The Drifters / Cliff Richard / Cliff Richard & the Drifters

Living Doll

Song Review by

Composed by Lionel Bart, one of the undisputed godfathers of British rock & roll despite his own leanings towards more theatrical productions, "Living Doll" has been described (by author Nik Cohn) as "by far the most influential single of the [British 1950s]. It was cute and sweet and bouncy. It was tuneful and ingenuous." It was also, according to Cliff Richard, who took it to number one in the U.K. in 1959, "chronic. "Living Doll" changed the whole course of my career. I parted company with the greasy-haired rock & rollers and began attracting the mums. And that's how it stayed."

Originally written for singer Duffy Power, before it was transplanted into Richard's movie debut, Serious Charge, the song was, ironically, initially envisioned as an up-tempo light rocker and appears as such in the movie. It was only when producer Norrie Paramor suggested it become Richard's next single that the singer insisted on rearranging it into the now familiar form. He later revealed that he hated the fast version even more than he loathed the slow one.

Either way, it was a wise decision. "Living Doll" topped the U.K. chart, Richard's first British number one, with sales in excess of a million. It also became his first U.S. hit, reaching number 30 that fall. Today, it remains one of Richard's most instantly recognizable numbers, courtesy also of an anarchic revival he undertook in 1986 with the comedy troupe the Young Ones. Recorded in aid of the Comic Relief charity, this version, too, topped the British chart.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
At the Movies, 1959-1974 1996 EMI Music Distribution 2:38
The Singles Collection 2002 EMI Music Distribution 2:39