|Cliff Richard in his younger days
London, April 10: The contents of a letter written by Cliff Richard to Delia Wicks, his first serious girlfriend, have just been published, providing an early indication that the pop singer would for ever remain a bachelor boy.
The letter was written in October 1961 when Cliff, who would become the best selling UK singles artist of all time with total record sales exceeding 21 million, was written when he was a 21-year-old on tour in Australia
Over the years Cliff, who will be 70 this year, has tired of answering deeply personal questions about his sexuality but part of the interest has stemmed from the longevity of his remarkable career which has endured for more than half a century. He is a devout Christian, never been involved in the sex and drugs culture than has destroyed many of his contemporaries and gives generously to several charities. He also seems to be repairing his connections to India, his country of origin, after a visit.
Cliff Richard – or Sir Cliff Richard as he has been since the Queen knighted him in 1995 – is not his real name. He was born Harry Rodger Webb in Lucknow, United Provinces, in British India, on October 14, 1940 to Anglo-Indian parents Rodger Oscar Webb, a railway catering manager, and Dorothy Marie Webb (ée Dazely).
After independence, the family moved to England in 1948 from their flat in Howrah. In his early days at his English school, Harry was teased about his dark complexion.
When Delia Wick first met Cliff in 1960, she must have thought she was his living doll. The blonde dancer was barely out of her teens and fell instantly for his smouldering Anglo-Indian looks. But after 18 months of dating, when she must have suggested to him that we dont talk anymore, Cliff wrote to her that she must stop dreaming for he was intent on travellin light.
Frankly, he did not want her in his shadows anymore as he was enjoying life too much on tour as part of the young ones. Perhaps she spotted all was not well when the boyfriend, with whom she had kissed and cuddled in their stolen moments, even misspelt Delia as Dellia.
Maybe his managers and promoters, making a fortune out of Cliff, ordered the singer to move it.
Dear Dellia, began the letter written on written on blue Australian airmail paper, I know I havent written for a long time but Ive been so confused in my mind about you and about myself. Ive just had to make, probably, one of the biggest decisions Im ever going to make and Im hoping that it wont hurt you too much.
He went on: Being a pop singer I have to give up one priceless thing – the right to any lasting relationship with any special girl.
Cliff certainly showed ambition: I have showbiz in my blood now and I would be lost without it.
The singer urged her to find someone who is free to love you as you deserve to be loved and who is able to marry you.
He was also clearly Indian for her rolled out his widowed mother as a lame excuse.
I couldnt give up my career, besides the fact that my mother and sisters, since my fathers death, rely on me completely, he wrote.
Delia had probably urged Cliff that we should be together as she was the girl in your arms.
But Cliff ended her with the concluding line: D, all I can say now is goodbye and dont think too badly of me. Love, Cliff.
Years later, in his autobiography Cliff came clean by admitting he had dumped her because life for him had become one long summer holiday.
Delia was wonderful and we spent a lot of time together, but then I woke up one day and the feeling had gone – as simple as that, he disclosed. So I ended our relationship.
Their romance, he added, was never going to go anywhere. I was on tour and I told myself it was kinder to let her know immediately than to let her live with false hope – but it was the easy way out.
Congratulations and celebrations were due to Delia, happily, when she married company director John Pyle in 1970 but the couple later divorced. For a while, Delia starred in the Black and White Minstrel Show on television and later, after she retired from dancing, worked in a shoe shop in Warwickshire.
Cliffs letter was made public by her brother Graham Wicks, 65, following her death from cancer, aged 71, last weekend.
After being informed of her death Cliff said that his letter was not a final farewell. They met briefly at a function in the 70s and posed for a photograph with her.
Theirs had been an innocent relationship, Delia once said in an interview.
She recalled how Cliff used to turn up at her flat early in the morning after finishing on stage at venues around the country. After driving through the night he would arrive rough and unshaven. Hed kick off his shoes and make us breakfast. We would cuddle up and go to sleep together but we never took our clothes off.
In heartbreak, she found out, many a tear has to fall but its all in the game