British songbird Cilla Black, with a deep connection to The Beatles, has died at the age of 72.
“Such a shock to hear about Cilla’s passing,” Paul McCartney tweeted. “She was a lovely girl who infected everyone with her great spirit. From first meeting her as a cloakroom girl at the Cavern in Liverpool, to seeing her many times since, she always had a fun loving dignity that made her a great pleasure to be around.”
Continued the ex-Beatle: “She had a fine distinctive voice and was always a bit of a laugh. It was a privilege to know and love her.”
Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, who wrote his hit song “Photograph” for Black but decided to record it himself, tweeted, “I just heard the news Cilla Black has left us she was a good friend we will all miss her peace to Cilla peace and love to the family.”
With her distinctive red hair, Liverpudlian accent and cheeky, down-to-earth charm, Black was beloved by UK audiences. Born Priscilla Maria Veronica White in Liverpool in 1943, she became closely associated with The Beatles who sparked to her talent when she occasionally sang at the Cavern Club where she worked part-time as a coat-check girl in the early 60s. Her name change from White to Black was the result of a mistake in a British music magazine that Black chose to keep.
Managed at one point by Brian Epstein, her first single, “Love Of The Loved,” was written for her by John Lennon and McCartney. Dubbed a relative failure, it was followed by hit versions of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “Anyone Who Had A Heart” and “You’re My World,” a cover of an Italian original. Both hit No. 1 on the UK charts and had some spins in America, though her fame in the U.S. never came close to her popularity in the UK. Ultimately, she had 11 Top 10 hits on the British charts between 1964 and 1971…
Though Black never had the Stateside success of female peers like Lulu, Dusty Springfield or Petula Clark, she gained some recognition during the 60s British Invasion, appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show and in the 1965 Gerry and the Pacemakers film Ferry ‘Cross the Mersey. U.S. Beatle fans would know her as the Swinging London pal (and early interpreter) of Lennon and McCartney.
McCartney wrote several songs for her: “Love of the Loved” (1963), “It’s For You” (1964), and “Step Inside Love” (1968).