan Tarney - bass (1973-1977)
  • Cliff Hall - keyboards (1977–1990-2004)
  • Alan Jones - bass (1977–1989)