HAPPY NEWS!

After months of rumours and speculation, Cheryl has officially announced she is pregnant! This news has come at the perfect time and it was only a few weeks ago that Beyoncé announced her pregnancy with twins to the world. February is most certainly shaping up to be a fun-filled and heartwarming month.

I am over the moon and absolutely overjoyed at the news of Cheryl’s pregnancy because it has been a long time coming and I am absolutely happy for both Cheryl & Liam Payne! Both of them will most certainly make fantastic parents and to see Cheryl at her happiest makes me and everyone smile. Happiness, love, respect, compassion and care is what matters and I send all of my happiness, love, respect, compassion and care to both Cheryl & Liam Payne.

Congratulations Cheryl & Liam! Both of you will most certainly be wonderful parents and I wish you every ounce of happiness all the way because you are both worth it 🙂

Alex Smithson

© L’Oréal 2017

© The photograph of Cheryl is copyright of L’Oréal. Full photo credit goes to L’Oréal. No Copyright Infringement Intended.

Artistic Interpretation #6 / Prince Rogers Nelson (1993)

As it has been almost a year since we lost the iconic music legend, Prince Rogers Nelson, who passed away on the 21st April 2016, I wanted to take the opportunity to pay tribute to the iconic music legend by drawing for this sixth artistic interpretation.

This is the first Artistic Interpretation for 2017 and I wanted to make sure that Prince Rogers Nelson would be the first musician I would draw this year.

This drawing I’ve produced is inspired on the Greatest Hits album: “The Hits / The B-Sides” that Prince Rogers Nelson released back in 1993, as this Greatest Hits collection spans much of the music he released over the course of his career, given that he was the powerhouse and driving force that defined many generations and helped to inspire so many musicians, also because he was known for releasing so many albums that his back catalogue would be filled to maximum capacity.

Prince’s music defined himself as the iconic music legend he is, and even in death, his music will never grow old, will never become dated but will always remain timeless, as his music is eccentric and changes every time but changes so quickly that you cannot help but appreciate the iconic music legend himself for always being different and not making music that sounds the same.

Below is the completed artistic interpretation I have produced of Prince Rogers Nelson.

prince-rogers-nelson-drawing-tribute-alex-smithson
Prince Rogers Nelson

I’m really pleased with the end result of this artistic interpretation, because I wanted to make sure that this drawing would keep true to the iconic music legend himself. Prince left his mark not just on the music world, but on the entire world, as his music is the reason why so many of the musicians we hear of today are still not just releasing music, but are making the best difference and being the positive changes in this world.

His music has also given so many people around the world, including myself so much to be thankful for and his music, from my perspective, is a message of hope, and that hope can mean you can be yourself and be the positive change you want to see in this world and I feel that by drawing him, he has not only been a positive influence on me, but on all of us.

I want to say this as a way of paying tribute to Prince Rogers Nelson:

“Prince. Your music has been the Sign ‘O’ the Times, Purple Rain came down on us and delighted us and When Doves Cry, you were there to give us all hope and to make sure we were the positive changes this world needs. Your Little Red Corvette sits briskly in heaven and heaven gained an angel. Sometimes it Snows in April, then there is Purple Rain, but you gave us all hope and made us all feel okay to be ourselves, so thank you for everything, Prince Rogers Nelson.”

If you want to pay your respects to Prince Rogers Nelson almost a year after the iconic music legend departed from Planet Earth, then please leave a comment below in his memory.

Alex Smithson

Remembering David Bowie: One Year On / The Thin White Duke. Our Starman. A Music Legend. (1947 – 2016)

As today marks exactly one year since the Thin White Duke, David Bowie, passed away at the age of 69 from liver cancer, I wanted to pay my full respects to the Starman by drawing David Bowie, also because the 8th January 2017 would have marked his 70th Birthday. I also drew David Bowie sporting the famous Aladdin Sane Lightning Bolt as he released his 25th and last ever studio album, Blackstar, on his 69th birthday.

It feels unreal, to think it was a year ago today is surreal yet hard to believe, because never did I think the time would fly so fast. On this day last year, I was told the news early in the morning that he had actually died and I was shocked and devastated, but fast forward to today and you still can’t quite believe that our Starman, the Thin White Duke, had passed away.

He is a music legend who was taken from us too soon, as he had so much more to offer, but his 25th and final studio album, Blackstar, was classed as “…a parting gift,” to his fans, which just goes to show that he not only wanted to go out with a bang, but that he would really prove that his music is timeless, that it will never date and will always be listened to, which is what made David Bowie not just a music legend, but a cultural icon given that he always had the eccentric change of image that would define and inspire many generations.

I drew the lightning bolt below his right eye (appears on the left by how you see it), as the blue and red lightning bolt was featured on the iconic album, Aladdin Sane. Although I haven’t been around long enough to truly appreciate his music, I saw him as an inspiration to me and to us all, because he made it okay for us to be ourselves, and to not care what societies and generations think of us and I will never forget that. Let’s Dance, Life on Mars & Ashes to Ashes always give me goosebumps because it’s not just the Aladdin Sane Lightning Bolt that caught my attention, but his right eye’s pupil was blue, which is what made him the iconic music legend he truly is. Even in death, he will always be remembered as the iconic music legend that made it okay for everyone to accept themselves and to be themselves regardless of who they are.

David Bowie as Aladdin Sane.
David Bowie as Aladdin Sane.

I wanted to say this as a way of paying tribute to David Bowie:

David Bowie. Our Thin White Duke. Our Starman. Thank you for everything. Thank you for giving everyone in this world, including myself, the chance to be ourselves, but most of all, thanks for making this world a better place. You are truly an iconic music legend and you are always missed, but you’ll never be forgotten and you shall always remain in mine and everyone’s hearts forever. David Bowie. Thank you for everything!

Alex Smithson

Remembering Amy Winehouse 5 Years On (1983 – 2011)

It’s hard to think it was exactly five years ago today that we lost the iconic music legend, Amy Winehouse. The time has flown but it doesn’t really feel like it has when you consider the news of Amy’s death was announced on this day five years ago, it just feels unreal. I was actually heartbroken when I found out she died because it’s like the musician we all came to know and love over the years had gone within a flash.

I wanted to pay tribute to Amy Winehouse by reflecting on her music career, as well as iconic songs that I felt really got to the bottom of what life can be like from anyone’s perspective as well as her own.

Amy Winehouse’s record, Stronger than Me, which came from her first studio album, Frank, had that sensual, yet realistic feeling that I could relate to, as it was based on someone who she may have felt was a lot stronger than her, but really she was the strong one, but I could relate to that song almost instantly, because it’s like the feeling I would feel, such as whether I know someone who is stronger than I am, was creating the bigger picture. It was, to me, like a concept, but except it was like a jigsaw puzzle where even though she sung it, it’s like she wasn’t stronger than she thought, given she may have thought someone else was stronger than her, but really she was stronger than she first thought.

The song, Tears Dry On Their Own, taken from Amy Winehouse’s album, Back to Black, had that instant connection, because although she did that song based around the relationship she was in, I felt that song connected to me completely because it’s like you may feel that sense of hurt, that sense of pain from an experience you want to forget, but as you forget, you get stronger, and you find that those tears will dry themselves and you won’t cry anymore for anything that is now past history, and to me, that’s how I feel every time I listen to Tears Dry On Their Own, because you don’t necessarily have to be in a relationship to know what it feels like, even in friendships or even at certain stages where you may feel like you have been taken for granted, you know what it will feel like if you have experienced a certain period of time in your life where something’s gone horribly wrong, but although you may feel weak inside, really you’re not, you’re actually stronger than you think and you know that you can move on and forget what you shouldn’t care about anymore.

Back to Black brought with it a relatable feeling, because when Amy Winehouse said this line: “We only say goodbye with words, I died a hundred times“, it’s like every time you say goodbye to someone, or even to anyone, it’s like you lose a part of yourself, the same for the other person as well, and it’s like you have died more than once, but really, you’re in the state of mind where everything just appears to be out of control, but also out of your hands, and also at the same time, like as if your whole world has fallen apart just the same as the other person in mind. I sometimes feel like that, which is why this song in general, does make me feel like I have been there, and I have, I have experienced moments of upset recently after going through a seriously bad patch whilst at college, but it was having everyone there, friends and family, and even close friends that kept me going through a seriously bad experience and I feel a lot stronger now than before, because I have got through the pain with everyone by my side. That’s why this song connects me to the overall feeling of what Amy said in this particular song altogether.

Our Day Will Come, which is taken from Amy Winehouse’s posthumous third studio album, is the song I love because it has that positive feeling that goes with it, as it not only has that positive connection to it, but it’s a song I would always listen to everyday and never get tired of. I would never get tired listening to Amy Winehouse and her music, because her music is the kind of music I will listen to.

Although Amy Winehouse is gone, she will never be forgotten. She will always be remembered in mine and everyone’s hearts forever. We miss you Amy Winehouse xxxxxxxxxx.

Alex Smithson

Hello…It’s Me, Adele. (Artistic Interpretation #5) [Article #400]

I wanted to celebrate this 400th article in style by drawing Adele for my fifth artistic interpretation.

I thought it would be a lovely idea to draw Adele considering the massive global success she has and is thanks to her third studio album, 25, going to Number 1 in almost every single country, including her Hello video receiving well over 1.5 billion views in just under a year.

I can admit, there will be some confusion regarding this drawing, because when I was drawing Adele completely freehand with a photo reference of her looking up, I did notice that I could somewhat see Ruby Wax, and a hint of the musician, P!nk, including a slight hint of Elizabeth Taylor, given the eyelashes.

I wanted to draw just the features of Adele’s face like I did previously with Amy Winehouse, as I wanted to make Adele’s facial features stand out.

Below is my fifth artistic interpretation drawing of Adele in its full glory.

Adele Drawing by Alex Smithson

Overall, I feel I have improved quite a lot since I’ve been developing my drawing skills more, and I feel absolutely pleased with the end result I have achieved from this drawing I have done of Adele.

If you enjoyed this article and loved the drawing, please feel free to submit feedback below. All feedback is much appreciated.

Alex Smithson

Madonna: Artistic Interpretation #2: The True Blue Era (1986)

As I kicked my two-week holiday off with a bang, I took the opportunity to draw the Queen of Pop songstress, Madonna, again, but this time in her True Blue era, as I saw that a lot of fans had created pieces of artwork inspired by the True Blue photograph that Herb Ritts took of her back in 1986.

This drawing took from Friday 25th March to Tuesday 29th March to complete, and has to be one of the most difficult drawings I’ve produced yet. It’s worth the time drawing, because I can finally set my creativity free after a long while. It’s amazing what a 5B pencil can produce, and I just feel so fortunate that I can draw what I’m good at.

Over the course of the few days I’ve been producing this drawing, I’ve already been asked by one of my friends upon request if I can draw them, and I will, and I recently had some feedback given that I’ve been documenting my progress of this drawing on the photo-sharing service, Instagram, and I was told by one of my Instagram followers that it was so good, and it really brought a smile to my face.

I think with this drawing I wanted it to be based around not just that era, but also around how I artistically interpret Madonna as a musician.

Artistic Interpretation 2 - Madonna - The True Blue Era (Final Version)

The final statistics of the Rebel Heart Tour that Madonna brought to a remarkable close on the 20th March show that the tour has officially grossed $169,804,336, with full attendance (1,045,479 / 1,045,479).

This is a fantastic milestone of its own that marks the end of the Rebel Heart Era on such a positive note. I also feel glad to have done this drawing freehand with the photo reference of Madonna during her True Blue Era, which was all the way back in 1986. Exactly 30 years ago. Wow! Time sure has flown.

To celebrate this milestone, I have officially uploaded and published a video of this drawing whilst it was in progress, and it will show you the progress that I have made in drawing my second artistic interpretation of Madonna, right up to the very end ☺.

If you liked my second artistic interpretation drawing of Madonna, then please feel free to submit feedback. All feedback is much appreciated and I hope you liked the drawing and the video ☺.

Alex Smithson

My Artistic Interpretation of Madonna

From Friday 11th March 2016 to Monday 14th March 2016, I worked on my drawing of the Queen of Pop songstress, Madonna, and this drawing that I worked on was inspired on one of the photos that was taken of Madonna during the Ray of Light era. I can be honest with you all, this was my first proper attempt at drawing someone including their face, considering that a few years ago, I couldn’t draw a face properly unless I used a photo to trace over the original.

In this drawing, however, I did use a photo of Madonna from the Ray of Light era, but I didn’t trace her at all. Instead, I did the drawing freehand by looking at my computer screen, and then I drew freehand as I went along. I studied the photo while I was drawing, so that I could create my own interpretation of Madonna during the Ray of Light era.

Because it took some time to complete, I wanted to make sure that I could show my creative side to life in the artistic sense, and because my drawing skills had rapidly improved over the course of last year and the year before, I thought it would be nice to pay homage to Madonna as she has left a positively remarkable impact not just on my life, but on the lives of all of us, and there is no doubt that she is actually one of the most revolutionary musicians around.

I don’t care about the controversy at the end of the day that centres around her, all I care about is that she is putting herself out there for all of us and making sure to stand up and fight for what we all believe in, and it’s about time. I look up to Madonna as she is always there to inspire and make us all believe in ourselves and that we can be the best we can be.

But one thing I can say about her is she is brave at being dangerous at certain things, because I certainly couldn’t take the kind of risks she can take, and I admire Madonna entirely, because she might feel afraid to do something like any of us would, but she is brave because she goes for those risks head-on and it’s been a lot of strength, determination, courage, passion and love that has made Madonna the independent woman she is today.

As yesterday drew Madonna’s Rebel Heart Tour to a remarkable close, I thought it would be a good idea to showcase the drawing I’ve done. Please keep in mind that it will of course look different to the original drawing, but I wanted to make sure my artistic interpretation of Madonna was original.

Without further ado, here is my artistic interpretation of the Queen of Pop Songstress, Madonna, in drawing form.

My Artistic Interpretation of Madonna

It’s the first time in almost a year since I last did anything drawing-based, and this is the first time I’ve ever attempted drawing someone famous including their facial features and hair, so as you can imagine it was difficult for me to draw this, but all that hard work and free time drawing Madonna was absolutely worth it. I love how it’s turned out to be honest, and it’s a way of me saying with inspiration from Madonna that we should all be ‘Living for Love’ no matter what, because after all, love really does lift us up even at the most difficult of times. I hope my drawing inspires all of you :-).

If you liked my first ever artistic interpretation of Madonna, please feel free to feedback your thoughts on my first ever artistic drawing. Your feedback is absolutely appreciated.

Alex Smithson

Music: How does it show our emotions?

As the title suggests, how does music show our emotions? Well, in many of the songs that you hear by a very huge number of musicians, they create their music in a way where certain songs can capture elements of happiness, sadness, anger, but also capture a kind of feeling where you can relate to that musician in terms of certain life experiences.

As you know already, I am an avid music listener, and I can never go a day without listening to music, because music has become a part of my life including everyone else’s lives in the world.

We all listen to music, as music is what helps to connect all of us together, as well as the different types of music interests and tastes that all of us have.

In terms of how music is made, the evolution of making music has rapidly changed so fast, because before, you would have to use all of the old musical instruments and some specialist recording equipment in order to make the music you make become a reality, now, with the highly advanced technology and equipment you get nowadays, it’s almost like a straightforward process, where you just sing your heart out into the microphone, and the record labels do the rest for you.

What kind of music interests do I have? The music interests I have are Pop, Rock, R&B, Jazz, Soul, Dance, Alternative & Indie Rock.

Now, it may sound like those music genres may be of interest to me, but I’m a very fussy person when it comes to picking the music that I listen to. Why? Because I’m one of those people where I want to be able to listen to a song or album that fits perfectly with my musical tastes. When it comes to songs or albums, it has to be a song or album that not only I will like, but a song or album that everyone else in the world will like.

The reason I absolutely love certain musicians, such as Madonna, Jessie J, Ben Haenow, Olly Murs, Michael Jackson, Nelly Furtado, Cilla Black, U2, Owl City, Paloma Faith, Anastacia, Maroon 5 and many more is because they have all influenced and inspired me to go further in this world, as many of the musicians whose songs and albums I listen to are inspirational, as they want you to be yourself, and not be made into something that you don’t want to be, and that is why I feel proud to be myself, and know that my life has no limits to the dreams I want to achieve.

Music is inspiration to my ears, and it’s also a way of helping me to get through even the most stressful of days, and music is what mainly helps me to channel my own emotions, my own ideas and also my own skills into the things that I want to design and publish. Another reason as to why Mother Nature is a website is not just because of the fact that it’s a photography website, but it’s also because music is what attaches and keeps it together.

My aim for Mother Nature is to make sure that you enjoy every article that I’ve published, whilst having the Spotify playlists on the right hand side of the website, so that it helps me to connect to all of you and to also find out new music and also the connective tastes of music that you all have. I love to become interested in new things, as this helps me to connect to the world, and it also helps me, as I can reach out and connect to all of you in the world.

My three questions to you:

  1. Who are your musical interests?
  2. What genres of music do you like?
  3. Which musicians influence you the most in life?

Alex Smithson

Cilla Black (1943 – 2015)

On Friday 1st August 2015, the world lost an international music & TV icon. Cilla Black, best known for being on the hit TV shows, such as Surprise Surprise & Blind Date, which had both ran for 18 years, sadly passed away at the age of 72, at her holiday home in Spain.

This tribute article will take a look back on Cilla Black’s life as it unfolded, and the timeline of events that occurred throughout her life up until her sudden death at the very beginning of this month.

Priscilla Maria Veronica White (Cilla Black) OBE [Order of the British Empire] – 27th May 1943 – 1st August 2015

Priscilla Maria Veronica White, best known by her stage name, Cilla Black, was an English singer, television presenter and actress. As she was championed by her friends, which were The Beatles, Cilla had began her career as a singer in 1963, and her singles: “Anyone Who Had a Heart” and “You’re My World” had both reached number one in the UK in 1964. Cilla Black had eleven Top Ten hits on the British charts between 1963 & 1971, and in May 2010, the new research that was published by BBC Radio 2 had shown that her version of “Anyone Who Had a Heart” was the UK’s biggest selling single by a female artist in the 1960s. “You’re My World” had also been a modest hit in the United States, as it peaked at No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100. Cilla Black had gained her first number one album this month following her sudden death on the 1st August.

With a successful recording career in the 1960s and the early 1970s, Cilla Black had hosted her own variety show, Cilla,  for the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) between 1968 and 1976, and after a brief time as a comedy actress in the mid-1970s, Cilla had also become a prominent television presenter in the 1980s and 1990s, hosting the hit entertainment shows, such as Blind Date (1985 – 2003) and Surprise Surprise (1984 – 2001 | Now Revived).

In 2013, Cilla Black had celebrated 50 years of being in show business, and the British television network, ITV, honoured this milestone with a one-off entertainment special, which aired on the 16th October 2013. The show, which was titled: “The One & Only Cilla Black”, featured herself and was also hosted by Paul O’Grady.

Cilla Black died on the 1st August 2015 after suffering a fall in her villa in Estepona, in Spain. The day after her funeral, the compilation album: “The Very Best of Cilla Black” went to number one on the UK Albums Charts, which was marked as her first number one album.

Cilla Black’s Early Life

Priscilla White was born in Liverpool, in England on the 27th May 1943 and had grown up in the Scotland Road area of the city. Her parents were John Patrick White (1904 – 1971) and Priscilla Blythen (1911 – 1996). She had a Welsh grandfather, Joseph Henry Blythen (1883 – 1966), who was born in Wrexham, and Irish great-grandparents on both of her father’s and mother’s sides of the family. Cilla Black was raised in a Roman Catholic household, and had also attended St. Anthony’s School, which is situated behind St. Anthony’s Church in Scotland Road, and Anfield Commercial College, where she had learnt her office skills.

As she was determined to become an entertainer, Cilla White had gained a part-time job as a cloakroom attendant at Liverpool’s Cavern Club, which is best known for its connection with The Beatles. Her impromptu performances had impressed The Beatles and others, and she was also encouraged to begin singing by a Liverpool promoter, Sam Leach, who had booked her first gig at the Casanova Club, located on London Road, where she had appeared as “Swinging Cilla”.

She later became a guest singer with the Merseybeat bands, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, Kingsize Taylor and the Dominoes and later on with the Big Three. Meanwhile, she had worked as a waitress at the Zodiac coffee lounge, where she had later met her future husband, Bobby Willis. She was featured in an article in the first edition of the local music newspaper, Mersey Beat, by the paper’s publisher, Bill Harry, who had mistakenly referred to her as Cilla Black, rather than her real surname, White. From there, she would then take the name, Cilla Black, as part of her stage name.

Cilla Black’s Music Career

Before August 1967

Cilla Black had signed her first contract with her long-time friend and neighbour, Terry McCann, but this contract was never honoured as it was made when she was underage (the age of majority at that time was 21), and her father had subsequently signed her with Brian Epstein.

Cilla was introduced to Brian Epstein by John Lennon, who had persuaded him to audition her. John was encouraged by his Aunt Mimi to introduce Cilla Black to Brian Epstein. Brian Epstein had a portfolio of local artists, but had initially shown little interest in her. Cilla’s first audition was a failure, partly because of nerves, and also partly because The Beatles (who supported her) played the songs in their usual vocal key rather than re-pitching them for Cilla Black’s voice. In her autobiography: “What’s It All About?”, Cilla Black wrote:

“I’d chosen to do “Summertime”, but at the very last moment I wished I hadn’t. I adored this song, and had sung it when I came to Birkenhead with the Big Three, but I hadn’t rehearsed it with the Beatles and it had just occurred to me that they would play it in the wrong key. It was too late for second thoughts, though. With one last wicked wink at me, John set the group off playing. I’d been right to worry. The music was not in my key and any adjustments that the boys were now trying to make were too late to save me. My voice sounded awful. Destroyed—and wanting to die—I struggled on to the end.” – Cilla Black

But after he saw her another day, at the Blue Angel Jazz Club, Brian Epstein had contracted with Cilla Black as his only female client on the 6th September 1963. Brian Epstein had introduced Cilla to George Martin who signed her to Parlophone Records and produced her debut single, “Love of the Loved” (written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney), which was released only three weeks after she had joined Brian Epstein. Despite an appearance on ABC Television’s popular TV Show, Thank Your Lucky Stars, the single itself peaked at a modest No. 35 in the UK, a relative failure compared to the debuts of Epstein’s most successful artists (The Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers and Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas).

Cilla Black’s second single, released at the beginning of 1964, was a cover of the Burt Bacharach-Hal David composition: “Anyone Who Had a Heart”, which was originally written for Dionne Warwick. The single had beaten Warwick’s recording of the song into the UK Charts and had also risen to Number 1 in Britain in February 1964 (spending three weeks there), selling 800,000 UK copies in the process. Her second UK Number 1 came from the successful record: “You’re My World”, which was an English-language rendition of the popular Italian song: “Il Mio Mondo”, which was by the composer, Umberto Bindi. Cilla Black had also enjoyed her chart success with the song in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, South Africa and Canada. Both of the songs sold over one million copies worldwide, and were both awarded gold discs.

Cilla Black’s two Number 1 successes were followed by the release of another Lennon-McCartney composition, “It’s for You” as her fourth UK single. Paul McCartney had played the piano at the recording session and the song had proved to be another success for Cilla Black, as it peaked at Number 7 on the UK Charts.

Cilla Black had belonged to a generation of British female singers, which included the likes of Dusty Springfield, Helen Shapiro, Petula Clark, Sandie Shaw and Lulu. These artists (other than Petula Clark), were not singer-songwriters, but were interpreters of the 1960s contemporary popular music category by song writers and producers. Cilla Black had recorded much of her material during this time, which included songs that were written by the likes of Phil Spector, Randy Newman, Tim Hardin & Burt Bacharach. All of these songs were produced by George Martin at the famously renowned Abbey Road Studios in London.

Cilla Black’s cover version of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” (1965) had reached Number 2 on the UK Charts in the same week that The Righteous Brothers’ original version of the same song went to Number 1 (the week of the 4th February 1965). This was the first of the only three occasions in the history of the British Top 40 where the same song, which was recorded by two different artists, held the top two positions in the chart in the same week. The single, however, wasn’t critically well received, as The Rolling Stones’ manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, had taken out an advert in the Melody Maker in a bid to deride Cilla Black’s efforts compared with the original.

As she was so closely associated with The Beatles, Cilla Black had become one of the selected group of artists in the 1964-65 period (with the others being Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas, and Peter and Gordon) to record more than one Lennon-McCartney composition. Cilla Black had continued to record Lennon-McCartney compositions throughout her time with Parlophone Records (1963 – 1973) and her recordings of “Yesterday”, “For No One” and “Across the Universe” had become radio favourites. Paul McCartney had said that Cilla Black’s 1972 interpretation of “The Long and Winding Road” was the definitive version of the song.

Cilla Black’s career in the United States, although enthusiastically supported by Brian Epstein and his PR (Public Relations) team, were limited to a few television appearances (The Ed Sullivan Show among them) a 1965 cabaret season at the Plaza Hotel in New York, and success with “You’re My World”, which made it to Number 26 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was to be her only American Top 30 Chart success, and Elvis Presley had a copy on his personal jukebox at his Graceland home. Cilla Black herself had recognised that to achieve popular status in the USA, she would need to devote as much of her own time to touring there, but she was plagued by homesickness and a sense of loneliness and had decided to return to the United Kingdom.

During 1966, Cilla Black had recorded the Bacharach-David song: “Alfie”, which was written as the signature song to the 1966 feature film of the same name, and while Cher had sung “Alfie” on the closing credits of the American release of the film and Millicent Martin on the UK version, Cilla Black was the first and only artist to have a hit with the song in the UK (Number 9). “Alfie” had then gone on to become a success for both Cher (in 1966) and Dionne Warwick (in 1967) in the US.

Cilla Black’s own version of “Alfie” was arranged and conducted by Burt Bacharach himself at the recording session at Abbey Road. Bacharach had insisted on 31 separate takes, and Cilla Black had cited the session as being one of the most demanding sessions of her recording career. For Burt Bacharach’s part, he had stated that: “… there weren’t too many white singers around, who could convey the emotion that I felt in many of the songs I wrote but that changed with people like Cilla Black”.

By the end of 1966, Cilla Black had been a guest on Peter Cook and Dudley Moore’s show: “Not Only… But Also”, she had also appeared on The Eamonn Andrews Show, and in a Ray Galton-Alan Simpson revue in London’s West End-Way Out in Piccadilly-alongside Frankie Howerd, and had also starred in her own TV Special, Cilla at the Savoy, which had become one of the most watched Music specials of the 1960s.

Brian Epstein’s attempts to make Cilla Black a film actress proved to be less successful, and after a brief appearance in the “beat” film: “Ferry ‘Cross the Mersey” (1965) and a leading role alongside David Warner in the psychedelic comedy: “Work Is a Four-Letter Word” (1968), both were largely ignored by the film critics. In a 1997 interview with the Record Collector Magazine company, Cilla Black had revealed that she was asked to appear in the film: “The Italian Job” (1969), where she would play the part of Michael Caine’s girlfriend, but the negotiations had fallen through between the producers and her management over her fee.

Brian Epstein died after suffering from an accidental drug overdose in August 1967, not long after he had negotiated a contract with the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) for Cilla Black to appear in a television series of her own. The relations between Brian Epstein and Cilla Black had somewhat soured during the year prior to his passing, largely because he was not paying her career enough attention, and the fact that her singles: “A Fool Am I” (UK – No. 13, 1966) and “What Good Am I?” (UK – No. 24, 1967) were not big successes.

It was rumoured though that Cilla Black was also unhappy with Brian Epstein’s public admission that he had taken LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide), and in her autobiography, Cilla Black had claimed that Brian Epstein had tried to pacify her by negotiating a deal that would see her representing the UK in the 1968 Eurovision Song Contest. However, Cilla Black had refused on the basis that Sandie Shaw had won the previous year’s contest, and that the chances of another British female artist winning were improbable.

After Brian Epstein

Cilla Black’s boyfriend and songwriter, Bobby Willis, had assumed the management responsibilities after Brian Epstein died, and after the relatively disappointing performance of: “I Only Live to Love You” (UK No. 26, 1967), Cilla Black had hit a new purple patch in her music career, starting with the record: “Step Inside Love” in 1968 (UK No. 8), which McCartney had written especially for her as the theme for her new weekly BBC television variety series. Other successes had followed soon after in 1969 with the tracks: “Conversations” (UK No. 7), “Surround Yourself With Sorrow” (written by Bill Martin, Phil Coulter, UK No. 3) and “If I Thought You’d Ever Change Your Mind” (No. 20). Cilla Black had a further big hit with the song: “Something Tells Me (Something’s Gonna Happen Tonight)” [UK No. 3] in 1971.

Cilla Black’s association with The Beatles had continued, and at the 1971 Cannes Film Festival, she had joined George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and the singer, Marc Bolan to attend a screening of the John Lennon-Yoko Ono experimental film: “Erection”. She had also gone on holiday with George Harrison and Ringo Starr on a trip aboard a yacht which was chartered by Ringo. “Photograph” was written on this trip, which was originally intended for Cilla Black, but Ringo Starr had decided to record it himself. George Harrison had also written two songs for Cilla Black: “The Light That Has Lighted the World” and “I’ll Still Love You (When Every Song is Sung)”. The latter of the music that she had recorded during 1974 with her then-producer, David Mackay, was not heard until 2003, when it was included on a retrospective collection, which was entitled as: “Cilla: The Best of 1963-78”.

In 1969, the rock music journalist, Nik Cohn, had written that:

“…she makes people glow. In her time, she will grow into a pop Gracie Fields, much loved entertainer, and she’ll become institutionalised.” – Nik Cohn

Cilla’s Later Music Career

In 1993, Cilla Black had released Through the Years, an album that contained new material that featured a number of duets with Dusty Springfield, Cliff Richard and Barry Manilow, and ten years later, in 2003, Cilla Black released the album Beginnings … Greatest Hits and New Songs.

During the course of 2006-07, Cilla’s 1971 single: “Something Tells Me (Something’s Gonna Happen Tonight)” was used as the soundtrack to a new British advertising for Ferrero Rocher chocolates, and during the 2008-09 pantomime season, Cilla Black had returned to live musical performances in the pantomime, Cinderella, appearing as the Fairy Godmother. Cilla Black was a part of an all-Scouse cast that was assembled in this three-hour stage spectacular to mark the end of Liverpool’s years as the European Capital of Culture. The show had incorporated a number of Cilla’s successes, which she had performed live, including: “You’re My World”, “Something Tells Me (Something’s Gonna Happen Tonight)”, “Step Inside Love” and “I Can Sing a Rainbow”. Cilla Black had received a rave amount of reviews for her singing and overall performance.

On the 7th September 2009, a total of 13 of Cilla Black’s original Studio Albums (the first seven that were produced by George Martin) recorded by Cilla between 1963 and 2003 were released for digital download, and these albums were featured in an array of musical genres. Also released by the EMI (European Music Industry) label at the same time was a double album and DVD set, titled “The Definitive Collection (A Life in Music)”, which had featured rare video footage; a digital download album of specially commissioned remixes as “Cilla All Mixed Up, and a remixed single on digital download of “Something Tells Me (Something’s Gonna Happen Tonight)”.

For the 2010 Winter Pantomime Season, Cilla Black had appeared in Cinderella at the Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury, in Buckinghamshire, and in October 2013, Parlophone Records (the record label that helped to launch her music career in 1963) released the career-spanning CD: “The Very Best of Cilla Black”, which contained all 19 of her UK Top 40 singles, new club remixes, plus a bonus DVD of her 1966 TV Music Special, Cilla at the Savoy. Cilla Black was the best-selling British female recording artist in the United Kingdom during the 1960s, as she had released a total of 15 Studio Albums & 37 Singles.

Cilla’s Television Career

BBC

Cilla Black was offered her own show on the BBC by Bill Cotton, who was then the Assistant Head of Light Entertainment. The first series of Cilla was broadcast on Tuesday 30th January 1968. On her first show, her guest was Tom Jones, and both of the musicians sang a duet together. Paul McCartney (without John Lennon) had written the theme tune entitled: “Step Inside Love”, which had become another chart success for Cilla Black. This song was later on covered by Madeline Bell. The series had featured guest appearances by many of the stars of that era, including Henry Mancini, Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams, Charles Aznavour, Matt Monro, Donovan, Georgie Fame, Sacha Distel, Ethel Merman, The Shadows and Phil Everly.

This success had helped to pave the way for a lengthy television career which had continued until 2003. Cilla Black had began the 1970s by appearing on BBC’s highly rated review of the sixties music scene, Pop Go The Sixties, performing “Anyone Who Had a Heart” on the show broadcast across Europe and BBC One, on the 31st December 1969.

Like many of her contemporaries, during the 1970s, Cilla Black’s musical career had declined. She had often toured but had become increasingly thought of as a television personality. Her own BBC series, Cilla, had ran for almost a decade, as it had racked up eight seasons between January 1968 and April 1976. The theme songs from Cilla’s own hit series were also successful. “Step Inside Love” had opened the series for the runs in 1968 and 1969, and it had reached Number 8 in the UK Singles Chart on its release.

Something Tells Me (Something’s Gonna Happen Tonight)” was the theme for the 1971 and 1973 shows, reaching Number 3 and becoming Cilla Black’s last Top Ten Success. “Baby, We Can’t Go Wrong” was used for the 1974 series and was a minor success, reaching Number 36, which was Cilla’s last UK Chart song until 1993.

The UK’s Eurovision Song Contest entry selection process was part of the Cilla show in both 1968 and 1973, when her close friend, Cliff Richard, was the featured artist performing all the songs that were shortlisted in the: “A Song for Europe” segment. Cilla Black was asked to sing for the 1968 contest and was asked again for the 1970 Eurovision Song Contest, but declined as she was pregnant at that time, and also because she had thought it unlikely that another British female vocalist would win, after Sandie Shaw, who had won the previous year. In 2006, Cilla Black took part in the BBC Wales programme: “Coming Home” about her Welsh family history, with roots in Wrexham and Holywell.

Comedy

On the 15th January 1975, Cilla Black had performed as the main entertainer of the first of six half-an-hour situation comedy plays. The series, which was broadcast by ITV (Independent Television), was entitled: “Cilla’s Comedy Six”, and it was written by Ronnie Taylor. During May 1975, the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain had named Cilla Black as Britain’s Top Female Comedy Star, and the following year, ATV was commissioned to film six more plays, as the initial series had accrued healthy viewing figures and remained constantly among the highest-scoring three shows of the week.

During the course of August 1976, Cilla Black had reprised her role as a comedy actress in “Cilla’s World of Comedy”, which had featured her theme song, and also her new single: “Easy in Your Company”. Between the course of 2013 and 2014, Cilla Black was set to co-star in a new BBC sitcom: “Led Astray” alongside Paul O’Grady – the pilot episode itself was recorded on the 31st October 2013, however, the show was shelved as the pair were unable to cope with the long hours of filming.

LWT (London Weekend Television) [Now ITV Studios]

By the beginning of the 1980s, with Cilla Black performing mainly in cabaret performances and concerts, her television appearances were rare. According to Christopher Biggins’ autobiography, she had “stormed back into the public consciousness with a barnstorming performance as a guest on Wogan in 1983, proving that we can all have second chances”, and after her appearance, people were “desperately trying to find her the right comeback vehicle”.

Cilla Black had signed a contract with London Weekend Television, which meant that she would become the host of two of the most popular and long-running evening entertainment shows of the 1980s and 1990s, which were Blind Date (which ran from 1985 to 2003) and Surprise Surprise (which ran from 1984 to 2001, which was most recently revived). She had also presented the game show, The Moment of Truth (which ran from 1998 to 2001). All of the programmes she presented were mainstream ratings winners and this had consolidated her position as the highest-paid female performer on British Television. Her television appearances had made her spoken mannerisms (“Lorra lorra laughs”, for example), and her habit of referring familiarly to her fellow presenters (“Our Graham”) well known.

Later Television Work

Cilla Black’s most notable television performances after her resignation from London Weekend Television included Parkinson, So Graham Norton, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, Room 101, and a one-off show that was titled: “Cilla Live!” for Living TV. Cilla Black was a judge on the first series of the reality TV series: “Soapstar Superstar”. She was also featured in an episode of the series: “Eating With…” and had also guest presented editions of The Paul O’Grady Show in 2006 and The Friday Night Project for Channel 4 in 2007.

In 2008, Cilla Black had recorded a pilot for the Sky 1 dating show, Loveland. The show was to be a ten-part “21st Century” dating programme for the following year. Unlike Blind Date, the contestants would not sit in front of a studio audience, but would be ‘hidden’ behind real-time animations as they dated each other. Each episode would conclude with the contestant picking their preferred animated character, before meeting the real-life person. The production costs, however, were too high and as a result, the show was pulled.
In October 2009, Cilla Black had guest anchored Loose Women, and on the 28th November 2009, she had appeared on Sky 1 to present “TV’s Greatest Endings”. Between the course of September 2010 and June 2011, Cilla had made the guest panel list appearances, and in 2011, she had also appeared, as herself, in the first episode of Season 4 of Benidorm.
Cilla Black’s 50 Years in Showbusiness
ITV had honoured Cilla Black’s 50 years in showbusiness with a one-off entertainment special, which aired on the 16th October 2013. The show, which was called: “The One and Only Cilla Black” starred Cilla Black herself, alongside Paul O’Grady, who had also hosted the show. The show would celebrate Cilla Black’s career, and this included a special trip back to Cilla’s home city of Liverpool, a host of celebrity friends and some surprise music guests. Cilla Black had also paid homage to Blind Date with the return of its most popular contestants, and this also saw her star in a special edition of Coronation Street.
TV Credits
Year Programme Role
1968–1976 Cilla Presenter
1975 Cilla’s Comedy Six Actor
1977 Cilla’s World of Comedy Actor
1983 Cilla’s Christmas Show Presenter
1984–2001 Surprise Surprise Presenter
1985–2003 Blind Date Presenter
1998–2001 The Moment of Truth Presenter
2006 Soapstar Superstar Judge
2006-2010 The Paul O’Grady Show Guest Presenter & Guest
2007 Room 101 Guest
2009 TV’s Greatest Endings Presenter
2009–2014 Loose Women Regular/Guest Panellist
2011 Benidorm Herself
2011 Never Mind the Buzzcocks Guest Presenter
2013 Your Face Sounds Familiar Guest Judge
The One & Only Cilla Black Special Guest

Cilla Black ended her television career in 2014, prior to her sudden death on the 1st August 2015.

TV Biopic

In 2014, Cilla Black was the subject of a three-part television drama series, titled “Cilla”, which would focus especially on her rise to fame in 1960s Liverpool, as well as her relationship with Bobby Willis. ITV had aired the first installment of the three-part series on the 15th September 2014, with the last two installments that followed soon after, and the TV Biopic starred the former Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps and The C Word BAFTA award-winning actress, Sheridan Smith (who had most recently starred in the hit ITV Drama, Black Work).

Cilla Black’s Personal Life

Cilla Black was married to her manager and husband, Bobby Willis, for 30 years from 1969 until 1999, when he passed away from lung cancer on the 23rd October 1999. They had three sons together:

  • Robert (born 1970, who became her manager)
  • Ben (born 1974)
  • Jack (born 1980).

Their daughter, Ellen (born 1975) was born prematurely and suffered lung complications, which meant that she only lived for two hours.

Cilla Black was a staunch supporter of the Conservative Party, and she had publicly voiced her admiration of Margaret Thatcher (for which she was infamously booed by the audience on her 1989 New Year’s Eve television special: “Cilla’s Goodbye to the 80s”). In April 1992, Cilla appeared on stage at a Conservative Party rally, and had also made prominent calls for the party’s re-election under the leadership of John Major, however, in a 2004 interview with The Guardian, Cilla Black had claimed that she was “apolitical”. The Liverpool Echo had also quoted her as saying: “as for the politics thing, I’m not a Conservative.”

In August 2014, Cilla Black was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian, opposing the Scottish Independence in the run-up to September’s referendum on that issue.

Death

Cilla Black passed away at her holiday home in Estepona, in Spain, on the 1st August 2015, aged just 72. A spokesperson for the High Court of Justice in Andalusia had suggested that an accident may have been the contributory factor in Cilla’s death. Following the results of a post-mortem examination, her sons had confirmed that Cilla Black had died from a stroke following a fall in her Spanish villa. The ten-page pathologist’s report had confirmed that Cilla Black had suffered a subarachnoid haemorrhage after falling backwards and hitting her head, it was thought, on a terrace wall. It was also believed that she hadn’t been found for at least four hours.

In 2014, Cilla Black had stated that she wanted to die when she reached the age of 75, as her mother, who had suffered from progressive osteoporosis, had lived to the age of 84 and that her final years were difficult. According to a friend, she had recently said that she was approaching death, after complaining of failing eyesight and loss of hearing as well as arthritis. Cilla Black had been suffering with rheumatoid arthritis for years, and was in “considerable agony” towards the end of her life.

In the days that followed her death, a book of condolence was opened at the Liverpool Town Hall, and the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, stated that: “Cilla Black was a huge talent who made a significant contribution to public life in Britain. My thoughts are with her family.” Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Sheridan Smith, Cliff Richard and Paul O’Grady were among the friends and colleagues in the entertainment industry who had expressed their sorrow of Cilla’s death.

The comedian, Jimmy Tarbuck, who was a friend of Cilla Black’s for decades, said that: “She was the girl next door that everybody loved and would have loved as a daughter, a daughter-in-law.” The songwriter, Burt Bacharch, had said that: “It will always be a most special memory for me of recording her on Alfie in Abbey Road Studios in 1965.” The broadcaster and TV Presenter of Deal or No Deal, Noel Edmonds, said that she had: “captured the hearts of the British people” because: “she was our Cilla – there were no airs and graces”.

Cilla Black’s funeral service was held on the 20th August 2015 at St. Mary’s Church in Woolton. Tom Williams, the Roman Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Liverpool, led the service, and Cilla’s friend, Cliff Richard, sang at the service, while her close friend, Paul O’Grady, gave an uplifting eulogy. She was buried in a private ceremony at the Allerton Cemetery in Allerton on the same day. On the 21st August 2015, the day after Cilla Black’s funeral, her compilation of hit songs: “The Very Best of Cilla Black”, went to Number 1 on the UK Albums Chart, and this was Cilla Black’s first Number 1 album.

Cilla Black’s Discography

  • Cilla (1965)
  • Cilla Sings a Rainbow (1966)
  • Sher-oo! (1968)
  • Surround Yourself with Cilla (1969)
  • Sweet Inspiration (1970)
  • Images (1971)
  • Day by Day with Cilla (1973)
  • In My Life (1974)
  • It Makes Me Feel Good (1976)
  • Modern Priscilla (1978)
  • Especially for You (1980)
  • Surprisingly Cilla (1985)
  • Cilla’s World (1990)
  • Through the Years (1993)
  • Beginnings: Greatest Hits & New Songs (2003)
  • Cilla All Mixed Up (2009)

Awards

Cilla Black was appointed OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) for her services to entertainments in the 1997 New Year Honours, and in 2014, Cilla Black was the recipient of the British Academy Television Awards’ Special Award and the first Royal Television Society Legends Award in honour of her 50 years in the entertainment industry.

Books

Autobiographies

  • Step Inside (1985) – London
  • What’s It All About? (2003) – London

This tribute article comes to a remarkable close. We will miss you dearly Cilla Black, but you will always be remembered, not just as a musician, but also for the happy and colourful music trail you have left behind. You will always be remembered in our hearts forever. We miss you dearly Cilla Black, but you will never be forgotten.

Alex Smithson