Ben Haenow / One Night Tour / Special Tour Review! – Tuesday 19th April 2016

As the Croydon-born talented musician, also the winner of The X Factor 2014, Ben Haenow, kicked off his One Night Tour on the 15th April 2016, which ran until the 23rd April 2016, everyone was full of excitement, including myself, as he came back to his hometown, Croydon, on the 19th April 2016, to perform his One Night Tour at Fairfield Halls / The Ashcroft Theatre, which promoted his self-titled debut album, Ben Haenow, which was released on Friday 13th November 2015.

As I waited for this night to arrive since I purchased my pre-sale ticket in November, I knew from the moment I purchased my ticket to see him perform that this night would be the best night I would ever have. The last time I saw him perform was at his homecoming just outside the HMV store in Croydon, connected to the Whitgift Centre, when it was chucking down with rain, and he performed Jealous Guy (originally by John Lennon) and Come Together (originally by The Beatles).

The One Night Tour was out of this world. Ben instantly took the roof off of Fairfield Halls off and everyone in the auditorium stood up, and hearing him perform on tour gave me goosebumps, as I knew that this night was the night I waited for, and not just that, but on the closing song that he performed, which was his X Factor winner’s single: “Something I Need (originally by OneRepublic)”, everyone at the front of the stage got up on the stage to sing with him, and I did too. None of us got into trouble at all because he wanted us to join him on stage, and I won’t lie to you, it’s my first ever time going to see a musician perform on tour.

After the tour ended, I was able to get a photo with Ben’s brother, Alex Haenow, the Opening Act, James Plimmer, including the main man himself, Ben Haenow!!!!! Tuesday night was absolutely worth the wait, and I would do anything to go back to that night. Ben Haenow is such a down-to-earth guy, and it is an absolute honour to have met him.

Below are the best photos I took at Fairfield Halls before, during and after the One Night Tour, including some photos with Ben Haenow, Alex Haenow and James Plimmer. I have also got video footage from the One Night Tour which will also be included as a YouTube video, documenting parts of the tour as it happened.

Opening Act: James Plimmer

Ben Haenow & Alex Haenow!!!!!!!!!!

Below is the video of the 18 video clips I recorded at Fairfield Halls during Ben Haenow’s One Night Tour, featuring James Plimmer and Alex Haenow. These small clips, which are combined into a 12-minute video give you a taster of what Ben performed on his One Night Tour on the 19th April 2016 at Fairfield Halls / The Ashcroft Theatre, in Croydon, opposite Croydon College.

To Ben Haenow, Alex Haenow and James Plimmer, thanks so much for a perfect night, and I hope to see you guys perform again in the future 😉👍👌

Alex Smithson

© Ben Haenow 2016

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

Ben Haenow | Croydon | Winner of The X Factor 2014

WE LOVE BEN!!! WE LOVE BEN!!! WE LOVE BEN!!! WE LOVE YOU BEN!!!

4 months ago, Ben Haenow auditioned for the ITV Studios programme, The X Factor, and with much delight, this marked the beginning of what would be one of his biggest challenges yet.

Over the course of the 4 months since the beginning of The X Factor, Ben has fought his way through every week, making sure to guarantee his spot in the final on Saturday & Sunday night’s shows. Every week, Ben has rapidly got better and better as his journey progressed, and, last night, Ben Haenow, from Croydon, won this year’s X Factor.

I kept my fingers crossed, hoping for Ben to win, as I went to see his homecoming performance last Tuesday, which was fantastic, despite braving the wind and rain with no coat on until I got on my bus home. The two songs that Ben performed at his homecoming in Croydon was Come Together by The Beatles and Jealous Guy by John Lennon.

I must admit, despite the heavy workload I took on to complete by the 3:45PM deadline today, this weekend just gone was funny and emotional, because, during the course of Saturday’s first part of the X Factor Final, I noticed I was on TV twice on the left hand side of the audience, because I was at the front, and I did nothing but crease up in fits of laughter, because, when you’re having a good time, generally you wouldn’t think about it, and even though I knew the camera was panning on my side, I just cheered because I wanted Ben to win, and it was hilarious to see that I made two TV appearances in just a few split seconds. I still think about it even now, and always will for the rest of my life.

The X Factor Finals on both Saturday & Sunday were absolutely tense and so close, but, after hearing Ben’s name being announced that he had won the X Factor for 2014, I burst out shouting: “YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” because it was a long journey, but my goodness, I have followed Ben’s time on the programme since his first audition, and I will always continue to follow the future aspects of his career now he has become a star.

I am absolutely proud of Ben, and I feel absolutely proud to be a Croydonian, we love you Ben, the whole world loves you!!!!!!!!

Since last night’s final, Ben Haenow’s debut single: “Something I Need” has shot straight to the Number 1 spot on iTunes, and has since become one of the fastest selling singles in the 10 year history of The X Factor.

It gives me the absolute pleasure to announce that Ben Haenow’s debut single: “Something I Need” is now a permanent fixture on Mother Nature via Spotify, starting from today.

To download Ben Haenow’s debut single: “Something I Need”, head to the iTunes Store by clicking here.

I want to congratulate our Croydon lad, Ben Haenow, for fighting for the winner’s crown all the way to the end, and I am absolutely proud of him. I’m absolutely proud of you Ben Haenow. We love you Ben!!!

Alex Smithson