There were two projects at least known as The Shadows. One was a roots reggae outfit that cut a few 7"s on Trojan Records. The other one is covered in detail below.
The Shadows were the fore-runners of the guitar bands of the British pop scene of the swinging sixties. They began as the Drifters in the late fifties but changed the name to the Shadows to avoid confusion with an American group with the same name.
Original members were Hank Marvin (lead guitar), Bruce Welch (rhythm guitar), Jet Harris (bass guitar) and Tony Meehan (drums).
The Shadows initially provided the musical backing for Cliff Richard in the very popular "Cliff Richard Show".
They became stars in their own right when their recording "Apache" hit the No. 1 spot of the British chart in 1960 and remained there for several weeks.
This was followed by a string of No. 1 hits including "KonTiki", "Atlantis", "Wonderful Land", "Foot Tapper" and "Dance On".
Not satisfied with being just backing musicians, drummer Tony Meehan and bass guitarist Jet Harris left to strike out on their own. They were replaced by drummer Brian Bennett and bass guitarist Brian Locking. Harris & Meehan managed to hit the No. 1 spot with "Diamonds" which had the distinction of being the only bass guitar solo piece to enter the British charts. Success was limited and they faded away soon after.
The Shadows provided the musical backing for all of Cliff Richard's early hits. In addition, Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch provided the vocal chorus backing for most of Cliff' Richard's hit songs.
The impact of the Shadows on the British pop scene of the sixties can only be described as historic. According to the Apache Songfacts, John Lennon once claimed that The Shadows were one of the only things in British music "worth listening to" before The Beatles came along. Their trademark was the unique sound of Hank Marvin's lead guitar.
Hank was, to a large extent, influenced by the guitar playing style of Scotty Moore, who provided the guitar solo backing for Elvis Presley's earlier recordings. However, he later developed his own style which was copied by guitar groups all over Europe.
It was Hank who introduced the use of Echo or Reverb. He pioneered the use of the Meazzi echo- box, a device which gives a rich resonance to guitar sounds. He was also master of the Tremelo Arm, a bar installled on electric guitars to vary the pitch of a note. Other Hank Marvin trademarks were Muting, a technique featured in their hit "Foot-tapper", and penta-tonic "double stops" (listen to the guitar riff of Cliff Richard's "Livin' Doll" to get an idea of what it's like).
Hank used a combination of Muting and Reverb in "Atlantis" and "Wonderful Land" to produce a "new sound" which other musicians imitated.
A characteristic feature of Shadows' music was the brilliant rhythm guitar sounds of Bruce Welch in the background and in hits like "Peace Pipe" and "36-24-36" a few bars were allocated to rhythm guitar alone. Bass guitar riffs were featured in "Kon-Tiki". In "36-24-36" bass, lead and rhythm guitarists took turns to show-case their skills. A little known fact was that while all three used top of the range Fender electric guitars on stage, an accoustic guitar was used by Bruce Welch in most of their recordings.
During the sixties,the Shadows spawned a whole series of pop bands with identical make up, consisting of three guitarists and one drummer.
With the passage of time, their brand of music gradually faded in popularity. In 1968 The Shadows disbanded leaving behind a legacy all guitar music lovers will forever appreciate. Hank and Bruce continued playing by co-opting other musicians and there were occasional reunions with Jet and Tony.
Besides music albums the Shadows also appeared in most of Cliff Richard's movies, most of which were light hearted comedies with a musical theme.
Tragedy struck former Shadows twice. In Nov. 1973, John Rostill, (who had replaced Brian Locking), was accidentally electrocuted by his own electric guitar. Unknown to most people was John's talent as a composer. He wrote "Please Mr. Please" and "Let Me Be There" which although ignored by singers in UK, became hits when recorded by Olivia Newton John.
Founder member and original drummer, Tony Meehan, who played with the Shadows from 1958 to 1961, died from head injuries due to a fall in Nov. 2005 at age 62. Tony was featured in the Shadow's "Apache", "Man of Mystery", "FBI", "The Savage" and others. He was also the drummer in Cliff Richard's "Living Doll", "Please Don't Tease", "Travellin' Light" and "I Love You".
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