Paul O’Grady leads musician and TV star’s tributes to Cilla Black

Black reported to have died of natural causes at her home in Spain

Stars of TV and music have paid tribute to Cilla Black, who has died at the age of 72.

Black, real name Priscilla White, was found at her villa in Estepona, near Marbella, in Spain. Spanish police have confirmed the identity of the woman to be Black and that an autopsy is being carried out. It is believed she died of natural causes.

Paul O’Grady, a good friend of Black’s and fellow Liverpudlian, led the tributes. “We’ve been friends for nearly 20 years. She’s like my sister,” he told the Liverpool Echo.

“Apart from her hearing, she was alright. We had a week together in Barbados at the beginning of the year and I saw her on my birthday. I thought she was well. “I kept telling her she’d outlive us all. She’s such a strong lady,” O’Grady added.

Other celebrity names who have paid their respects to Black include fellow ITV presenters Philip Schofield, Piers Morgan and Caroline Flack as well as Holly Willoughby, who presents the revived version of Surprise Surprise.

Holly Johnson of Frankie Goes To Hollywood also tweeted his condolences.

The Liverpool-born singer made her name in the 1960s after being championed by The Beatles. She had eleven top ten hits including 1964 Number One singles ‘Anyone Who Had a Heart’ and ‘You’re My World’.

Later in life she would go on to become a much loved TV presenter, helming hit series such as Blind Date and Surprise Surprise.

Her music career began while working at Liverpool’s famous Cavern Club. While employed there she performed alongside acts including Gerry and The Pacemakers and The Beatles. Ringo Starr of the latter band introduced her to Brian Epstein, who soon became her manager.

Black also met her husband Bobby Willis in Liverpool. The pair married in 1969 and remained married until he died of cancer in 1999.