Page last updated at 14:14 GMT, Monday, 12 October 2009 15:14 UK
Clifford T Ward - songs not fame
Clifford T Ward
His songs were performed by Art Garfunkel and Ringo Starr

Clifford T Ward is one of those rare figures in the music business - a real talent who resolutely did things his way.

He had one big hit - the single Gaye - and after that produced music that was admired, but not commercially successful.

John Peel was a huge fan, and signed him to his short-lived Dandelion record label.

Clifford T Ward died in 2001 aged 57 after a long illness.

On the face of it you could say it was his reluctance to play the pop star - no tours, very few interviews and public appearances - that cost him the chance to become a big star.

CLIFFORD T WARD
Clifford T Ward died in 2001 aged 57 after a long illness.
He had suffered from multiple sclerosis, and died from pneumonia.
His songs had been recorded by performers such as Art Garfunkel and Ringo Starr.
He had only had two chart singles - the biggest hit Gaye reached number eight in the charts.
He finished above the Beatles in a poll on the best music of the Queen's reign - the Radio 2 poll saw Ward's Home Thoughts From Abroad come 4th, despite failing to get into the charts as a single.

Terry Wogan has been quoted as saying that Ward's second album, Home Thoughts From Abroad, is his favourite.

The title track from that album was also one of the surprise entries in a Radio 2 poll of the most popular British songs of the last 50 years

No tours

Clive Selwood was Cifford T Ward's manager, and has no doubt that the decision not to tour was crucial:

"Clifford should have been a major, major star - he had hits, but he simply wouldn't perform publicly."

"It was because of a lack of self confidence - he just didn't think he was good enough to perform publicly, and even to get him to do Top Of The Pops was a painful experience for him.

Clifford T Ward and Clive Selwood
Clifford, with his manager Clive Selwood

"They wanted to send him to America to record and to be produced by an American.

"So we thought it's worth a try, it might move things along. I got the phone call from Cliff saying I must come and visit him up in Worcester - immediately.

So I dropped everything, and I drove two or three hundred miles to Cliff's fairly remote and grand house at the time.

"He said 'Tell Phonogram instead of spending money sending me to America, tell them to buy this house for me', and he produced a brochure of this house he fancied."

"Clifford then undertook on paper, if Phonogram would buy him that house, he would guarantee to write eight brand new songs within x number of weeks - but of course he didn't do it."

Early days

His musical career started in the early years of rock'n'roll, as part of Cliff Ward and The Cruisers.

The band was popular in Birmingham and also toured American Army bases in France - the inspiration for Home Thoughts From Abroad.

Cliff Ward and The Cruisers
Cliff Ward and The Cruisers in '60s

The group changed their name to Martin Raynor and the Secrets and made their recording debut for EMI Records in 1965, before recording several more tracks as the Secrets for CBS Records.

In 1967, Ward enrolled at Worcester teacher training college to study English and divinity, after which he taught at Bromsgrove High School.

His debut album appeared on disc jockey John Peel's brave-but-doomed Dandelion Records label in 1972.

His second album and his first release for Charisma Records, Home Thoughts, proved to be his finest work and gave him wider recognition. Ward constructed each song as a complete story, sometimes with great success.

The beautiful "Gaye" became a UK Top 10 hit but surprisingly the stronger "Home Thoughts From Abroad" and the infectious and lyrically excellent "Wherewithal" failed to chart.

Mantle Pieces and Escalator contained a similar recipe of more harmless tales like the minor hit "Scullery" with affecting lyrics like, "You're my picture by Picasso, you'd brighten up any gallery."

Despite the onset of MS, Clifford T Ward continued to produce music, and his songs were covered by artists including Cliff Richard, Jack Jones, Art Garfunkel, Justin Hayward, and Judy Collins.

He died in December 2001 - he left a widow Pat and two sons.




SEE ALSO
Little-known singer beats Beatles
01 Jun 02 |  Music
Songwriter Clifford T Ward dies
19 Dec 01 |  England


BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific