Cilla Black passed away at her home in Spain this weekend, sparking tributes from across the world of TV and music. Having fronted Saturday evening mainstays Blind Date and Surprise Surprise for more than 15 years apiece, it’s no surprise (surprise) that our Cilla will be remembered largely for her contribution to the world of TV. What we shouldn’t forget, however, is that way before she found her niche helping hapless daters choose between contestants one, two and three, Cilla was right at the centre of the swinging ’60s and had some pretty cool music cred to boot. Here are five impressive facts you might not know about the star that’ll help you go back to Black and do a little reassessing…
On her first audition, The Beatles were her backing band
As far as recommendations, you don’t get much better in the music world than The Beatles personally rallying to help get you signed. Helping out their old Liverpool pal (Cilla even used to cut Ringo’s mum’s hair), John Lennon cajoled manager Brian Epstein into auditioning the singer. On the day, The Beatles themselves backed her – but then cocked it up by playing her audition song ‘Summertime’ in the wrong key. And people call them the greatest musicians of our time…
Morrissey loved her, and The Smiths broke up because of her… sort of
While there were obviously a host of other elements also at play in The Smiths’ demise, the popular piece of indie folklore goes that the band broke up after a particularly heated argument about a Cilla song. Long term fan Morrissey – who paid tribute to the star online following her passing – wanted to cover Cilla’s ‘Work Is A Four Letter Word’, Johnny Marr got pissed off and the rest is history. “That was the last straw, really. I didn’t form a group to perform Cilla Black songs,” Marr later said. The band did, however, release the cover as a B-side to 1987 single ‘Girlfriend In A Coma’, so Cilla probably wasn’t totally to blame.
She used to work at legendary Liverpool venue The Cavern Club
There are a handful of venues that have become truly iconic over the years, but Liverpool’s Cavern Club is one of them. At the heart of the Merseybeat scene that birthed The Beatles and Gerry and the Pacemakers, it also played host to tiny gigs from The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Who and more. And who’s that young whippersnapper in the cloakroom? It’s Cilla!
Elvis had her record in his personal jukebox collection
As if it wasn’t enough scoring a number one, Cilla’s 1964 single ‘You’re My World’ also made it into The King’s own private collection at his Graceland home. Not bad.
Her debut single was written by Lennon and McCartney
The two acts’ friendship stayed strong throughout, and Cilla would go on to sing a number of Lennon/ McCartney tracks including hit single ‘Step Inside Love’, which was written especially for her by the pair. 1963 debut ‘Love Of The Loved’ was also a John and Paul number, which is a pretty decent way to kick off your career.