Cilla Black

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Black in 1970

Cilla Black (27 May 1943 – 1 August 2015) was a English television personality, singer and actress. Her birth name was Priscilla Maria Veronica White and she was born in Liverpool. She became known for her songs "Anyone Who Had A Heart" and "You're My World" as well as her long-running TV shows Blind Date (1985-2003) and Surprise Surprise (1984-2001).

In the early 1960s, young Cilla worked at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, where the Beatles often performed, as a hat check girl. She also sang onstage at the Cavern sometimes, backed by the band that was playing at the time. "Swinging Cilla" was well-liked by the Cavern's members and guests.

One day Brian Epstein visited the Cavern to meet the Beatles, and ask about a record they made, so he could sell copies at his family's music store. Stories rose later that Cilla was working, and she first met Epstein when he gave her his hat and coat. Neither one remembered this later, though, and each believed the story was not true.

Epstein's getting to know the Beatles led to his becoming their manager, and with his help, they won a recording contract. The Beatles' talent and work with music producer George Martin led to hit records. Epstein decided to manage other Liverpool musicians. Along with the bands and male singers he signed up, Epstein chose Cilla as his only female performer. He suggested her stage name (changing White to Black), so she and her family could keep their privacy. Martin also agreed to record her, helping choose songs that would showcase her voice.

Cilla became popular first in England and Europe, then in America as the Beatles' music started the "British Invasion" there in 1964. One of her first hits, "Anyone Who Ever Had A Heart", was recorded earlier by American singer Dionne Warwick. The two records sounded similar, even though Cilla had not heard Warwick's version, and a few people believed she had copied it. Both women later also recorded the theme song for the movie Alfie, but they sounded different.

Cilla had other hit records, including "You're My World" and a television theme song, "Step Inside, Love". Epstein enjoyed working with her, even helping her choose wardrobe for performances and looking after her backstage, but personal problems later took away his attention. He passed away in 1967, after a drug overdose.

In time, Cilla Black stopped having hits. She remained popular in England, though, and was a welcome hostess and guest on television. She also made appearances from time to time, to sing the songs from her heyday.

In later years, her health became poor. Arthritis made walking painful, and she was nearly deaf. She admitted that she did not want to live past 75 years old, because she enjoyed her life less and less as she aged.

Black died of a stroke after a fall at her holiday home near Marbella, Spain, on 1 August 2015, aged 72.[1] Her funeral will take place in Liverpool on 20 August 2015.

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