Cliff Richard pays tribute to late lifelong friend Olivia Newton-John with new version of 'Suddenly'
29 August 2023, 16:34
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It's been just over a year since Olivia Newton-John died.
And the impact of the Australian pop icon's untimely death is still being felt within the music world - by her friends, her fans, and of course her family.
On 8th August 2022, Olivia Newton-John lost her lengthy battle with breast cancer at the age of 73.
After her passing, those closest to her and her music paid tribute to the impact she made on their lives.
The likes of lifelong friends and collaborators in Grease co-star John Travolta, the Bee Gees' Barry Gibb, Paul Anka, Elton John, Dolly Parton, and more made it known how dearly they cared about the fallen star.
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One particular friend who had known Olivia for over fifty years was British pop legend Cliff Richard, who revealed how deeply affected he was by her death.
At the time he said in a statement on his Facebook profile: "I find myself at a loss as to what to say."
"From now on I will only believe that our gorgeous Olivia simply stopped living. I will miss her. The world will miss her, so let’s all keep her alive in our hearts and memories."
And Cliff has kept his promise to keep Olivia's memory alive by paying tribute to her on his forthcoming album.
Cliff has recently announced a new album called Cliff With Strings - My Kinda Life, which will see the legendary pop star offer up orchestral re-workings of his greatest hits.
Set for release on 3rd November 2023, Cliff also revealed that the album will feature an orchestral rendition of his and Olivia's hit duet 'Suddenly'.
Talking about the process of re-recording his classic song in order to pay tribute to Olivia, said said it became an "emotional" experience re-living her memory through the song.
"It is really an emotional journey to listen back to some of my original vocals and hear just how young I was and how my style changed over the years," Cliff explained.
"These tracks mean a lot to me and they are so refreshed with the orchestral arrangements. The most emotional track on the album for me is 'Suddenly' with my dear friend Olivia Newton-John."
Olivia Newton-John & Cliff Richard - Suddenly (HD Ver.) [Hollywood Nights]
"We recorded this version together live for my 75th birthday in 2015 and it always strikes me how well our voices sounded together and the crystal gentility that Olivia always managed to exude."
"I'm glad I was able to highlight this great performance again," Cliff concluded, revisiting a song that evidently meant so much to him.
'Suddenly' originally appeared on the soundtrack to 1980 musical fantasy Xanadu, but rather than use the vocals from the original recordings, the new version has re-worked a more meaningful performance.
The vocals will be lifted from the duo's final duet together at London's Royal Albert Hall which took place in 2015.
The new arrangement led by producer Chris Walden says it will highlight "an emotional beauty" to Cliff and Olivia's voices singing together in harmony on his landmark birthday.
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Cliff first met Olivia back in 1971 when she appeared as a regular guest singer on his own TV variety show.
Recalling their first meeting, Richard said: "We hit it off straightaway. She was the sort of soulmate that you meet and you know is a friend for life."
Olivia would also go on tour with Cliff as one of his backing singers, and at one point was even engaged to Bruce Welch, his bandmate in The Shadows at the time.
"When I and many of us were in love with Olivia she was engaged to someone else. I’m afraid I lost the chance," he said years later when asked if he and Olivia were ever romantic. Turns out no, but they became lifelong friends.