Cliff Richard details Elvis Presley 'obsession' as singer shares extreme measures to mimic star

Cliff Richard details Elvis Presley 'obsession' as singer shares extreme measures to mimic star

WATCH NOW: Cliff Richard says 'artificial insemination' in BBC interview blunder

Alex Davies

By Alex Davies

Published: 31/10/2023

- 15:27

Updated: 01/11/2023

- 14:55

The 83-year-old singer has opened up about his life in his latest memoir, A Head Full of Music

Sir Cliff Richard's "obsession" with singer Elvis Presley was so strong that the Congratulations singer went as far as to alter his entire lifestyle to be like him, the singer has revealed.

Richard, who has opened up about his encounters with influential musicians throughout his life in his new memoir, candidly recalled the first time he heard one of Presley's tracks and the profound impact it had on the rest of his life.

One Saturday in May 1956, Richard recalled in A Head Full of Music how he and two pals passed "a green Citroën" parked up with the music blaring.

The single just happened to be Presley's Heartbreak Hotel and Richard - who would've been 12 at the time - and his friends spent the next few days desperately trying to find out more about the voice they'd heard on the car radio.

When they discussed Presley's name in the school corridors, Richard recalled how his music "excited me" thanks to "the rhythms of the music, the beats, the feel, the attitude".

"Immediately, he obsessed me," Richard wrote in his new memoir. "I started trying to find out everything about Elvis that I could.

A young Cliff Richard

A young Cliff Richard pictured in 1958 channeling Elvis' style


"When I first saw a photograph of him, I couldn’t believe how cool he looked – that quiff! That curled lip! And when I realised that he had an album out already, I absolutely had to have it."

In order to raise the funds to fuel his Presley obsession and buy the Hound Dog singer's record, Richard "got a holiday job picking potatoes on a local farm".

He recalled: "There I was, all day long, bent double and yanking spuds out of the dirt for a shilling an hour. The boredom and backache were all worth it when I had saved up the cash and was back down Marsden’s to buy Elvis Presley."

Presley's impact on popular culture spread far and wide and Richard admitted he wasn't the only member of his family who harboured a newfound obsession for the King of Rock 'N' Roll.

His older sister Donna "adored" Presley and when Richard accompanied her to the cinema to watch the icon in the film Love Me Tender, she burst into tears.

Desperate to channel Presley and satiate his obsession, Richard "set off on a determined one-man mission to make myself look as identical to him as was humanly possible".

Richard started with the quiff which would take him hours to style with the help of Brylcreem, although he conceded he could never master the "few strands that broke loose and hung over his [Presley's] forehead".

And the extreme lengths kept on coming as Richard penned: "My love for Elvis even influenced my diet. When I read in Girlfriend magazine that he liked putting peanut butter and jam (or 'jelly', as the Americans call it) on his toast, I started eating mine like that too.

Cliff Richard

Cliff Richard has released a new memoir


"It was an acquired taste, but I managed to acquire it. This is how Elvis eats it! I told myself. It MUST taste great," he wrote.

Richard recalled how he'd fondly be compared to Presley when he first broke through into the spotlight as a young singer before he was able to break from the mould and cement himself as a singer in his own right.

But Presley's impact on Richard is clearly as strong as ever seven decades on as Richard penned: "I still feel like I owe him everything, though.

"I have many mornings when I wake up in Barbados, get up, gaze out of my bedroom window at the Caribbean, and wonder: how the hell did I get from Cheshunt to here? And the answer is Elvis Presley."

You may like