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The Shadows

The most successful, influential, and prolific English guitar group. Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch met in Newcastle and formed a skiffle group called The Railroaders in 1957. They moved to London, teams with vocalist Peter Chester as The Chesternuts, and cut a single for Columbia. Cliff Richard's manager discovered Marvin playing guitar in a coffee bar and offered him an audition for Richard's backing band, The Drifters. Marvin accepted, on the condition that Welch come along as rhythm guitarist.

Richard's first single, "Move It," was a hit, the group began touring England, and he began being touted as England's answer to Elvis. The Drifters changed their name to The Shadows to avoid confusion with the black R&B vocal group. The first Shadows line-up was completed with the addition of Jet Harris on bas and Tony Meehan on drums, and in 1959, they cut their first single as an instrumental group.

Composer Jerry Lordan pitched the group his song, "Apache," and the tune shot to the top of the charts, spending over 20 weeks in the UK top 40. Danish guitarist Jorgen Ingmann's cover was released first in the US and captured the US audience. Columbia never attempted to push The Shadows in the US market after that. The Shadows continued to work as Richard's band while still recording on their own until 1961. They appeared with Richard in the 1960 British version of a beach movie, "Summer Holiday."

Tony Meehan quit in 1961 and was replaced by Brian Bennett. Jet Harris, who contributed the group's distinctive bass line, left about six months after Meehan and was replaced by Brian Locking and later, John Rostill. This line-up remained until the group broke up in the late 1960s. During their heyday, the Shadows placed over 25 singles on the U.K. top 40 charts, and had several hits, including "The Third Man Theme," when Hank Marvin revived the group in the late 1970s. They also were the only group or artist to hold the #1 spot in the LP, EP, and singles charts simultaneously. If you count the 33 hits they had backing (now Sir) Cliff Richard, they had more U.K. hits than the Beatles.

The Shadows have a melodious and moody sound, with much wider range of stylings than the Ventures. They were a tremendous influence on a whole generation of European guitar bands, including the Spotnicks, the Sounds, the Quiets, and even, more recently, Laika and the Cosmonauts.

For more information, check out the Cliff Richards/Shadows page at http://www.konnections.com/patirons/index.html.


  • The Shadows
  • Out of the Shadows
  • The Shadows' Greatest Hits
  • Dance with the Shadows
  • Sound of the Shadows
  • More Hits
  • Shadow Music
  • Jigsaw
  • From Hank, Bruce, Brian, & John
  • Rarities
  • String of Hits
  • Another String of Hits
  • Hits Right Up Your Street
  • Moonlight Shadows
  • Simply Shadows
  • Steppin' to the Shadows
  • Reflection

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