Sir Cliff Richard rivalry unmasked: Singer’s snub over Elvis Presley weight exposed

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The Millennium Prayer singer was due to celebrate his 80th birthday last month with a nationwide tour until it was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead fans have relished reading details from his new book, Cliff Richard: The Dreamer. Some revelations have included the details of his tombstone, his snub from Coronation Street, secret relationships and rivalry with Elvis. In one extract, Sir Cliff delivered a blunt blow at The King over his weight. 

Sir Cliff explained that during his rise to fame in the Sixties, fans were often split between himself and Elvis – many preferred the Hound Dog crooner.

He felt their rivalry could have played a part in him never being able to break the US and had “no luck” on numerous “jinxed” tours.

During one, he recalled performing to an audience of 200 people, one-fifth of the theatre’s capacity, because it was during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Sir Cliff hoped he would become a big name after a performance on The Ed Sullivan Show – which gave The Beatles their international break two years later in 1962 – but had no luck. 

Despite being in competition with Elvis, he was a lifelong fan and attributed him as his muse – someone who helped him morph out of being “plain old Harry Webb”.

But whenever the star was in Memphis, Tennessee, where The King lived, he was “not in town at the time” and “never home” when he called.

In one such incident, his manager Peter Gormley arranged for the singer’s father Vernon to give him a tour of Graceland, his estate. 

There he saw his muse’s bed, guitars and a “lavish hearth rug with Elvis’ face on it” – and on another trip went to one of his favourite places to eat. 

The King reportedly went to the local restaurant “all the time” and inside he was allowed to eat where his “hero normally sat” in the “exact same corner seat”.

Sir Cliff recalled: “What does Elvis usually eat?’ I asked him. ‘He always orders frogs’ legs,’ he told me. ‘Shall I get you half a dozen?’ 

“I pictured the dainty little nibbles that I had occasionally had when I had been in Paris. ‘No, let’s get a dozen,’ I suggested.”

He noticed that “the waiter looked surprised” but took the order and when he brought out their feast he soon understood why.

Sir Cliff said: “They were absolutely massive! They must have very different frogs in Tennessee to Paris, because these legs were like turkey drumsticks. 

“I only managed to eat two, David ate three and we had to send the rest back.” 

Then in a snub to his idol, who filled a larger form in his later life, Sir Cliff remarked: “I can certainly see why Elvis had weight problems!”

The comment followed an insult Sir Cliff endured after he finished a previous US tour, where he was dubbed “a lovely, chubby lad”  on Coronation Street in 1962.

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He “was horrified” by the remark about his weight and it spurred him to go on a diet that left him with a 30-inch waist – the size he maintains today.

The words seemed to stick with the star, who regularly referenced the incident throughout his book and spoke out about his diet tips.

He claimed to be in “rude health” more recently due to playing tennis three times a week, going to the gym and avoiding certain types of food. 

Sir Cliff relished being “basically the same weight” that he was in 1962 and wrote a final reference to his own weight snub.

He added: “A lot slimmer than I was when Minnie Caldwell on Coronation Street declared her love for ‘that chubby Cliff Richard’!”

Cliff Richard: The Dreamer was published by Ebury Press in October and is available to purchase here.

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