- Cliff Adams Singers
The group was formed by the Southwark, London born Cliff Adams (21 August 1923 - 22 October 2001) who had formed The Stargazers with Dick James in 1950, and joined the BBC Show Band in 1954. On 3 July 1959 the singers first appeared on the BBC Light Programme in Sing Something Simple, also featuring Jack Emblow on piano and accordion. The show was originally commissioned for six programmes, but was so successful that it was immediately extended, and was still broadcasting upon Adams' death in 2001.
Several albums featuring the singers were released, usually entitled Sing Something Simple and reached number 15 in the UK Albums Chart in 1960 and 1962, number 23 in 1976 and number 39 in 1982. These releases included a special album featuring songs from the musicals. There was also a release called Sing Something Silver, to mark the 25th year of Sing Something Simple, and a "Very Best Of" compilation album, which featured 56 songs, not including the theme tune, which traditionally opened and closed the radio show, and most other compilations.
The Cliff Adams singers frequently sang medleys. Sometimes the songs were grouped thematically, other times they did medleys of songs by certain artists - Elvis Presley and the Everly Brothers, for example. They also sang traditional songs like "Old McDonald Had a Farm", "One Man Went To Mow", and the Swiss folk song, "Upidee".
They also had a Top 40 hit in the UK Singles Chart with the "Lonely Man Theme" in 1960, although as this was an instrumental, it was credited to the Cliff Adams Orchestra. The tune became associated with a television commercial for a brand of UK cigarette, named Strand.
The actress and entertainer Anita Harris was, at various times, a singer with the group.
At the age of nine he became a chorister at St Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside. The organist there gave him piano and organ lessons, and at 16 he was working as a pianist in a big band. With the outbreak of World War II, Adams was drafted into the RAF. His rapidly developing musical skills - by this time he was also playing trombone, as well as composing and arranging - led to his being sent to Uxbridge, headquarters of the RAF music services. With them, he spent three years in Africa, for much of the time as part of a 14-piece band, where he was able to hone his writing and arranging skills. On demobilisation he joined the Leslie Douglas Band as pianist and arranger.
By the mid 1940s, and encouraged by the all-woman band leader, Ivy Benson, Adams wrote and arranged for some of the best-known bands of the day, including Ambrose, Ted Heath, Cyril Stapleton and Eric Winstone.
Whilst Sing Something Simple was to play an important role for much of the rest of Adams's life - there were short-lived TV spin-offs, 1961's Something Old, Something New and 1964's Sing-Along Saturday - it was by no means his exclusive musical activity. In 1964 Duke Ellington chose Adams's group to sing with his orchestra at Coventry Cathedral, and when Ellington returned a few years later, the partnership was renewed. In 1976 Adams ventured into the world of West End theatre musicals with the score for the two-act show Liza of Lambeth at the Shaftesbury Theatre, based on the novel by W. Somerset Maugham.
For much of his life, Adams lived in Chelsea, where he built up an art collection of British pictures from the first part of the 20th century. Following open-heart surgery in the late 1970s, he took up tennis, playing almost every day at the Queen's Club.
Adams, who died aged 78 in 2001, was married three times, and is survived by two daughters and a son.
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