Sir Cliff `exploited people's religion to sell vile record'

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The Independent Online
SIR CLIFF Richard's chart topping "Millennium Prayer" has failed to engender peace and goodwill among rock stars.

Yesterday, Sir Cliff was on the receiving end of an attack from George Michael, who described it, and the use of churches to promote it, as "vile."

Calling Sir Cliff "the vicar" Michael accused him of "exploiting Christians" and urged his own fans to buy the reissued John Lennon classic "Imagine" to oust Sir Cliff from the top spot. Michael said of Sir Cliff: "He is always taking his hat off to himself, telling you how many hits he's had - yes absolutely great achievement, but I think this single and the way it's been dealt with has been vile actually.

"Just knowing that there was a Church campaign for it, I think it is so exploitative of people's religion, it really is. I think there are people out there who feel it is their duty as a Christian to buy this record on the eve of the millennium - and that is a really horrible reason for a number one record."

He said of "Imagine": "That would be a worthy number one ... but I don't think anyone is going to shake the vicar!

"I think everyone listening to this show should buy `Imagine' just to make sure they don't have that heinous piece of music on the radio as we go into the next millennium." Sir Cliff said: "A lot of people want to buy `Millennium Prayer' because they generally feel that this is a Christian celebration.

"It's a great shame that George feels that the marketing ... has been vile, because ... that casts a shadow over a lot of people who have bought it.

"`Millennium Prayer' has defied every marketing rule in the book because of the genuine groundswell of support for all it stands for."