The First British Band That Sold 1 Million Records
via Cliff Richard / Youtube
It is natural to think about British superstars when trying to compile a list of the best-selling artists of all time. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Oasis, and so on will all be included. But, when discussing which British band was the first to sell a million copies, however, the Fab Four only comes in at number two.
Long before the “British Invasion” came and blew everyone’s minds away, one group first sold a million copies with their song, “The Young Ones.” The band in question? Cliff Richard and the Shadows.
Amazing as this may seem for a new British band, the song’s tone is more indebted to Western music than anything often associated with Britain. When most guitarists picked up an instrument, they tried to sound like Chuck Berry. With this, “The Young Ones” sounded southernized, much like what you would expect from a Johnny Cash album.
The country-sounding instruments belie the distinct rock and roll lyrics. Richard is discussing the world beyond their small community with his love, and is contemplating leaving their little, unremarkable town for a bigger and better one; his voice is full of dramatic overtones as he discusses this prospect.
Even while the British Invasion wouldn’t truly begin until a few years later, the band’s swagger helped generate a lot of buzz for the band in its early days. An early reviewer proclaimed the charming Fab Four to be “the best thing that the English music scene has seen since the Shadows.”
Listen to “The Young Ones” by Cliff Richard and the Shadows below.