Sir Cliff speaks frankly about his 'companion' the ex-priest

Chris Green
Saturday 06 September 2008 00:00
Comments

The memoirs of most pop stars follow a formula, describing in lurid detail their sexual exploits and battles with drug addiction. Sir Cliff Richard's autobiography is a little different, if no less illuminating.

The 67-year-old singer has spoken for the first time about his close relationship with a former Roman Catholic priest, and calls on the Church of England to approve same-sex marriages.

Sir Cliff describes how he struck up an intimate friendship with an American former missionary, Fr John McElynn, after meeting him in New York seven years ago. The famously clean-cut pop singer reveals that he hired Fr McElynn to look after his charitable projects and numerous houses, after it became clear the American would give up the priesthood. The pair now live together.

In the book, Sir Cliff calls the former clergyman his "companion" and "blessing", going on to say he is "sick to death" of media speculation about his sexuality. "Our arrangement has worked out really well," he writes. "John and I have over time struck up a close friendship. He has also become a companion, which is great because I don't like living alone, even now."

Sir Cliff, a poster boy for the Christian faith, also defends his decision to remain a bachelor in the book, titled My Life, My Way. "People often make the mistake of thinking that only marriage equals happiness," he writes.

"I may suddenly meet someone and feel differently, but right now I am not sure marriage would enhance my happiness. As for my sexuality, I am sick to death of the media's speculation about it. What business is it of anyone else's what any of us are as individuals? I don't think my fans would care either way."

He calls on the Church of England to update its views on same-sex marriages, arguing that all judgements on sexuality should be left to God. "I think the Church must come round and see people as they are now. Gone are the days when we assumed loving relationships would be solely between men and women. It seems to me that commitment is the issue, and if anyone comes to me and says: 'This is my partner; we are committed to each other', then I don't care what their sexuality is. I'm not going to judge; I'll leave that to God."

Sir Cliff chose the Lakeside Shopping Centre in Essex to sign copies of his book yesterday. More than 1,000 fans, mostly female, turned up. In the book, Sir Cliff, who has sold more than 250 million records over six decades, reveals that the only two women he considered marrying were the dancer Jackie Irving and Sue Barker, the sports presenter. He describes Ms Irving, with whom he had a relationship in the early 1960s, as "utterly beautiful", and says for a time they were "inseparable". She married Adam Faith.

Sir Cliff met Sue Barker in 1982. They quickly formed a close attachment thanks to their shared passions for tennis and Christianity. "I seriously contemplated asking her to marry me," he writes, "but in the end I realised that I didn't love her quite enough to commit the rest of my life to her. There were no broken hearts."

Enjoy unlimited access to 70 million ad-free songs and podcasts with Amazon Music Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Sign up

He also describes the time he was famously seduced by Carol Costa, the estranged wife of Jet Harris, a member of his backing group, The Shadows. "I was surprised but not unhappy to be seduced", he writes , but stresses that "sex is not one of the things that drives me". In 1996, he flatly denied he was gay. "I'm aware of the rumours, but I'm not gay."

Steve Turner, who wrote a biography of Sir Cliff in 1993, said: "Of all the people I've interviewed, from David Bowie to the Beatles, he's the one most people ask me about. With Cliff, there's always that element of uncertainty and puzzlement, because there's something unresolved about his image."

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in