One of the queens of British pop is gone. Singer and TV star Cilla Black died in Spain on Sunday at the age of 72 from what appear to be natural causes, local police say, according to EW. Fans around the world, including Joan Collins, Andy Cohen, Piers Morgan, Paul McCartney, and U.K. prime minister David Cameron, are paying tribute to the pop legend for her contributions to the British pop revolution and remarkable five-decade TV career.
Black first gained fame at Liverpool's Cavern Club where she went from coat check girl to signed recording artist after being discovered by the Beatles. After topping the British charts in 1964 with hits like “Anyone Who Had a Heart” and “You’re My World,” "she launched her own BBC variety show, Cilla, and she went on to become a beloved TV personality, hosting shows like Surprise Surprise and Blind Date," EW reports.
Condolences and kind words are pouring in from friends, fans, and entertainment industry colleagues of Black's, expressing their sadness at the show business icon's passing. “Such a shock to hear about Cilla’s passing," McCartney told The Guardian. "She was a lovely girl who infected everyone with her great spirit. From first meeting her as a cloakroom girl at the Cavern in Liverpool, to seeing her many times since, she always had a fun-loving dignity that made her a great pleasure to be around. She had a fine distinctive voice and was always a bit of a laugh. It was a privilege to know and love her.”
Part of what made Black's life and career so memorable among fans was her "total rags-to-riches story," Black's longtime friend Jimmy Tarbuck told the Liverpool Echo. A local girl from humble beginnings who went on to make it big in show business, Black became known as "Liverpool’s Cinderella."
"What a career," Tarbuck said. “She was a star all over the world, everybody knew her and that one name Cilla. That’s all you had to say. Only a few people get that — Ringo, Sinatra, Presley. And that’s the company she kept. She was just a delightful, lovely, natural scouse girl."
British TV personality Gabby Logan noted that Black's humble, small-town roots and not only made her a symbol of Liverpudlian pride, but was also a "trailblazer" in the British entertainment industry.
Black's Cinderella story no doubt inspired future generations of artists. Here she is performing one of her biggest hits:
What a huge loss. Condolences to Black's family, and all those who knew and adored her contributions to pop culture.