1962 Mike Clifford – Close To Cathy
Mike Clifford was born in Los Angeles in 1949. His father played trumpet for a living. By the time he turned 15, Mike already sang in nightclubs in the area.
In 1959, Mike turned sixteen and released two singles on Liberty Records. Neither of them charted nationally. His first single, Should I, featured vocals from Patience and Prudence, who had hits in 1956 with Gonna Get Along Without Ya Now and Tonight You Belong To Me. Eddie Cochran played guitar on the record.
Helen and John Noga managed Johnny Mathis. Mike’s singing impressed Helen, and she worked with him until he was polished enough to appear on the Ed Sullivan show. Her hard work got Mike a recording contract with Columbia Records.
Lawrence Welk had a chart-topping hit with the single Calcutta in early 1961. The album with the same name included a song Welk co-wrote named Bombay. A third writer added lyrics and Columbia released a single of the song recorded by Mike. The background music on the records closely resembled Calcutta. While the record did not attract much attention in the US, it became a hit in Venezuela and Mike appeared on his own special in that country.
Mike signed with United Artists Records in 1961. The company assigned Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller to produce his next recordings. The first single from the team became his biggest hit, Close To Cathy. The record reached #12 on the Hot 100 in 1962.
Dick Clark interviewed Mike on American Bandstand and hired him as a part of the Dick Clark Caravan Of Stars in 1964 and 1965.
Leiber and Stoller also produced Mike’s next single, but What To Do With Laurie only reached #67 on the Hot 100 in early 1963. Mike had one last single spend a week at #96 and that was his last visit to the Hot 100.
Mike has continually worked in the entertainment field up to the present time. He appeared in the film Village of the Giants and sang theme songs for other films. He played the role of Johnny Angel in the first national tour of Grease. From time to time, Mike has recorded commercials and appeared in oldies shows.
In 2017, Mike began producing songs and videos and began posting new recordings. He and Sandy Zacky recorded a tribute to Doris Day with the song Sentimental Journey in 2019 that reached the top ten of the Reverb Nation LA Jazz Music Chart in 2020.
Mike can be followed on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MikeCliffordsWonderfulWorld/
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