Sunday, 2 August 2015

ANYONE WHO HAD A HEART: RIP CILLA BLACK

She strongly denied that she was ever the hat-check girl at Liverpool's sweaty little dungeon otherwise known as the Cavern. George Martin has always agreed with her. Whether she was or not, she was in the right place at the right time. Brian Epstein introduced her to the producer, and left him with the problem of what to do with, as George described it, 'her thin, rock-and-roll screecher of a voice, with its piercing nasal sound.' Finding songs for Cilla, he feared, would be hard work.

Yet find them they did. The Beatles' 'Love of the Loved', which flopped. Burt Bacharach's and Hal David's 'Anyone Who Had a Heart', which scored a bull's eye and infuriated Dionne Warwick, whose version fell short. 'You're My World', originally recorded in Italian by Umberto Bindi, baked it. 'Alfie', another Bacharach/David gem, was the icing. Cilla has been a star ever since. Now she's gone. 

I hadn't seen her since the Nordoff Robbins Silver Clef lunch in London in 2010, at which she presented an award. We invited her to join the Vintage TV crew as regular star presenter. She was keen. Her manager son Robert wasn't (he knew more than we did.) On the 'vintage' theme, we talked about about old age. She admitted that she was finding personal deterioration the biggest challenge of her life. More of a struggle, she said, than overcoming the grief that consumed her following the death of her husband Bobby in 1999. She didn't want to live to a ripe old age and suffer a  painful death like her mother. She'd always thought that seventy-five was a 'respectable age to go.'

She fell three years short. Knowing we loved her so.


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