5 minutes with... Sir Cliff Richard
22 May 2013
We featured the iconic singing star and national treasure Sir Cliff Richard in our latest summer issue Life & Living magazine.
Cliff is touring the UK throughout June and tells us how he feels about retirement and how he stays so young at heart...
‘I think of ageing as gently maturing’ says Sir Cliff
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt so far in life?
I think the biggest lesson for us all to learn is that we are all an integral part of humanity, joined at the hip, so to speak and therefore responsible in many ways for our fellow humans. That's why I feel privileged to have been able to support, and give time to many charities, including The Golden Oldies which brings together hundreds of people through laughter and song. (Check out their website at http://www.golden-oldies.org.uk/). Singing and music are a wonderful way to lift people’s spirits. The only thing better than singing is more singing! It has a positive impact on wellbeing, it makes you happy and reduces stress - and you know what they say…happy people live for longer.
Can you think of a better word than ‘retirement’ to describe later life? After all, many people – including you – never retire!
Not a better word but perhaps a better definition. Retirement shouldn't mean ‘stopping’ it should mean ‘changing’. In other words if you stop doing the job you've always done, make sure you find something else to do. I love singing and performing and I would only give it up completely if my voice broke down or audiences made it clear that they didn't want to see me anymore. I would find another job within the ‘Biz’ or I'd play tennis all day! I would definitely keep active, but that hasn't happened yet. In fact, I'm doing my ‘Still Reelin' and A-Rockin' UK tour throughout June, and I'm thankful that I'm still fit and healthy and that energy doesn't seem to be a problem. I do take longer breaks in between work now, so I'm slowing down if anything, not stopping.
Do you think ageism still exists in society? Would you say you’ve had experience of it yourself in dealing with radio stations?
To some extent I suppose it still does. I think that when we are young, a lot of us are conditioned to fear age and that's because in the media we are only exposed to the negative aspects of growing old, therefore people hold negative stereotypes of elderly people. But take me for example, although I'm no spring chicken I can still rock and roll. I know that many younger people can't imagine a 72 year old still performing on stage but I do, so there!
In respect of radio stations, I don't think they are interested in longevity. Times change and everyone has their own taste, especially when it comes to music. Whether this is to do with ageism, I guess we’ll never know. However despite the absence in airplay for some of my songs, I still manage to make the charts now and then and I believe it's because good music speaks for itself and can become timeless no matter how old it is, or for that matter, how old the singer is.
What’s the best thing about getting older?
For me, it’s the memories I’ve collected along the way. There are so many good times to remember, although of course there will be a few bad ones, but it's all part of a learning process. I have many fond memories to look back on, many more of course than someone still in their youth. So you see there is something to be said about ageing, although I think of it as ‘gently maturing’.
How long will you continue brining out your calendars and how do you manage to still look so incredibly youthful?
I think the minute everything starts to drop too much, I will stop. But I'm more than happy to pose for the calendars as long as people want to put me up on their wall. When I know my calendar is coming up I go to the gym more often. I can't look youthful any more but if I can look ‘good’ then I'm happy. Also I make time to exercise and eat healthily all year round which definitely helps.
You’re still a much-loved and energetic performer but are you still interested in new artists – or are you happy to stick with what you know already?
I never tire of performing my old songs, but I do love a challenge. So, whatever comes my way, if I like it, I’d try it. I love duetting and I did a duet with Olivia Newton John and John Travolta on their Christmas CD last year and I've sung with Elton John, Daniel O'Donnell and Dionne Warwick and more, and if some of the new gang wanted to duet I’d be thrilled to have a go!
*Sir Cliff’s ‘Still Reelin’ and A-Rockin’ tour runs from 1 - 23 June at historic outdoor venues throughout the UK:
Harewood House (Yorkshire), Sat 1 June, Manchester Arena, Sun 2 June, Blickling Hall (East Anglia), Thurs 6 June, Warwick Castle (Warwickshire), Sat 8 June, Hatfield House (Hertfordshire), Sun 9 June, The County Ground (Sussex CCC, Hove), Sat 15 June, Powderham Castle (Exeter), Sun 16 June, Hampton Court Palace Festival, Sat 22 June and Sun 23 June.