'Millennium Prayer' (in 1999) was Sir Cliff Richard's 132 No. 1 song in Britain in 41 years (or since 1958). Sir Cliff described 'Millennium Prayer' as "a stroke of genius" because it was "the Lord's Prayer set to 'Auld Lang Syne.'" Back in 1981, Sir Cliff told Lennox Samuels of 'The Milwaukee Sentinel', "I came straight from the school of Elvis Presley and Ricky Nelson. When The Beatles started, the progression was almost too fast. There were sudden changes from album to album. Maybe that's why some groups – and I don't mean The Beatles – burn out so fast."
On reflection, "My music has changed but it's taken 23 years (from 1958 to 1981) to change. My records change only slowly – as I change personally. Quite often, the public is quite prepared to listen to a little more of what you just gave them. But some artists feel they have to change drastically." Born Harry Webb in Lucknow, India in October 1940, Sir Cliff converted to Christianity in 1966 and became an evangelist (or bringer of good news).
Speaking to David Bentley in 1970, he made known, "Friends convinced me that the world of show business is a marvelous platform for a representative of Christ – you reach a lot of people that way. Not only that – it is a profession which perhaps has fewer Christians in it than any other. One grows up very quickly in show business, but it's only in one direction. It's very physical. I’m about the only one around who hasn’t had a nervous breakdown."
Sir Cliff maintained, "I know I can be useful as a Christian through music. No one could be more surprised than myself to see just how popular gospel music has become (back in 1977). Every show I give at a university or church is packed. I think it's important to be socially involved and recognize what people need." He told Jennifer Berry in 1973, "Christianity has taught me to realize I'm bad, and that through it and Jesus' teaching I can resolve my sins. When they find Christianity and God's love they lose their disillusionment."
Sir Cliff once said, "I'm in dire need of Christ. We're all basically bad – all men are similar. You can be the Pope or the Queen but as it says in the Bible, all men are sinners. You read about people who say they've discovered God through LSD . . . rubbish." Of his success in the U.S., "America is the fatherland of rock’n’roll. To receive credibility here (in the U.S.) is important and you can't really ignore the size of the market. 'Devil Woman' (1976) sold about 1.3 million here (in the U.S.) alone and it really struck me how large this audience is."
"I love looking back at the old days but I created a new nostalgia," Sir Cliff confessed. "I've always believed the song dictates how you should do it. If it sounds like it should be reggae, you do that, otherwise the public won't accept it. It won't sound right . . . You know, we're (The Shadows) probably closer to the original rock'n'roll than some of the big bands . . . People want to find something new and basically there isn't anymore, really, I don't think we need anything new. I think rock'n'roll is such a wide spectrum of music that there's no way you can ever get bored or run out of it. There's only good and bad stuff, that's all."
Of the U.S., Sir Cliff told Merrill Schindler in 1976, "I never really thought about America again until Olivia Newton-John made it. It triggered off a new feeling of enthusiasm. I suddenly felt . . . it's the last frontier as far as I'm concerned." He also made the comment, "I have a theory that it's almost pointless to make records that don't sell well. Commercial has become a dirty word; you talk about a commercial hit, and a lot of the alleged purists won't even record it. I think commercial music can be a part of the art form. I'm sure Picasso would still have painted the stuff he painted. Just because everybody wants to buy it and it costs millions of pounds, he wasn't going to say, 'It's commercial rubbish, folks.'"
"I suppose I’ve been the most consistent artist they've (the British record company EMI) have had. The Beatles had so many fantastic smash hits. I mean, my career's not been peppered by No. 1s. They did tally up the score and I think it was like 70 Top 30 hits (in 1980). We're talking about Europe and the rest of the world, because the U.S. has remained elusive for me. I've really only had, as far as I’m concerned, 2 record successes here (in the U.S.)." ('Devil Woman' 1976, 'We Don’t Talk Anymore' 1979)
Sir Cliff made the point in 1980, "I could be working in a factory. Instead, I'm singing, which is what I want to do most. In fact, I have more enthusiasm now than I ever did, because when I first started singing, it was just a matter of getting on stage and wiggling one's kneecaps." When Sir Cliff was born, his father was working for the Bengal Nagpur Railways. Of looking ageless, Sir Cliff told Sandra Jobson who in 1981 went to Surrey to meet with him and his manager, "It's all in the genes. I also take plenty of vitamins. Vitamin A, B-complex, C and E. And kelp. It’s supposed to be good for your hair."
In October 1995 Cliff Richard became "Sir Cliff" after he was knighted from Queen Elizabeth II.