Musically self-taught, Cliff composed music using what he referred to as the ‘De Dum Da’ Principal. “I had discovered that with the aid of a tape recorder, I could assemble or compose lyric and tune. My voice would simulate orchestral sounds, giving me an insight as to how it could be arranged. God, the noises were appalling.
Um Te Ta, Deeple, Dum Rump Pa Pa! I was in hysterics listening to the playback.” he later claimed in his autobiography. Most of his Peter Reno material was written for the company De Wolfe Music and used in television (Public Eye, Rutland Weekend Television, Quennie’s Castle, The Sweeney) and advertisements. One of his songs “Cause I’m a Man”, written in 1967, later became famous when it was used in the film Dawn of the Dead. A particularly lucrative composition was “Distant Hills”, which was used as the end credit theme of the programme Crown Court from 1972 to the shows end in 1984.
“Distant Hills” would also prove to be Cliff’s only brush with the charts when it was used as the B side to Eye Level- the theme from Van der Valk- a single that enjoyed four weeks at number one in 1973. The same year however Cliff would encounter legal problems due to a song of his - recorded by Salena Jones - bearing the name ‘Live and Let Die’. Though released shortly before Paul McCartney recorded a song by the same name for the eponymous James Bond film, a court case was instigated by the publishers of the McCartney song and an injunction slammed on the Twemlow record. Twemlow’s defence was that it was simply an innocent example of two songs bearing the same title, unfortunately a “James Bond” style pose on the picture sleeve threw doubt on this, and the court found in favour of McCartney’s people.
The Twemlow/Salena Jones record was subsequently withdrawn. Unfortunately such problems within the music industry, combined with bad business deals, legal hassles and a divorce from childhood sweetheart Georgina Curly meant Twemlow's music success was short lived and he was eventually declared bankrupt. One of Twemlow’s songs from this period “Once” from the album Restless Woman (1971), claims “Once I owned a mansion/ Money couldn’t buy / People used to stop and say / There goes quite a guy/ Now I’m left with nothing/ And I have no place to go/ For when you’re down/ Nobody wants to know”. In the mid-1970s Twemlow took a variety of odd jobs, including a delivery driver for Lomas and Baynes, a company that specialised in supplying equipment for offices, he also worked for a time as a ferryman on the Manchester Ship Canal in Irlam. After undergoing an extreme fitness régime to get back into shape (Twemlow’s exercise sessions - which included jogging with lead weights tied to his legs - were the stuff of local legend) Twemlow eventually returned to work as a nightclub bouncer, taking a 70 pounds a week job, at Peter Stringfellow's 'Millionaire' nightclub in Manchester's West Mosley Street - this was the real name of the 'The Omega' club referred to in the book, 'The Tuxedo Warrior'.
He was married to Judith, who worked as a secretary for a Manchester firm of solicitors and they lived in Whitefield on the north side of the city. In the early 1980s he wrote his autobiography The Tuxedo Warrior, which documented his career in the music industry and as a bouncer. In the book's final chapter Twemlow is hospitalised after a fight in a nightclub leaves him with a fractured skull and his family ask him to retire or seek an alternative lifestyle. He refuses and returns to being a Tuxedo Warrior, the book closes with the statement “it is far better to be a resident on the brink of hell, than spend a lifetime in a relentless pursuit of a mythical heaven”. Tuxedo Warrior was turned into a film in 1982, however the film chooses to ignore all aspects of Cliff’s life and instead merely uses him as a character in a fictional narrative. In the film Cliff (John Wyman) is an ex-bouncer from Manchester who has opened a bar in South Africa and becomes involved in diamond smuggling, as well as being torn between two women, an American free spirit (Holly Palance) and a British compulsive gambler (Carol Royle).
Confusingly the real Twemlow appears in the film as supporting character ‘Chaser’. The only other character in the film taken from the book, in real life Chaser, r.n. Barney Brogan, was an American bouncer who had a violent confrontation with Cliff in 1950s Morecambe. In the book he is described as “a big burly American, around 5ft 11ins.
Whose face had taken more second prizes than a blind tomcat in a bowling alley….. Chaser was big and evil.” Encouraged by the success of the Tuxedo Warrior book Twemlow would go onto write two fiction books for the pulp horror market the Beast of Kane (1983) and The Pike (1982). The Beast of Kane, concerns the Gordon family, who adopt a stray elk-hound that turns out to be “Satan himself, fulfilling an ancient prophecy”. Written in the late 1970s under the title The Dogs of Kane, the book was submitted as a possible film project for Hammer Film Productions but was rejected.
Twemlow then tried to make a film of The Pike, starring Joan Collins, but the budget could not be raised despite Collins’ star power and Twemlow and Collins promoting the film on the BBC’s Look North programme. During the promotion Joan appeared on a BBC TV Tomorrow's World special featuring the innovative and technically advanced mechnaical Pike, made especially for the film. The Mechanical Pike apparently now resides as an exhibit of robotics in Japan In 1982/83 Twemlow acted in, wrote and composed the music score for the movie “GBH”, one of the earliest British films to be shot on videotape. Considered to be far more accurate in depicting Twemlow’s life than the Tuxedo Warrior film, GBH features him as Steve Donovan aka “The Mancunian”, a world weary nightclub bouncer hired to protect a club from a London gang.
The film’s well remembered video cover features a blood splattered Twemlow holding an axe with the tag line “more brutal than The Long Good Friday”. The theme song of the movie, written by Cliff was actually a ballad depiction of how Cliff was in real life, the lyrics "he walks tall with his head held high, before he backs down he would rather die, he's a mean machine, none tougher than, the man, man, man, man-cunian man!" were EXACTLY how Cliff lived his life. To those who REALLY knew him, rather than those who knew him vaguely or claimed to know him; his true friends who lived day by day, shoulder to shoulder with him through the 1980s and into the 1990s saw him live by his words and actually led by example, often daring to venture where others genuinely feared to tread. GBH led to Cliff Twemlow appearing in 12 more movies shot as video features plus a plethora of movie-shorts and MajorVision special interest films. These included Target Eve Island (1993) co-produced with Martin de Rooy in Grenada and Barbados, The Ibiza Connection in 1994 with his close friends [Steve Powell] and Sir Brian Sterling-Vete, in 1985 Cliff worked closely with Brian in an attempt to produce the movie called 'The Blind Side of God' with former Coronation Street star Peter Adamson, the film was later produced in conjunction with Dave Kent-Watson but Peter Adamson did not appear in the finished DKW version. Late in 1986 Cliff produced and starred in Moonstalker - AKA 'Predator' alongside Cordelia Roche and his old friend Brian Sir Brian Sterling-Vete in the role as 'Bager', the Psycho killer of the movie. This movie was shot by David Tattersall (Director of Photography - DOP) - David then went on to eventually become the DOP on The Green Mile, Con Air, Star Wars 1 and 2, The Young Indiana Jones and most recently The Day The Earth Stood Still. Cliff took a short break in December and January 1985 and 1986 when he was invited to join his friend Brian Sir Brian Sterling-Vete in Iceland, this is where Brian was co-producing a play, [Trafford Tanzi] with Jon Paul Baldwinsson of the Icelandic National Theatre.
It was there that Cliff met Brian's old friend and 4 time World's Strongest Man, [Jon Pall Sigmarsson]. More information is on the web site www.bs-v.tv which is the official website of one Cliff's closest friends through the 1980s and into the 1990s, Sir Brian Sterling-Vete; Cliff's other great friend Stuart Hurst should also be consulted as he also worked super-closely with Cliff right through to the very end. When Cliff and Brian Returned to the UK, Cliff set to producing The Eye of Satan (1987) in which Cliff plays a mercenary with satanic powers along side glamerous co-star Ginette Gray, Tokyo Sunrise with Director Robert Foster in 1988 and Firestar: First Contact (1991) in which Cliff and [Oliver Tobias] battle alien monsters with a superb performance from Stuart Hurst. After working on Tokyo Sunrise with Robert Foster and Brian Sterling-Vete, Cliff appeared in several special interest films produced by his friend Brian Sir Brian Sterling-Vete on the MajorVision label (now on DVD) these included 'The Power to Win, 'The Ultimate Self Defence' and 'Fitness Over Forty' The pioneering feature films, some shot on super-low-budgets and mostly filmed in and around Manchester, continued until his premature death from a heart attack in 1993. Since that time the films produced by Cliff together with his production team and the regular members of 'the cast' have been honoured by the [British Film Institute] and in Julian Granger's book. Read more on Last.fm.
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