Evergreen British pop star Sir Cliff Richard - who turns 69 today (Oct. 14) - and his band the Shadows have moved almost 80,000 albums in three weeks, during their 50th anniversary farewell tour.
Live Nation says the tour has shifted 230,000 tickets and their last U.K. performance takes place at London's Wembley Arena on Oct. 23, with the tour then heading to Europe and, in 2010, South Africa and Australia.
"Reunited" (EMI), a collection of re-recordings of old hits, was issued to mark the tour and it has now climbed to No. 4 on the Official Charts Co's U.K. albums chart after three weeks with total U.K. sales of 78,000 up to the end of Oct. 10.
Sir Cliff has enjoyed a remarkable 51-year chart career, beginning with 1958's "Move It," and he went on to record various hits with the Shadows. But he almost counts as a youngster on the current album chart top 10, which also includes 81-year-old Andy Williams and 92-year-old Dame Vera Lynn. Barbra Streisand, 67, is at No. 1 with "Love is the Answer" (Sony Music Entertainment).
As reported in the current issue of Billboard, rock 'n' roll and pre-rock 'n' roll recordings are being successfully monetized in the U.K. thanks to TV advertising campaigns targeting older music fans.
However, Peter Duckworth, SVP commercial marketing and catalog at EMI, believes the Cliff and the Shadows reunion goes beyond such appeal. "Cliff and the Shadows together are from the rock 'n' roll era but the event of them reforming is not a rock 'n' roll event but a Cliff and the Shadows event," he says.
Nevertheless, the marketing has also been aimed at older fans, with TV advertising on soap operas and daytime TV, and the limited edition box set with jigsaw and bonus CD has proved popular. Duckworth says the jigsaw edition accounted for almost 20% of the 32,000 first week sales.
"We wanted a product that would be ideal for a gift purchase and a fan purchase, with added value," he says. "The bonus EP, jigsaw, and box met these requirements." Older music fans' preference for physical product also explains why only 2% of first week sales were by download.
EMI has naturally marketed the album on the tour, including advertising in the tour program. The fanbase includes a postal database of 65,000 and an email database of 42,000.
Cliff Richard's manager Bill Latham, of the Cliff Richard Organisation, says the tour is going "incredibly well, from the word go box office was quite amazing." He adds that the album sales are an "excellent achievement."
"There is a huge loyal fanbase - that's where we begin - and the Shadows have their fanbase too," says Latham of the tour's 230,000-strong audience. "Thereafter our promotion is national and we try to pick up those who have fond memories. Every song is nostalgic, every one is a hit and very familiar. So the audience are singing along, it really is a trip down memory lane."
"Cliff always does an energetic show although there's no specific choreography this time which there normally is in a Cliff show," says Latham. "Cliff's energy levels supersede anything that's normal. It's good old '60s rock 'n' roll."
As for the farewell tour, that definitely just applies to Cliff Richard and the Shadows. "Cliff's not saying it's his last tour at all," says Latham. "It will be the last time Cliff and the Shadows tour together. He will be performing again."