Richard was born into an Anglo-Indian family which emigrated to Hertfordshire, England when India gained independence in 1947. Having started his musical career in skiffle groups, Richard attained fame in the late 1950s as a rock and roll singer, being touted as the British Elvis Presley. His backing group was The Shadows, which went on to have a number of instrumental hits independently. Cliff Richard and the Shadows made a number of successful films, including The Young Ones and Summer Holiday, in which a group of young Londoners travel on holiday to the Mediterranean in a hired double-deck London bus.
In 1964 Richard discovered his Christian faith and for a time planned to give up entertainment to become a teacher; however, he was dissuaded by Christian friends. He continued a highly successful career, representing the United Kingdom twice in the Eurovision Song Contest. In 1968 he came second with Congratulations, and in 1973 third with Power to all our Friends. It emerged recently that the Spanish dictator General Franco authorised a programme of bribery of national juries to ensure that the Spanish entrant won the 1968 competition.
Richard had number one hits in every decade from the 1950s to the 1990s. He was knighted in 1995. In 1999, he had a hit with his Millennium Prayer, the Lord's Prayer set the to the tune of Auld Lang Syne.