Championed by her friends the Beatles, she began her career as a singer in 1963, and her singles “Anyone Who Had a Heart” and “You’re My World” both reached number one in the UK in 1964. Black had eleven Top Ten hits on the British charts between then and 1971. In May 2010, new research published by BBC Radio 2 showed 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” was also a modest hit in the US, peaking at No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Along with a successful recording career in the 1960s and early 1970s, Black hosted her own variety show, Cilla, for the BBC between 1968 and 1976. After a brief time as a comedy actress in the mid-1970s, she became a prominent television presenter in the 1980s and 1990s, hosting hit entertainment shows such as Blind Date (1985–2003), The Moment of Truth (1998–2001) and Surprise Surprise (1984–2001).
In 2013, Black celebrated her 50 years in show business. British television network ITV honoured this milestone with a one-off entertainment special which aired on 16 October 2013. The show, called The One & Only Cilla Black, featured Black herself and was hosted by Paul O’Grady.
Black died on 1 August 2015 after a fall in her villa in Estepona, Spain. The day after her funeral, the compilation album The Very Best of Cilla Black went to number one on the UK Albums Chart and the New Zealand Albums Chart; it was her first number one album.
Being so closely associated with the Beatles, Black became one of a select group of artists in the 1964–65 period (the others being Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas and Peter and Gordon) to record more than one Lennon–McCartney composition. Black continued to record Lennon–McCartney compositions throughout her time with Parlophone (1963–1973) and her recordings of “Yesterday“, “For No One” and “Across the Universe” became radio favourites. McCartney said Black’s 1972 interpretation of “The Long and Winding Road” was the definitive version of the song.
Black’s career in the United States, although enthusiastically supported by Epstein and his PR team, was limited to a few television appearances (The Ed Sullivan Show among them), a 1965 cabaret season at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, and success with “You’re My World”, which made it to No. 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. Black herself recognised that to achieve popular status in the USA she would need to devote much time to touring there. But she was plagued by homesickness and a sense of loneliness and returned to the UK.
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