When The Shadows represented the UK at Eurovision without Cliff Richard
12 May 2023, 12:30
The Secret History of Eurovision – documentary trailer
Everyone remembers Sir Cliff at Eurovision, but what about his former backing band?
Listen to this article
Sir Cliff Richard has a strong Eurovision history of course. Along with Ronnie Carroll, he's one of just two acts who have represented the UK more than once.
Cliff fell just short of the top spot on home turf in 1968 with 'Congratulations' in 1968 (though was he robbed by a Spanish dictator?), and also earned a respectable third place in 1973 in Luxembourg with 'Power to All Our Friends.
- When The Shadows let Cliff Richard play lead guitar on a storming version of 'Apache'
- Did Spanish dictator General Franco really cheat Cliff Richard out of Eurovision glory in 1968?
- Listen to the Gold 60s Live Playlist on Global Player
What doesn't get quite as much attention in the British Story of Eurovision is when Cliff Richard's former backing band The Shadows repped the UK.
The group hadn't backed Sir Cliff on his two Eurovision attempts, though John Farrar, a member of The Shadows between 1973 and 1975, did actually help Richard out with backing vocals on his second and final attempt in '73.
Two years later in 1975, The Shadows were ninth in the running order with their song 'Let Me Be The One'.
LET ME BE THE ONE – THE SHADOWS (United Kingdom 1975 - Eurovision Song Contest HD)
So how did The Shadows end up representing the UK? Well, BBC Head of Light Entertainment Bill Cotton tapped them up to perform the Song for Europe.
They accepted and recorded six songs in one session for the TV show It's Lulu, with the performances being aired one per week.
Among the half-dozen were the songs 'No, No Nina' and 'This House Runs on Sunshine' that members of the band themselves had co-written, but it was the Paul Curtis-penned 'Let Me Be The One' that got the nod in a public vote.
The Shadows • Let Me Be The One • Lulu 1975
Just like their former frontman's pair of attempts, The Shadows scaled the heights of the Eurovision leaderboard with their effort.
But, just like Sir Cliff, they fell agonisingly short.
'Let Me Be the One' ended up in second place with 138 points. Only three acts broke the 100 point barrier that year, and The Shadows were runners-up to the Netherlands.
DING-A-DONG - TEACH-IN (The Netherlands 1975 - Eurovision Song Contest HD)
The Dutch were represented by Teach-In with the most Eurovision of all song titles 'Ding-a-dong'.
So, there was no Cliff in The Shadows in 1975, so who is that up on stage playing 'Let Me Be The One' for its live performance?
The core members were present and correct, Bruce Welch doing lead vocals and playing bass and Hank Marvin playing lead guitar and backing vocals. Brian Bennett is there on drums.
Alan Tarney is on piano, while John Farrar is on guitar and vocals.
As we noted earlier, John did backing vocals on Sir Cliff's 'Power to All Our Friends', and he also did the same and produced Olivia Newton-John's 'Long Live Love', which came joint fourth – so he was part of the UK Eurovision contingent for three years in a row.
In the studio things got mixed around, with Welch going on guitar, Alan playing bass, John Farrar switching to piano, and John Fiddy adding a string arrangement.
Despite missing out on top spot, the song is still something of a banger, and that studio version went all the way to number 12 in the UK singles charts, one of the band's 60 charting singles.