Why Didn't The Shadows Invade?

Performing and Interpreting Shadows' Music

Why Didn't The Shadows Invade?

Postby (admin) » Tue Jan 22, 2008 10:28 am

The Shadows were certainly a part of the British Invasion and one would have thought that their association with Cliff Richard would have made them a household word in North America. But fame in the United States was not to be.

So why didn't The Shadows invade with the same success of other British groups? The Ventures did quite well during this time so instrumental music was accepted in North America. Was the Shadows' absence from the US market all about a lack of promotion? Did they peak too soon? Were they overshadowed by the Beatles? Were they too bland in comparision?
Life, as with music, often requires one to let go of the melody and listen to the rhythm

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Re: Why Didn't The Shadows Invade?

Postby (royclough) » Wed Jan 23, 2008 2:37 pm

Early Shadows track in US were released under the name The Four Jets for some reason, this may have had something to do with fact Booby Vee's brother already had a band called he Shadows and of course The Shadows had already had to change their name from The Drifters due to the American Drifters.

I don't think in my view instrumentals were that popular in US, odd one's yes but even The Ventures only had 6 top 40 entries.

The British Invasion as such was really the Beat groups of the mid 60's and I suppose they did not fit the image at the time.

They were always conservative to some degree in their stage presence.
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Re: Why Didn't The Shadows Invade?

Postby (winston) » Wed Jan 23, 2008 3:09 pm

When I was young and did not really know any better, I always viewed The Shadows as being the back-up band to Cliff Richard. Even when The Shadows released their singles that perception stuck, for me at least. I thought that it was great that they were trying to carve an identity of their own but to me there was nothing like the magic that was weaved when the entire unit played together.

Cliff bombed in the USA. Perhaps that's also why the Shadows little or no success.
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Re: Why Didn't The Shadows Invade?

Postby (paologregorio) » Wed Jan 23, 2008 3:27 pm

I heard an interview with Cliff Richard on a local show hosted by Sex Pistol Steve Jones awhile back, and Cliff said he rather likes the fact that he can walk around in NYC and people don't recognize him becasue he never made it big here. The only time he was really recognized was when he was walking down the street on hooliday in NYC and the Bee Gees pulled up in a limo, pleasantly shocked to see Cliff just walking about on the streets of NYC.
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Re: Why Didn't The Shadows Invade?

Postby (admin) » Thu Jan 24, 2008 11:56 am

Roy: Your challenge to the comment that instrumentals may not have been that successful is an interesting one. While I confess to not knowing the whether each of the following was a hit in North America, I do remember either noticing or being impressed by the following instrumentals which I heard over the airwaves. It is not meant to be complete but simply a list of artists that were familiar to me.

1. Cherry Pink & Apple Blossom White - Perez Prado
2. Telstar - Tornados
3. Happy Organ - Dave 'Baby' Cortez
4. Red River Rock - Johnny & The Hurricanes
5. Raunchy - Ernie Freeman
6. Forty Miles Of Bad Road - Duane Eddy
7. Let There Be Drums - Sandy Nelson
8. Walk, Don't Run - The Ventures
9. Tequila - The Champs
10. Nut Rocker - B. Bumble & The Stingers
11. (Ghost) Riders In The Sky - Ramrods
12. Music To Watch Girls By - Bob Crewe Generation
13. Yakety Sax - Boots Randolph
14. Last Date - Floyd Cramer
15. Swingin' Sheperd Blues - Moe Koffman Quartet
16. Sleepwalk - Santo & Johnny
17 Stranger On The Shore - Acker Bilk
18. Take Five - Dave Brubeck Quartet
19. Cast Your Fate To The Wind - Sounds Orchestral
20. Pipeline - Chantays

It seems to me that instrumental artists were seldom on Ed Sullivan in those days, at least in my memory, and as such may not of had the exposure required to make them a familiar name.

Perhaps instrumentals only became popular if they were very unique or associated with movies of televison shows of the era. Examples of this might be Ballad of Paladin, Theme from Bonanza and the list of instrumentals from Westerns.

Perhaps the style of instrumental offered by the Shadows did not fit in with the more orchestral arrangments or guitar picking tunes that had become common fare in the United States. Whatever the reason, we missed out in North America as far as The Shadows were concerned. I may have underestimated the importance of promotion and the power of record companies in making a hit.
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Re: Why Didn't The Shadows Invade?

Postby (tamborineman) » Thu Jan 24, 2008 1:11 pm

Peter, no promotion....
who in the heck did the theme from Bonanza ? as kids, me and my guitar playing buddies all played that lick.

Please tell me it wasn't Henry Mancini with some unknown studio guitarist. :?
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Re: Why Didn't The Shadows Invade?

Postby (royclough) » Thu Jan 24, 2008 1:54 pm

It was Al Caiola made number 19 on US chart in May 61.

Whilst I accept there were a number of instrumental hits I should have clarified that most were one off hits, with exception of Dunae Eddy,though The Shadows did not manage that.
Tornados never had another top 40 entry, Santo and Johnny only had 2 top 40 hits,Chantays failed to have another hit
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Re: Why Didn't The Shadows Invade?

Postby (tamborineman) » Thu Jan 24, 2008 2:20 pm

Thanks for that info Roy.
imho, as the 60's progressed there were less oppertunities for insturmental groups. The singing groups [Beatles, etc.] were wipping the table clean. Let's face it, singers have always been held in higher esteem, in showbiz that the greatest of musicians.
Personally, many of the insturmental groups were my first inspiration to play guitar.
Lonnie Mack, the Ventures, Duane Eddy, etc... 8)
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Re: Why Didn't The Shadows Invade?

Postby (admin) » Thu Jan 24, 2008 2:35 pm

Hank, good points on the Bonanza theme.

As for the Bonanza classic them you can see and hear it below.



Roy: I did not mean to split hairs when it came to your point about instrumentals of the late 50s and 60s. I concur that there were very few artists that had a string of instrumental hits that were guitar bassed.

One offs were, it seems, the order of the day and their success seems to have been based on a strong melody and unique instrumentation. Songs of similar style can wear thin even when the material is well written.
Life, as with music, often requires one to let go of the melody and listen to the rhythm

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Re: Why Didn't The Shadows Invade?

Postby (mark_telfer) » Sun Mar 30, 2008 1:07 pm

Cliff and The Shadows couldn't be part of the British Invasion of late 1964 and early 1965, because they were committed to appearing in the theatrical children's pantomime Aladdin at the London Palladium with the legendary wartime Liverpool comedian Arthur Askey ("Hello Playmates") and the young comic actress Una Stubbs.

The run of shows kept them at the Palladium for ten hours per day, six days per week, between 22nd December 1964 and April 1965, although scripted rehearsals must have occupied them for several weeks previously. The performing schedule was also quite intensive, involving twice-daily performances. The first show went on at 2.45pm and the second one ended at 11pm.

It's difficult to imagine with hindsight, because they were really no older than John Lennon, but by 1964 in Britain, Cliff and The Shadows were all-round, respectable, family entertainers in a different league from the new R&B acts making their first trips across the Atlantic. When The Shadows tried to send up the genre with the instrumental Rhythm 'n' Greens, the public only made it Number 22 in the British charts. The send-up had failed and the Shadows knew it.

As if to demonstrate that they had moved on for good, Cliff and The Shadows appeared in the pantomimes Babes in the Wood and Cinderella, over the following two years.

(Reference: Roll 'n' Roll - I Gave You the Best Years of My Life, Bruce Welch, Penguin Books Ltd, Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England & Viking Penguin, NYC, USA, 1989, pp172-173).
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Re: Why Didn't The Shadows Invade?

Postby (royclough) » Sun Mar 30, 2008 2:37 pm

Mark that is factually correct but not the sole reason in my view, they had toured the States in the early 60's but achieved little success.

Even Apache was not a hit in USA.

Their Managment in my view probably thought the beat group thing would fade out anyway and felt the correct path to follow was the one taken by Tommy Steele, i.e all round appeal.
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Re: Why Didn't The Shadows Invade?

Postby (admin) » Mon Mar 31, 2008 7:35 am

I especially like to see the hypotheses put forth to explain the difficulty the Shadows had in breaking into the US music scene.

My best guess, after additional thought, is the competition. To my way of thinking, Cliff Richard and The Shadows' greatest exposure was the 1963 musical "Summer Holiday." Quite a brilliant bit of work for the day with the song selections set to dance as one typically expects in a musical. That the soundtrack from the movie was successful is one of the great understatements of the day. With a few months the UK charts a string of number one recording including Summer Holiday, The Next Time, Bachelor Boy and Foot Tapper.

Unfortunately Cliff was up against such films as "Fun In Acapulco" and "It Happened At The World's Fair" in 1963 and the excitement over the upcoming "Viva Las Vegas" released in 1964. The relative new comers from the UK were unable to go head to head with Elvis Presley and hence the former was eclipsed.

It would take the Fab Four to get the attention of the USA and of course, the world.

The Shadows were, at least in North America, seen to be the backing group for Cliff Richard and as such perceived as secondary. This supporting artist role was a perception, albeit untrue, that overshadowed this fine instrumental group. At the peak of Summer Holiday the Tijuana Brass was a formidable force in the US, also a difficult act with which to compete.

Timing is sometimes everything in music, as it is in life. At the end of the day, I believe that it was the fierce competition from US groups that kept both Cliff Richard as well as the Shadows from success in America. Cliff would redeem himself somewhat with modest success in the 1970s but it was not to be for the Shadows. The latter, however, are only one big movie away from success should any of their recordings be adopted for the soundtrack.
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