Clifford T. Ward
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Clifford T. Ward
|Birth name||Clifford Thomas Ward|
|Born||10 February 1944|
Stourport-on-Severn, Worcestershire, England
|Died||18 December 2001 (aged 57)|
Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire, England
Ward's 1973 album Home Thoughts remains his best known recording, and he had hit singles with songs such as "Gaye" and "Scullery". His reluctance to tour in support of recorded work may have affected his chances of more substantial mainstream success.
Born in Stourport-on-Severn, Worcestershire, Ward was the fifth child of Kathleen and Frank Ward, a carpet factory worker, and he had one older sister and three older brothers. He was educated at Stourport secondary modern school and King Charles grammar school at Kidderminster. He met his future wife, Pat, at school when she was 13 years old, and he 14. At school he spent some time as a choir boy. They married when he was 17 and she 16, after Pat became pregnant with the first of their four children: Debbie, Martin, Sam and Polly.
They initially lived in Castle Road, then Stourbridge Road in Kidderminster, for several years and both were active in raising funds for cerebral palsy, a condition their daughter Debbie had from birth. He was also an English teacher for about a year and a half at North Bromsgrove High School.
In 1962, shortly after leaving school and supporting himself with a series of clerical jobs, Ward formed a beat band Cliff Ward and the Cruisers, which won the 1963 Midland Band of the Year contest in Birmingham. The band was popular in Birmingham and also in demand at American Army bases in France. It was during this time abroad that Ward wrote "Home Thoughts from Abroad" (a song that would later appear on his second solo album and also as the B-side of "Gaye"). In the mid 1960s and after several member changes, the group was renamed Martin Raynor and The Secrets, with Ward in the role of the elusive Raynor. The fictitious name was soon dropped and the band continued on as Raynor's Secrets, and went on to tour around Britain and France, achieving moderate success. Along the way, six singles were recorded by the group (ten of the songs penned by Ward himself), though these made little impact.
In 1967, following the demise of The Secrets, Ward decided he needed to get "a real job". He enrolled at Worcester Teacher Training College and subsequently taught at North Bromsgrove High School teaching English and drama. One of his pupils was the future wife of Sting, Trudie Styler, and another was Underworld singer Karl Hyde. The children heard singing on Ward's early albums were from North Bromsgrove High School.
In his spare time, he continued songwriting and recorded his first solo album Singer Songwriter, released in 1972 on Dandelion Records (a label formed by the disc jockey John Peel) just before it went into liquidation. As a result, the album received little media coverage and went largely unnoticed. Signing a new recording contract with Charisma Records, Ward went on to have a hit with the single "Gaye". It sold over a million copies worldwide and reached number 8 in the UK Singles Chart in July 1973.
In July 1973, following the success of "Gaye", Ward's second album Home Thoughts achieved healthy sales and reached number 40 in the UK Albums Chart. At this point, wanting to concentrate on music full-time, he gave up the teaching profession. He made a rare public appearance in July, performing "Gaye" on Top of the Pops. In January 1974 Ward entered the singles chart again at number 37 with "Scullery", a track from his third album Mantle Pieces.
Subsequent singles, notably "No More Rock 'n' Roll", "Jigsaw Girl", "Ocean of Love" and "I Got Lost Tonight" (written by the US singer-songwriter Tim Moore, one of the very rare occasions when he recorded outside material) were loved by BBC Radio presenters and programmers but Ward never made it into the UK chart again. It was said that he would have had more commercial success were it not for his dislike of touring, public appearances, interviews and photo shoots. "The Best is Yet to Come", from the album Both of Us, enjoyed success when covered by Justin Hayward, and his songs were recorded by Cliff Richard, Jack Jones, Art Garfunkel, and Judy Collins.
Ward's manager in the early 1970s, Clive Selwood commented on Ward's lack of touring as contributing to his lack of success: "Clifford should have been a major, major star - he had hits, but he simply wouldn't perform publicly."
In 1987, Ward was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). He continued to record and write songs while living at home, cared for by his wife, Pat. In 1994, Ward was interviewed by a local newspaper, the Wolverhampton Express & Star. He told reporter Aidan Goldstraw: "I have not and will not come to terms with this illness. There are times — usually quite late at night — when I'm almost normal again. But unless they find a cure for this dreadful MS, then I don't see a future".
Ward recorded his eleventh and what would be his last new album, Julia and Other New Stories, crawling on all fours into his home-based recording studio to finish it. At around the same time, a stage musical, Shattered World, was produced as a tribute to him, based on his life and his battle against MS. Half of the songs were Ward's own, and half were numbers written by others about him.
|Title||Label||Original release date|
|Singer-Songwriter||Dandelion Records||September 1972|
|Home Thoughts||Charisma Records||June 1973|
|Mantle Pieces||Charisma Records||December 1973|
|Escalator||Charisma Records||April 1975|
|No More Rock 'n' Roll||Philips||December 1975|
|New England Days||Mercury||October 1977|
|Both of Us||Philips||March 1984|
|Sometime Next Year||Tembo Records||July 1986|
|Gaye and Other Stories||Virgin Records||October 1990|
|Laugh It Off||Ameless Records||February 1992|
|Julia and Other New Stories (demos and out-takes)||Graduate Records||February 1995|
|Hidden Treasures||RP Media||August 1998|
|Bittersweet||RP Media||May 1999|
|The Ways of Love||RP Media||May 2000|
|Anthology||Cherry Red Records||June 2002|
|This Was Our Love||Cherry Red Records||May 2003|
|Work in Progress||The Friends Of Clifford T. Ward||October 2003|
|Secrets & Sidetracks||The Friends of Clifford T. Ward||2004|
|Studio Sessions (limited edition)||Cherry Red Records||September 2005|
|Change Of Heart||Cherry Red Records||September 2009|
|The Kinver Sessions 1968-1972||Beaujangle||2009|
|Path Through The Forest - The Secret World of Clifford T. Ward||Wooden Hill||2009|
|The Best Is Yet To Come: The Collection||Press Play/Cherry Red Records||2013|
|Infatuation: Singles and Demos 1966-68 - The Secrets ft. Clifford T. Ward||Grapefruit Records||2015|
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London, UK: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 591. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "Clifford T Ward". The Guardian. 2001-12-22. Retrieved 2016-05-18.
- "Clifford T Ward". The BBC. 2013-11-13. Retrieved 2016-05-18.
- "Clifford T. Ward | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-04-09.
- "TV Pop Diaries Home". Tvpopdiaries.co.uk. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
- Dave Thompson. "Mantle Pieces - Clifford T. Ward | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-04-09.
- "'Home Thoughts From Abroad'". BBC Radio 2.
- "Songwriter Clifford T Ward dies". BBC News. 2001-12-19. Retrieved 2015-04-09.