Cliff Richard once tried to take a break from his Summer Holiday image – with the help of a guitarist from hard-rock legends Whitesnake.
Squeaky clean Sir Cliff was introduced to rocker Bernie Marsden by his own manager in a bid to harden up his sound.
Bernie, now 68, reveals he was “very unexpectedly recommended” to the singer in 1989 – and went to one of his concerts to see what needed changing.
He said: “His team had thought it would be good to introduce a hard-rock feel. There was a certain amount of surprise from those around Cliff, a lot of eyes were watching me.
“I could feel an uneasy vibe – why the hell is this ex-Whitesnake guitarist at a Cliff Richard gig?
“I watched the show and made mental notes of just how many changes there needed to be. I could see that a lot would need to be done.”
Bernie met manager David Bryce to discuss taking a role, then had dinner with Cliff before joining band rehearsals.
He said: “They perceived me as a rock star with a Porsche who shouldn’t really be there. On reflection, this was probably true.
“During the first few days, Cliff wasn’t there. The keyboard player was clearly the bandleader. I told him exactly what we were going to do… play a new version of Carrie. He was somewhat confused.”
Bernie was in David Coverdale’s band with fellow guitarist Micky Moody from 1978 to 1981, and also co-wrote their biggest hit, Here I Go Again.
He recalled: “By the end of the third day, people were coming in to check us out, it must have sounded so different.
“Cliff at last joined us, and it was a great thrill to play guitar on The Young Ones, standing next to Cliff Richard.
“It was plain to see Cliff liked it.
“When his management team came to see, their faces got increasingly dour – they could see his audience disappearing.”
He said that in the end Cliff told Bryce it was “too many changes, too soon”.
In his memoir, Where’s My Guitar? An Inside Story of British Rock and Roll, Bernie writes: “I lost a bit of respect for him in that moment. If I’d thought something was so good, I’d have told my management I wanted to give it a go.”