Clifford T. Ward
Clifford T. Ward died aged fifty-seven of Pneumonia on 18th December, 2001 in a hospital at Kidderminster, Worcestershire, U.K. In 1987 he had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis but continued to record and write songs while living at home, cared for by his wife, Pat. In 1994, Clifford was interviewed by a local newspaper, the Wolverhampton Express & Star in which he said that he had not and will not come to terms with the illness and there were times — usually quite late at night — when he felt almost normal again.
Clifford recorded his eleventh and final album, "Julia and Other New Stories" whilst crawling on hands and feet 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.
Clifford T Ward was born in Stourport-on-Severn, Worcestershire,U.K. and was the fifth child of Kathleen and Frank Ward. He had one older sister and three older brothers. Clifford 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.
In 1962, shortly after leaving school and supporting himself with a series of clerical jobs, Clifford T Ward formed a beat band called 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 Clifford T Ward wrote "Home Thoughts from Abroad". In the mid 1960s and after several member changes, the group was renamed Martin Raynor and The Secrets, with Clifford T 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 with ten of the songs penned by Clifford T Ward himself.
In 1968, following the demise of The Secrets, Clifford T Ward decided he needed to get "a real job", and so spent the following three years at a teacher training college, ultimately finding employment at North Bromsgrove High School, teaching English and drama. The children heard singing on Clifford T 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, Clifford T Ward went on to have a hit with the single "Gaye". It sold over a million copies worldwide and reached number eight in the UK Singles Chart in July nineteen seventy-three.
Following the success of "Gaye", Clifford T 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 1973, performing "Gaye" on Top of the Pops. In January 1974 Clifford T Ward entered the singles chart again at number 37 with "Scullery", a track from his third album Mantle Pieces.
Clifford T Ward's manager in the early 1970s, Clive Selwood commented on Clifford T Ward's lack of touring as contributing to his limited success and that Clifford should have been a major, mega star. He had the hits, but he wouldn't perform publicly.