b. Clifford Thomas Ward, 10 February 1946, Kidderminster, Worcestershire, England, d. 18 December 2001, Kidderminster, Worcestershire, England. Ward typified the early 70s bedsitter singer-songwriter with a series of albums that were at best delightful and at worst mawkish. Ward left grammar school before A-levels to work as a clerk, but by 1962 was fronting local beat group Cliff Ward and the Cruisers. The group changed their name to Martin Raynor and the Secrets and made their recording debut for EMI Records in 1965, before recording several more tracks as the Secrets for CBS Records.
In 1967 Ward enrolled at Worcester teacher training college to study English and divinity, after which he taught at Bromsgrove high school. His debut album appeared on disc jockey John Peel’s brave-but-doomed Dandelion Records label in 1972. His second album and his first release for Charisma Records, Home Thoughts, proved to be his finest work and gave him wider recognition. Ward constructed each song as a complete story sometimes with great success. The beautiful ‘Gaye’ became a UK Top 10 hit but surprisingly the stronger ‘Home Thoughts From Abroad’ and the infectious and lyrically excellent ‘Wherewithal’ failed to chart. Mantle Pieces and Escalator contained a similar recipe of more harmless tales like the minor hit ‘Scullery’ with affecting lyrics like; ‘You’re my picture by Picasso, you’d brighten up any gallery’. Ward’s refusal to tour and promote his songs did not help endear the singer to his record company, however, and he switched to the Phonogram Records label for 1975’s No More Rock ‘N’ Roll.
In later years although still recording the occasional album and still reluctant to perform live, Ward received kudos as a songwriter with his material being recorded by artists such as Cliff Richard, Art Garfunkel and Justin Hayward. He was struck down with multiple sclerosis in 1987 and his health rapidly deteriorated. He managed to record 1991’s vinyl-only album Laugh It Off, and friends and colleagues pieced together two more albums of new songs, out-takes and demos to give the ailing Ward some financial assistance. He finally succumbed to pneumonia in December 2001.