Remembering Cilla Black: 9 Career Highlights of the first lady of Brit Pop
After years waiting around on Mathew Street alone, John Lennon will be joined by another giant of music this week in the bronze form of Cilla Black.
From working-class roots in 1950’s Liverpool, Cilla Black enjoyed a career in music and television spanning more than 50 years and it all began right on the spot where her statue is to be unveiled on Monday 16th January at 11am.
Commissioned and donated to Liverpool by Cilla’s son’s, the statue, which captures Cilla the singer in all her early 60’s glory, is being made at Castle Fine Arts Foundry, just up the road at the Baltic Triangle and will stand next to The Cavern where Cilla worked as a coat-check girl before her rise to stardom.
Cilla Black (she even had her name changed by a music paper…and just rolled with it) had a huge impact on the music industry, she was the first solo, female artist on Brian Epstein’s books back in the 60’s thanks to sheer determination, fighting spirit and of course her unmistakable voice.
Whether you’ve known her since her debut single, or as the hilarious tv show host or fiercely loyal friend, here’s just 10 of Cilla’s many career highlights that prove her status as a legend.
1 – Starting Out
For all those toughing it out through auditions and trying their hand at The Voice UK and X Factor, take a leaf from Cilla Black’s book. She fluffed her first audition with Brian Epstein but bounced right back and got her recording contract after a knock out performance of ‘Bye, Bye Blackbird’ at the Blue Angel Club in 1963.
2 – No Ordinary Girl
Labelled as another girl ‘suitable for office work’ at school age, Cilla worked her way up from the bottom and her admirable determination saw her rise from The Cavern coat-check girl to playing an integral part of the ‘Mersey Sound’ movement, singing with the likes of The Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers and The Fourmost, to name a few.
3 – Record Breaker
This one is huge. Cilla recorded and released ‘Anyone Who Had a Heart’ in January 1964, and despite it being a cover (previously a hit for Dionne Warwick) it was her first number 1 and still to this day, is the biggest selling single of all time by a British female recording artist.
4 – 21
With follow-up single, ‘You’re My World’ storming to the top of the charts, Cilla had scored two consecutive number one’s before her 21st birthday and was blazing a trail in the states as part of the British Invasion too.
5 – Lorra Lorra Laughs
Cilla could turn her hand to anything. With 17 consecutive Top 40 hits under her belt she decided to try her hand at television and quickly became one of Britain’s top rated tv entertainers. if you’re an 80’s kid you’ll likely remember Saturday nights in front of the telly watching Blind Date and Surprise, Surprise?
6 – A New Wave
Cilla’s influence is still very much alive in and around the city today. Covering ‘Step Inside Love’ at Liverpool Loves Festival, singer and one to watch, Eleanor Nelly smashed her performance to rapturous applause. Cilla’s stage costumes memorabilia also feature in the upcoming British Music Experience, housed at the iconic Cunard Building and if that’s not enough, Cilla’s 60’s hits are of course part of The Cavern 60th Anniversary celebration show at The Philharmonic Hall this weekend and the LIMF Summer Jam in July.
7 – Queen of the Boards
Cilla came out of retirement to thrill and delight audiences at the Empire Theatre, Lime Street in December 2008 and wrapped up Liverpool’s Capital of Culture celebrations in the only way she knew how, suspended from the theatre ceiling, dressed as the Fairy Godmother, crying with laughter!
Close friend and fellow panto star, Pete Price remembers Cilla fondly, and recalls her fun-loving nature, he said: “I remember one night after panto Cilla agreeing to come out for a drink after the show ‘Oh I’ll come for one’ she said. We had a ball and left Garlands at quarter to seven the following morning with her coat on inside out, she loved a party and was a remarkable woman”.
8 – Step Inside Love
Extending her influence on popular culture even further, 2014 saw TV series ‘Cilla’ featuring the fabulous Sheridan Smith filmed on location in and around Liverpool and gained critical acclaim and viewing figures of more than 8 million! We all love a success story, Liverpool girl done good!
9 – Still Setting the Pace
Cilla was the recipient of the first ever Royal Television Society ‘Legends’ Award recognising her 50 years in the television business. Alongside a special BAFTA award for her outstanding contribution to entertainment, Cilla’s career was still setting the standard and her warmth and kindness inspiring others.