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Hank Marvin: Cliff and I are just old teenagers really
JEHOVAH'S Witnesses are active the world over but the citizens of Perth, Australia,
are privileged to have in their midst one of the most high-profile evangelical doorknockers
in the business: legendary rock 'n' roll guitarist Hank Marvin. ~ May 31, 2014 By Dominic Midgley

 Hank Marvin maintained his style ever since the early days of Cliff and the Shadows. He and his wife Carol were baptised into the faith in 1973 and since then have not baulked at performing the duty expected of all its adherents. "We just follow Jesus's words and his words to his followers were, 'Go and make disciples. Teach people what I've taught you'," says Marvin, 72, founder of 60s supergroup The Shadows, whose latest solo album, Hank, is released on Monday.

He adds: "There are situations where people will recognise me. But they'll say, 'You're not Hank Marvin are you? What are you doing this for?' And it gives you an opportunity to have a discussion with them." On one memorable occasion, he knocked on a door and as he stood awaiting a response heard the unmistakable sound of Apache, The Shadows' greatest chart hit, blaring away inside. Surely he must have made a convert there? "They didn't come to the door!" he says, laughing.

It was his religious convictions that led to him declining an OBE in 2004. "I felt very honoured and privileged that I should even be considered, trust me, but I just felt I couldn't in all conscience accept it," he says, citing scriptural impediments.

"The letter you get says your name will be put forward to Her Majesty the Queen blah blah blah. Then it says, 'If you wish to accept this please tick the acceptance box. If you wish to decline it tick the decline box.' Then there was a note in with it saying, 'I hope you don't think we're being inappropriate here but would you please send us a photograph for our wall in the office.' This was from Tony Blair's office. Bizarre!"

Lean as a whippet, with little sign of grey in his chestnut mop, and still sporting the outsized specs that became his trademark, the guitarist, who is revered by peers such as Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page and Brian May of Queen, remains a household name more than 50 years after scoring his first Number One.

Proof of his enduring appeal came two years ago when Saatchi and Saatchi made a commercial for a Mattessons snack featuring a cast of schoolboys sporting wigs of Hank's distinctive bob, lookalike specs and strumming Apache on Fender Stratocasters, the mould-breaking guitar Marvin helped to make famous.

When it came to the Cockney rhyming slang punchline, "Mattessons Fridge Raiders - for when you're Hank Marvin" (Cockney rhyming slang for starving) it was correctly assumed his place in the cultural pantheon was so established no further explanation was needed.

But he didn't get to the top without paying his dues. Born in Newcastle in 1941 and christened with the less exotic name of Brian Rankin, Marvin left school before taking O-Levels "probably to the delight of the headmaster because it would have brought his averages down". At 16 he was earning £2 10s (£2.50) a week working as a cycle courier for an electrical firm and his prospects appeared limited. But he had one thing going for him: a passion for music. A year earlier he had bought a banjo from one of his teachers and in months traded up to guitar when his father bought him a Hofner Congress as a birthday gift.

Rankin called himself Hank to differentiate himself from other Brians in his social circle, took his new surname from a country and western singer called Marvin Rainwater and was ready to make his bid for the big time with schoolfriend Bruce Welch. "I persuaded my parents that the only opportunity we would have of getting into the music business would be to go to London," he recalls. "That's where all the action was. I suspect they thought within a few weeks we'd be back with our tails between our legs with all our dirty washing."

For a time that looked the most likely outcome. While the boys headed straight for the 2i's coffee bar in Soho, then considered the place to perform if you wanted to get noticed, finance was soon an issue. "The first few weeks were quite difficult," says Marvin. "We had no money. We couldn't really pay the rent but Mrs Freeman, the lady who owned the boarding house we were staying at, was from the same part of the world as we were and so had a bit of a soft spot for us. She let us pile up the rent until we got some money.  "We very rarely had a lot to eat. On Sundays we'd nick an apple from someone's tree hanging over a wall and that was it."

The two would-be pop stars were soon playing gigs five or six days a week at the 2i's and it was there that Marvin met Johnny Foster, the manager of an 18-year-old singer called Cliff Richard, then riding high in the charts with a song called Move It. The good news was that he was recruiting a backing band for an upcoming UK tour and following a brief audition Marvin was hired. Hearing Foster was seeking a rhythm guitarist, he persuaded him to take on Welch as well.

Marvin vividly recalls his first meeting with the man who was to go on to sell 250 million records: "Cliff was being fitted with this pink jacket that was being made for the tour. We met, said hello, sort of sneered at each other and then got on a Green Line bus to where he lived in Cheshunt. "The journey was great because we got talking. We discovered we had a similar sense of humour and liked the same things such as The Goons and Brigitte Bardot. We then had our first rehearsal in Cliff's parents' house. It was a council house and the front room became our rehearsal room."

Marvin and Welch were joined by a bass player and drummer and called themselves The Drifters. There was already an American vocal group of that name, however, and it was soon dropped in favour of The Shadows.

It was at about this time that the renowned jazz guitarist Denny Wright took Marvin to one side during a gig at the Finsbury Park Empire. "He said, 'Hank, you cannot wear your specs on stage. It's very unprofessional. We do not do that in the entertainment industry'." Wright touched a raw nerve. Marvin had been self-conscious about his glasses since first acquiring them as a schoolboy. "I was incredibly shortsighted and so I had to get glasses, which I was very embarrassed about at the time," he says. "I wouldn't go to school because I'd be mocked. But you have to eventually, of course, and I got used to them.

"One great thing for all of us who wore specs was Buddy Holly, who had big hits with the Crickets and as himself. He wore glasses and no one seemed to mind so that was really encouraging. Anyway I didn't listen to Denny. I thought, 'If Buddy Holly can get away with it so can I.' And of course I'm glad I did. They have become a kind of trademark."

In addition to playing for him, Cliff encouraged The Shadows to record on their own account and even effected the introduction that led to them being signed by a record company. It is a move he might have regretted a few months later when Apache displaced one of his own singles in the hit parade. "He was absolutely delighted when it got into the charts because we were all friends," says Marvin. "But then of course we knocked Please Don't Tease off the number one spot."

The Shadows followed up Apache with 13 more Top 10 hits over the next four years, including two number ones - Wonderful Land and Kon-Tiki - but things were not going quite so well on the home front. Marvin had married his first wife Beryl at the age of 19 and by the mid-1960s they had four children. But they were drifting apart and "basically broke up by about 1967".

Relations within the group soon began to deteriorate too, with Welch precipitating the break-up of The Shadows by announcing his departure in 1968. Marvin went on to appear in a TV show with Cliff Richard and Una Stubbs before forming a three-piece with Welch and another musician Johnny Farrar.

The Shadows re-formed in 1973 and came second in the Eurovision Song Contest of 1975 with Let Me Be The One but their best days were behind them and - apart from the odd reunion tour - Marvin has the odd reunion tour - Marvin has spent the intervening decades concentrating on a solo career.

He and second wife Carol moved to Perth in 1986 in search of a warmer climate and his latest release is a collection of 14 instrumental cover versions linked by the theme of summer, including Good Day Sunshine and California Girls, which features contributions from his two youngest children Ben and Tahlia.

"I still feel young", he says. "Someone said the other day that growing old is inevitable, growing up is optional. That's how I feel. Cliff's the same. We're just old teenagers really."

My haven, Hank Marvin:
The legendary Shadows guitarist, 75,
in his recording studio near his home in Perth, Australia
Ref: ~ July 14, 2017 ~ Peter Robertson
(Some photos referred to are no longer available)

Hank's studio is a mere ten minutes away from the apartment he lives in with his wife Carole

This is my studio, ten minutes away from the apartment in Perth where my wife Carole and I live. When we moved here in 1986 – for the weather and less recognition – Bruce Welch from The Shadows gave me this framed blazer badge from Rutherford Grammar School in Newcastle, where we met as teenagers.

After playing northern clubs in a band together, we went to London for a music competition, met Cliff Richard’s manager at the 2i’s coffee bar in Soho and joined his group The Drifters, which became The Shadows. The school’s gone now so I was touched by this gift.

This picture of me and my youngest son Ben was taken in the 90s. He and his sister Thalia, both in their forties, are in a local acoustic duo, Chill Divine – he plays guitar and she sings. They don’t trade off my name, and it’s nice to see them work together. Of my children from my first marriage, Philippa lives in Hastings, Peter lives in the Midlands and his twin brother Paul is here in Perth. I see the others when I’m in England – last time I was over I appeared on Andrew Neil’s This Week show. He said he was a big fan of The Shadows and that Wonderful Land was one of his favourite records.

This gold disc is for my 1995 album Hank Plays Cliff, which features Cliff on two tracks – that’s us in 1983 on the right. Without doubt Cliff’s the greatest British pop star ever. I’ve known him since he was 17 and we’re still close. When he was dating Sue Barker, he’d call Carole and me to ask us to invite them to dinner ‘because we can’t go out without people taking photos’. We hold different views on religion though – he’s a Christian, I’m a Jehovah’s Witness – which has led to some interesting discussions.

Carole and I bought this elegant bronze, Stolen Moment by Ruth Bloch, in Paris during one of my last tours and had it shipped to Australia. I met Carole when we were making the Cliff Richard movie Finders Keepers in 1966, and we’ve been together ever since. We love and respect one another and try to be unselfish. Carole’s a good ambassador with our fans too. You do get some strange fans though – a while ago one came over from Italy and gave me a very odd gift saying, ‘This will be our little secret.’ I won’t say what it was! But I can’t imagine what Cliff’s had from his fans.

This banjo was my first stringed instrument. I bought it from a Rutherford schoolmaster, James Moody, when I was 15. Here too is my Favino gypsy jazz guitar, the black one, but most importantly there’s my first custom-made Signature Stratocaster, modelled in 1989 on my original 1959 Stratocaster. Cliff bought me the original, and I gave it back to him in 1961 when The Shadows were given our own Fender guitars, famously in matching red. Cliff and The Shadows reunited for a tour in 2009, but I doubt we’ll do it again. I don’t think anyone wants to.

This is the American Society Of Composers & Publishers Award for Outstanding Country Song, which I won for the Olivia Newton-John hit Sam. I wasn’t expecting it and it’s different from all my guitar awards. Olivia’s a lovely person – she and Carole are good friends. Another unexpected honour was for my name to become Cockney rhyming slang for ‘starving’, which led to a TV advert below for some Mattessons chicken snacks a few years ago, with lots of schoolboy lookalikes of me playing The Shadows’ hit Apache. I’d made it at last!

Hank's name became Cockney rhyming slang for ‘starving’,
which led to the TV advert for some Mattessons chicken snacks a few years ago

Hank Marvin was the lead guitarist of The Shadows, the best-selling British rock 'n' roll act before The Beatles. Marvin and The Shadows had huge hits in the UK, including "Apache" and "Wonderful Land". As a guitarist, whose trademark was a clean, pure sound accentuated by a distinctive echo effect, Marvin is considered a huge influence on many big stars. His talents have been praised by the likes of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Brian May, Mark Knopfler and Midge Ure.

Since his commercial peak in the early '60s, Marvin has also pursued a solo career and recorded many albums which have featured instrumental cover versions of other artists' hits. Songs Marvin has performed in his distinctive style include "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, "Against All Odds" by Phil Collins, "Every Breath You Take" by The Police and "Daydream" by The Lovin' Spoonful.

Spouse: Carole Naylor  (1971 - present) (2 children)

Trade Mark: Metallic, echoed guitar picking producing a clean, pure sound ~ 1954 Fender Stratocaster Guitar

Voted the North East's best guitarist in Total Guitar Magazine's poll of the greatest 12 British guitarists. [July 2001]
Was offered an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2004 Queen's Birthday Honours List for services to Music. Though honoured to be recommeded for the award, he decided not to accept it for "personal and private reasons". His bandmates from The Shadows, drummer Brian Bennett and rhythm guitarist Bruce Welch, both accepted their OBEs.
Now lives in Australia. [2005]
Many guitarists, including Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath), Peter Green, Brian May (Queen), Dave Davies (The Kinks), Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits), Midge Ure, Andy Powell (Wishbone Ash), Peter Frampton, Steve Lukather (Toto), Marty Wilde, Phil Manzanera (Roxy Music), Martin Taylor, Guthrie Govan, Steve Hackett (Genesis), Darrel Higham, Carl Verheyen (Supertramp), Steve Howe (Yes), Randy Bachman (Guess Who, BTO), Bill Nelson, John Jorgenson, Gordon Giltrap and Richard Hawley considered him an influence.

Personal Quotes
There's a song called Boys of Summer, I think, Don Henley is it? Great track. Love the record but we kicked that around, it doesn't work as an instrumental. There's almost no tune. There's a chorus but there's no tune in the verse and you've got this guitar line in the intro and unless you copy that, there's nothing really there to work with.

[on his 2014 album "Hank"] Most of them have got good tunes with one exception and that's Message in a Bottle. But a great guitar riff and a good chorus, so I could work with that. The tune itself, if you think about it, it's not really a's a kind of...what would you call it? It's not exactly monotone in the tune but it's not a good melody in the sense of say Daydream or California Girls. Sorry Sting.

Cliff [Cliff Richard] made Move It, which is a classic rock'n'roll record, in the summer of 1958 - Bruce and I were turning 17 and Cliff was turning 18. Before that there were pretty gruesome attempts at rock'n'roll in Britain, mainly variety acts and cheeky chappies impersonating Americans.

[on the music press] It does seem to begin with The Beatles and the Stones [The Rolling Stones]. They seem unaware that that we had an international career, and had a massive influence everywhere in the world except for the USA.



 Hank Marvin: My family values
The musician and former lead guitarist with Cliff Richard's backing band, the Shadows,
talks about marrying too young, the death of his eldest son and having a musical family

Hank Marvin: 'I've learned the importance of family as I've got older.

Ref: The ~ June 13, 2014 ~ by Nick McGrath

I was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1941 and my family lived upstairs from my Auntie Doris in a two-storey maisonette with a concrete backyard, an outside toilet and no running water. It was sheer luxury! My dad worked for London North Eastern Railways, which eventually became British Rail, and he was a good father in that he drank very little because there wasn't much money.

I was probably closer to my mother. She was very big on hygiene and keeping my younger brother Joe and me clean and well presented. She was also more affectionate than my father, who was quite a strict man and not so easy to get close to. Joe is nearly four years younger than me but once he was five or six, we played together a lot and hung out with our cousin, who was two years younger than me.

Hank Marvin with his first wife, Beryl,
and his eldest son, Dean, as a young boy. Dean died in 1997.

My dad bought me my first guitar for my 16th birthday. I got so into music that I pushed any academic work to one side. My parents weren't really aware of that at the time, and I sort of conned them into letting me go down to London in April 1958 to break into the music business. I wrote to them telling them everything was fine in those first six months, even though we sometimes wouldn't eat for two days. When I next saw them, in October 1958, we were doing the first tour with Cliff Richard and earning money.

Having success early had a big impact on my young family as I was away touring so much. I was just 19 when my first child was born. I was way too young to get married and I didn't fully understand the implications of it all, and probably was far too young to be a father. Suddenly, you're hit with this young child to consider and to look after and feed and clothe and educate, and try to make them into a decent human being. I've got four children from my first marriage. Our first son, Dean, died a number of years ago [from pneumonia aged 34 in 1997, after years of drug and alcohol abuse]. Then there were twin boys, Peter and Paul. Then Philippa.

Although Dean and I were estranged when he died, it was still a great shock and sadness and it affected everyone. He just chose a course in life that was really going to end in disaster and it did, sadly. It tore our hearts out, but you just have to learn to live with it as you would with any loss. The grieving eventually stops. There are other people that you have to care for and give attention to, so that takes priority.

By the time Thalia was born in 1973 and Ben in 1975, my circumstances were different. I didn't want to be away as much and, if I was going away, my wife, Carole, and the kids would come with me as often as possible and I was able to handle parenthood in a much better way, with the maturity that experience brings.

Musicality does seem to run through the family. My son Ben is a bachelor of music in contemporary guitar and he's a very good player. He and I arranged and performed tracks on my new album and he used to play in my band. Thalia and Ben, who live in Perth, Australia where Carole and I live, also have an acoustic duo. The twins play guitar; one does some semi-pro blues and folky work and the other one just does it for fun.

Family is very important to me. I've learned the importance of it as I've got older. The family is the basic unit in society and it's important to spend time together and to play together.




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