7 Little Known Facts About The Shadows – Britain’s First International Rock and Roll Band

The Shadows may well be viewed by many is Cliff Richard’s backing band but the history of popular music tells quite a different story.

Whilst, of course, their relationship with Cliff Richard is undeniable but their impact and influence on British Rock’n’Roll music in the late ’50s early ’60s before the arrival of The Beatles and The Stones cannot be underestimated. (Did you ever see them live? Let us know in the comments section below)

Jet Harris, Hank Marvin, Bruce Welch and Tony Meehan. 1960.

The Shadows have placed 69 UK charted singles from the 1950s to the 2000s, 35 credited to the Shadows and 34 to Cliff Richard and the Shadows.

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

Their influence on The Beatles can be witnessed in one of the first ever recorded Beatles tracks from 1961, the rare Lennon & Harrison composition,  ‘Cry For A Shadow’ aka Beatle Bop.


  1. The Shadows were originally called the Drifters until their worldwide fame started to attract the attention of Clyde McPhatter’s Drifters in the US and upon being threatened with legal action decided to change their name in the Six Bells pub in Ruislip, Middlesex.
  2.  ‘Move It’ The Drifters first notable hit and for many, the first true British Rock’n’Roll hit was originally a ‘B’ Side to the rather slow and teen idolesque song ‘Schoolboy Crush’.
  3.  Hank Marvin chose his name based on his childhood nickname ‘Hank’ (his real name was Brian Robson Rankin) and Marvin Rainwater the country and rockabilly singer.
  4.  Hank Marvin and Brian Welch only got the Shadows role as they happened to be playing at the 2i’s the night Cliff Richard’s manager Johnny Foster was there looking to recruit Liverpool guitarist and singer, Tony Sheridan.
  5. The classic line up of Hank Marvin (lead guitar), Bruce Welch (rhythm guitar), Jet Harris (bass) and Tony Meehan (drums) only actually lasted less than 3 years, nothing compared to the 50+ years the band have been gigging. It was this quartet that signed the EMI contract back in 1959 and recorded their first album in February 1959, recorded live before a studio audience of extremely excited fans at Abbey Road Studio No.1. The album was simply called ‘Cliff’.
  6. The Shadows walk, a three-step 60-60-60 degree triangle with a reverse right-heel, back kick accompanied by an optional can-can finale became their trademark. Bruce Welch remembers adopting it after seeing a black American band called The Treniers playing on the 1958 Jerry Lewis Tour of the UK.
  7. Cliff Richard was to buy Hank his first trademark ‘Fiesta Red’ Fender with a birdseye maple neck Stratocaster which gave Hank Marvin the ability to use the vibrato alongside his trademark Vox amps.

Spring Chicken’s Top 5 Shadows Songs;



Move It

Wonderful Land

Frightened City

Don’t forget to let us know your favourite Shadows songs or memories in the comments section below.

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