By 1958, the British rock & roll scene was still struggling to escape the shadow of its American counterpart. Neither songwriters not performers seemed capable of breaking the stranglehold; they sang with American accents, they covered American hits. And then Cliff Richard burst onto the scene with "Move It" and the Brits never looked back.
"Move It" was written by Ian Samwell, a guitarist with Richard's backing band, the Drifters, while riding on a London bus. A fierce statement of intent, it mocked the doomsayers then prophesying the death of rock & roll, by asking what they hoped to replace it with -- "ballads and calypsos got nothing on real country music that just drives along." Driven by an electrifying guitar riff from session man Ernie Shears, while the band laid down a tight rockabilly riff, "Move It" was an absolute revelation -- so much so that, when the group cut its first ever single with producer Norrie Paramor, "Move It" was selected as the B-side, more as a sop to the youth market than because the veteran Paramor had any sympathy with its sentiments. The A-side was a cover of Bobby Helms' "Schoolboy Crush."
The record was still new in the stores, however, when DJs took to flipping it over and airing "Move It" and, within days, Columbia had followed suit. "Move It" went on to become Richard's first U.K. hit. British rock & roll was born.