Cliff DeYoung was part of the band Clear Light which formed in 1966. The group had appeared in the movie The President’s Analyst after they lost their lead singer. In the film, singer Barry McGuire played their lead vocalist. Shortly thereafter, Cliff joined the group as their new lead singer and the band recorded their first (and only) album. The group shared a manager with the Doors, which helped them get a few gigs as the warm-up act for the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin. Alas, their album and single were hardly noticed, and the group broke up while trying to record their second album. Several members of the group were lucky enough to move on to play with other, more successful groups (especially Dallas Taylor, who went on to play drums for Crosby, Stills, and Nash).
Cliff graduated from California State University, Los Angeles, in 1968, and recast himself as an actor. He moved to New York City and appeared in the soap opera The Secret Storm. He then landed roles in the Broadway production of Hair and later the play Sticks and Bones. The latter led to a role in the film version of the play, and from there it was a short hop to starring in the television movie Sunshine in 1973.
It would never have occurred to me to watch Sunshine since it’s about a man coping with the death of his wife from bone cancer shortly after their daughter was born. No doubt Cliff was selected for the role in part because he could actually sing and play guitar. His version of My Sweet Lady in the film was released as a single and charted as high as #17 in the Spring of 1974. John Denver had recorded the song on an album in 1971, but it was not released as a single until a few years after Cliff’s version (and John’s did not do as well!)
The movie featured no less than seven songs written by John Denver. The film was clearly named after one of the songs, Sunshine On My Shoulders. It was, sadly, inspired by the true story of a woman who left recordings for her daughter while she was dying. If you enjoy that sort of sadness, there is a version of the song that includes a voice-over from the dying wife.
The movie was followed by a 1975 television show set three years later that lasted only 13 episodes.
The movie and television series were followed by another television movie in 1977 (Sunshine Christmas) which was clearly a cheerier time. It may not have had as many John Denver tunes, but it did have a dancing dog. Cliff didn’t have any hit records released from that film (but John Denver’s version of My Sweet Lady did finally get released and charted as high as #32).
Cliff continued to act in an endless series of television shows and movies, appearing in a film as recently as 2019.