Sir Cliff Richard is “glad” he never broke America.

The 80-year-old singer admitted it used to “bother” him that he never had a big fanbase in the US but these days, he’s thankful for that because it means he can go unrecognised when he’s out there.

He said: “I never broke America – when I was young that used to bother me but now I’m glad that I never did because I can walk around there in peace and quiet.

“My US label weren’t bothered about releasing ‘I’m Nearly Famous’ [in 1975], so Elton put it out in the US on his Rocket label and ‘Devil Woman’, the single taken from it, went top 10 there.”

Elton’s decision to release the album for Cliff and the ‘Young Ones’ hitmaker’s desire to see it do well saw the Christian crooner landed with a new nickname.

He explained: “Elton likes calling his male friends by female names – he always calls Rod Stewart ‘Phyllis’ and he called me ‘Silvia Disc’ because he said I was always ringing his management office to ask if my record had gone silver yet.

“Is that true? I couldn’t possibly comment.”

Cliff shot to fame when he was just 17 and he “loved” the attention he received.

He told OK! magazine: “It was incredible. One day I had a boring job as a credit control clerk in the company where my dad worked. I hated it.

“I was also singing part-time in a skiffle group but skiffle didn’t really do it for me. So, I left and formed a rock’n’roll band.

“We got a record deal and wrote a song, ‘Move It’, and it went crazy.

“Suddenly I was on TV and radio and doing shows up and down the country to thousands of fans going crazy – and I was still 17.

“I couldn’t walk down the street without screaming girls chasing me. I loved it.”