14 October 1937
Hulme, Manchester, Lancashire, England
|Died||9 May 1993
Twemlow was born in Hulme, Manchester, the son of a merchant seaman. He became a nightclub bouncer, or “Tuxedo Warrior”, in 1950s Morecambe before this occupation would take him to Scotland and back to Manchester. Hoping to diversify Twemlow worked as an extra on the television series Coronation Street and attempted to break into the music industry by composing library music under the pen name Peter Reno. The latter was a hugely successful venture, with Twemlow penning more than two thousand compositions within the space of a few years. Musically self-taught, Cliff composed music using what he referred to as the ‘De Dum Da’ Principle. “I had discovered that with the aid of a tape recorder, I could assemble or compose lyric and tune. My voice would simulate orchestral sounds, giving me an insight as to how it could be arranged. God, the noises were appalling. Um Te Ta, Deeple, Dum Rump Pa Pa! I was in hysterics listening to the playback.” he later claimed in his autobiography. Most of his Peter Reno material was written for the company De Wolfe Music and used in television (Public Eye, Rutland Weekend Television, The Benny Hill Show,Queenie’s Castle, The Sweeney), films (Zeta One, Secrets of Sex, A Touch of the Sun) and advertisements. One of his songs “Cause I’m a Man”, written in 1967, later became famous when it was used in the film Dawn of the Dead. A particularly lucrative composition was “Distant Hills”, which was used as the end credit theme of the programme Crown Court from 1972 to the shows end in 1984. “Distant Hills” would also prove to be Cliff’s only brush with the charts when it was used as the B side to Eye Level- the theme from Van der Valk- a single that enjoyed four weeks at number one in 1973. The same year however Cliff would encounter legal problems due to a song of his - recorded by Salena Jones - bearing the name ‘Live and Let Die’. Though released shortly before Paul McCartney recorded a song by the same name for the eponymous James Bond film, a court case was instigated by the publishers of the McCartney song and an injunction slammed on the Twemlow record. Twemlow’s defence was that it was simply an innocent example of two songs bearing the same title, unfortunately a “James Bond” style pose on the picture sleeve threw doubt on this, and the court found in favour of McCartney’s people. The Twemlow/Salena Jones record was subsequently withdrawn. Unfortunately such problems within the music industry, combined with bad business deals, legal hassles and a divorce from childhood sweetheart Georgina Curly meant Twemlow's music success was short lived and he was eventually declared bankrupt. One of Twemlow’s songs from this period “Once” from the album Restless Woman (1971), claims “Once I owned a mansion/ Money couldn’t buy / People used to stop and say / There goes quite a guy/ Now I’m left with nothing/ And I have no place to go/ For when you’re down/ Nobody wants to know”.
In the mid-1970s Twemlow took a variety of odd jobs, including a delivery driver for Lomas and Baynes, a company that specialised in supplying equipment for offices, he also worked for a time as a ferryman on the Manchester Ship Canal in Irlam. After undergoing an extreme fitness régime to get back into shape (Twemlow’s exercise sessions - which included jogging with lead weights tied to his legs - were the stuff of local legend) Twemlow eventually returned to work as a nightclub bouncer, taking a £70 a week job, at Peter Stringfellow's 'Millionaire' nightclub in Manchester's West Mosley Street - this was the real name of the 'The Omega' club referred to in the book, 'The Tuxedo Warrior'. He was married to Judith, who worked as a secretary for a Manchester firm of solicitors and they lived in Whitefield on the north side of the Manchester area.
In the early 1980s he wrote his autobiography The Tuxedo Warrior, which documented his career in the music industry and as a bouncer. In the book's final chapter Twemlow is hospitalised after a fight in a nightclub leaves him with a fractured skull and his family ask him to retire or seek an alternative lifestyle. He refuses and returns to being a Tuxedo Warrior, the book closes with the statement “it is far better to be a resident on the brink of hell, than spend a lifetime in a relentless pursuit of a mythical heaven”.
Tuxedo Warrior was turned into a film in 1982, however the film chooses to ignore all aspects of Cliff’s life and instead merely uses him as a character in a fictional narrative. In the film Cliff (John Wyman) is an ex-bouncer from Manchester who has opened a bar in South Africa and becomes involved in diamond smuggling, as well as being torn between two women, an American free spirit (Holly Palance) and a British compulsive gambler (Carol Royle). Confusingly the real Twemlow appears in the film as supporting character ‘Chaser’. The only other character in the film taken from the book, in real life Chaser, r.n. Barney Brogan, was an American bouncer who had a violent confrontation with Cliff in 1950s Morecambe. In the book he is described as “a big burly American, around 5' 11". Whose face had taken more second prizes than a blind tomcat in a bowling alley….. Chaser was big and evil.”
Encouraged by the success of the Tuxedo Warrior book Twemlow would go onto write two fiction books for the pulp horror market the Beast of Kane (1983) and The Pike (1982). The Beast of Kane, concerns the Gordon family, who adopt a stray elk-hound that turns out to be “Satan himself, fulfilling an ancient prophecy”. Written in the late 1970s under the title The Dogs of Kane, the book was submitted as a possible film project for Hammer Film Productions but was rejected. Twemlow then tried to make a film of The Pike, starring Joan Collins, but the budget could not be raised despite Collins’ star power and Twemlow and Collins promoting the film on the BBC’s Look North programme. During the promotion Joan appeared on a BBC TV Tomorrow's World special featuring the innovative and technically advanced mechanical Pike, made especially for the film. The Mechanical Pike apparently now resides as an exhibit of robotics in Japan.
In 1982-83 Twemlow acted in, wrote and composed the music score for the film “GBH”, one of the earliest British films to be shot on videotape. Considered to be far more accurate in depicting Twemlow’s life than the Tuxedo Warrior film, GBH features him as Steve Donovan aka “The Mancunian”, a world weary nightclub bouncer hired to protect a club from a London gang. The film’s well remembered video cover features a blood splattered Twemlow holding an axe with the tag line “more brutal than The Long Good Friday”.
The theme song of the film, written by Cliff was actually a ballad depiction of how Cliff was in real life, the lyrics "he walks tall with his head held high, before he backs down he would rather die, he's a mean machine, none tougher than, the man, man, man, man-cunian man!" were EXACTLY how Cliff lived his life. To those who REALLY knew him, rather than those who knew him vaguely or claimed to know him; his true friends who lived day by day, shoulder to shoulder with him through the 1980s and into the 1990s saw him live by his words and actually led by example, often daring to venture where others genuinely feared to tread. GBH led to Cliff Twemlow appearing in 12 more films shot as video features plus a plethora of film-shorts and MajorVision special interest films.
These included Target Eve Island (1983), which became known as Operation Urgent Fury, named after the American military operation to Grenada, co-produced with Martin de Rooy in Grenada and Barbados, The Ibiza Connection in 1994 with his close friends Steve Powell and Brian Sterling-Vete, in 1985 Cliff worked closely with Brian in an attempt to produce the film called 'The Blind Side of God' with former Coronation Street star Peter Adamson, the film was later produced in conjunction with Dave Kent-Watson but Peter Adamson did not appear in the finished DKW version.
Late in 1986 Cliff produced and starred in Moonstalker - AKA 'Predator' alongside Cordelia Roche and his old friend Brian in the role as 'Bager', the Psycho killer of the film. This film was shot by David Tattersall (Director of Photography - DOP) - David then went on to eventually become the DOP on The Green Mile, Con Air, Star Wars 1 and 2, The Young Indiana Jones and most recently The Day The Earth Stood Still.
Cliff took a short break in December 1985 and January 1986 when he was invited to join his friend Brian in Iceland, this is where Brian was co-producing a play, Trafford Tanzi with Jon Paul Baldwinsson of the Icelandic National Theatre. It was there that Cliff met Brian's old friend and 4 time World's Strongest Man, [Jon Pall Sigmarsson]. More information is on the web site www.bs-v.tv which is the official website of one Cliff's closest friends through the 1980s and into the 1990s, Brian Sterling-Vete; Cliff's other great friend Stuart Hurst should also be consulted as he also worked super-closely with Cliff right through to the very end.
When Cliff and Brian returned to the UK, Cliff set to producing The Eye of Satan (1987) in which Cliff plays a mercenary with satanic powers alongside glamorous co-star Ginette Gray, Tokyo Sunrise with Director Robert Foster in 1988 and Firestar: First Contact (1991) in which Cliff and Oliver Tobias battle alien monsters with a superb performance from Stuart Hurst.
After working on Tokyo Sunrise with Robert Foster and Brian Sterling-Vete, Cliff appeared in several special interest films produced by his friend Brian on the MajorVision label (now on DVD) these included 'The Power to Win, 'The Ultimate Self Defence' and 'Fitness Over Forty'
The pioneering feature films, some shot on super-low-budgets and mostly filmed in and around Manchester, continued until his premature death from a heart attack in 1993. Since that time the films produced by Cliff together with his production team and the regular members of 'the cast' have been honoured by the British Film Institute and in Julian Granger's book.
- Coronation Street (mid-1960s) ... Extra
- Tuxedo Warrior (1981–82) ... Chaser
- GBH (1982) ... Donovan
- Mason’s War (1982–83)
- Target Eve Island (1983, uncompleted) (retitled as Operation Urgent Fury)
- Adventures of Red Rooster (1984) (unreleased TV sitcom)
- The Ibiza Connection (1984) ... Wolf Svenson
- Harrising Moments (1985, uncompleted)
- Moonstalker (1986)
- The Blind Side of God (1987) ... Johnny Zero
- The Eye of Satan (1987) ... Kane
- Assassinator (1988) ... Devlin
- Tokyo Sunrise (1988, uncompleted) ... Johnny Zero
- GBH2 Lethal Impact (1991) ... Steve Donovan
- Bad Weekend (1991) ... Hawk
- Firestar First Contact (1992) ... John Trooper
Peter Reno Albums
- “Z-Patrol” (1967 De Wolfe Music; with Reg Tilsley)
- "Inter City" (1967 De Wolfe; with John Reids, Jack Trombey)
- "Bossalena" (1967 De Wolfe, with Keith Papworth and Edward Ward)
- "Mini-Skirt" (1967 De Wolfe, with Les Reed, Reg Tilsley)
- There’s a World Going On (1967 De Wolfe, with Reg Tilsley and others)
- "Lucky Me" (1967 De Wolfe, track ‘intimate’ only)
- “Traveling Light” (1967 De Wolfe)
- "Polaris" (1967 De Wolfe)
- “For the Young” (19?? De Wolfe: with John Reids)
- “Big City Story” (1968, De Wolfe)
- “More Electric Banana” (1968, De Wolfe) (songs “Street Girl” “Love, Dance and Sing” only)
- “Inherit the Wind” (1968, De Wolfe)
- “Colours” (1969, De Wolfe)
- “Blue Pacific” (1969, De Wolfe)
- "Loony Tunes" (1969, De Wolfe)
- “TV Suite Vol 2” (De Wolfe 1970, with Johnny Hawksworth)
- "Sweet Chariot and Friends" (1970, De Wolfe)
- "Key Largo" (De Wolfe 1970, with Reg Tilsley)
- "Tilsley Orchestral 9" (1970, De Wolfe with Reg Tilsley and D Bradford)
- “Sunspots” (De Wolfe, 1971 with Johnny Hawksworth)
- “Sit Back” (Hudson music 1971)
- “Illinois” (De Wolfe 1971)
- “Alibi” (De Wolfe Music 1971 with Johnny Hawksworth)
- “Restless Woman” (De Wolfe 1971)
- “Times Two” (De Wolfe 1971, with Keith Papworth)
- “Afro-Rock” (De Wolfe 1971, as Vecchio)
- “Native Rhymes” (De Wolfe 1972)
- Here and there (De Wolfe 1972)
- Meatball Jack (De Wolfe 1972)
- "Wheel of Fortune" (1972 De Wolfe, with Reg Tilsley)
- "Great Day" (1972 De Wolfe, with Simon Haseley)
- “Quartet of Modern Jazz Vol.2” (1972, De Wolfe)
- “Tete a Tete” (1972, De Wolfe with Reg Wale, Simon Haseley)
- “City Scene” (De Wolfe 1972 with Keith Papworth and Jack Trombey)
- “Junction” (De Wolfe 1973)
- "Synthesizer Contact" (De Wolfe 1973)
- “Syndrome” (De Wolfe 1973 with Reg Tilsley)
- "Hot Breath" (1974 Hudson Records, with Reg Tilsley)
- "Super Ride" (1974 De Wolfe, with Barry Stoller)
- Twemlow, Cliff (1981). The Tuxedo Warrior : Tales of a Mancunian Bouncer. City Major Press.
- Cliff Twemlow at the Internet Movie Database
- early eighties articles about Twemlow and the GBH film
- british video cover of GBH
- Steve Powell's Cliff Twemlow page
- article about the unmade film of 'The Pike'
- article about the second unmade film of 'The Pike'
- Steve Powell interview about Cliff