Tributes are flooding in for the late Cilla Black.
The big-voiced British singer, a product of Beatles-era Liverpool who became a national treasure over a 50-year music and television career, has died. She was 72.
Spanish police said Sunday that the singer died Saturday at her home in Estepona, southern Spain. Black's spokesman, Nick Fiveash, confirmed her death and said details would be released after a coroner's report was completed.
Former Beatle Paul McCartney said news of Black's death came as a shock. "She had a fine distinctive voice and was always a bit of a laugh. It was a privilege to know and love her," McCartney said in a statement.
Ringo Starr tweeted: "She was a good friend we will all miss her."
Black was born Priscilla White in Liverpool, northwest England, in 1943. As a teenager she sang part-time and worked in the cloakroom of the Cavern Club, where her musical talent was spotted by rising local stars The Beatles.
Signed by the Fab Four's manager, Brian Epstein, she had a string of hits starting in 1964 with Anyone Who Had a Heart, written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and You're My World. Both went to No. 1 in Britain, and the latter also charted in the U.S.
She also had success with the Bacharach-David theme tune for the 1966 film Alfie, and recorded several Beatles songs, including The Long and Winding Road.
By the late '60s she was famous enough to be known by her first name alone, and hosted a BBC variety show, Cilla.
With her reliable good cheer and tireless work ethic, Black was a TV natural. Her catchphrase " delivered in a strong Liverpool accent that replaced the letter "t'' with "r'' " was "a lorra, lorra laughs."
She became a British television fixture as the cheeky, cheery host of matchmaking game show Blind Date (between 1985 and 2003) and heartwarming-reunion program Surprise Surprise (between 1984 and 2001).
"She always felt like a friend in your living room, on your TV screen," television executive Michael Grade told Sky News.
In a tweet, her friend Joan Collins called Black "a resplendent and rare talent."
Black's manager and husband of 30 years, Bobby Willis, died in 1999. She is survived by their three sons.
Stars pay tribute
British entertainer Noel Edmonds wrote on Twitter: "Sad to hear about the passing of @Cilla. Too soon #RIP ... Dear #Cilla our 60's pop icon, a true star of Sat Night TV & a friendly, caring, generous lady. A Lorra Lorra love & gratitude Cilla. Noel (sic)"
Later, in a series of messages, he added: "Today we've lost one of our truly great entertainers. Very few artistes taste success on radio, TV & pop charts. Our #Cilla dominated all 3.
"As a tribute, today & tomorrow I will celebrate her life with her greatest music on my new #radio station (sic)."
Paul O'Grady also told the
newspaper how he couldn't believe his "sister" had passed away.
He shared: "Please tell me this isn't true? We've been friends for nearly 20 years. She's like my sister. Apart from her hearing she was alright.
"We had a week together in Barbados at the beginning of the year and I saw her on my birthday. I thought she was well. I can't believe it to tell you the truth."
Pop star Cliff Richard remembered his "wonderful friend" for her "outrageous (but) funny" nature.
He told ITV in a statement: "Some people will always be with us and Cilla is one of those people. I will always think of her as outrageous, funny, incredibly gifted but above all full of heart.
"She was a very special person, and I have lost a very wonderful friend, I will miss her dearly. God bless her."
David Hasselhoff and Peter Andre also took to the micro blogging site to offer their condolences, with David writing: "I was honored to meet Cilla Black on @loosewomen she had an amazing aura, was kind, charming and always enjoyed a good laugh. God bless her."
Peter added: "Terrible news about Cilla Black. Very sad day today losing such an icon."
Cilla Black: 1943-2015
Cilla Black was born Priscilla Maria Veronica White on May 27.
1963: She was signed by Brian Epstein, best known for managing The Beatles, who is said to have been persuaded to audition her by John Lennon.
1964: Her debut single, Love of the Loved, written for her by Lennon and Paul McCartney, was a relative failure. But her second single the Burt Bacharach-Hal David composition, Anyone Who Had A Heart became the biggest-selling single by a female artist in the history of British popular music. She went on to have 20 consecutive Top 40 hits on the British single and EP charts, including 11 British Top Ten singles and two consecutive Number One singles in 1964.
She made her television debut with Cilla, becoming the first woman to hold her own primetime chat show on BBC One. Guests included Sir Tom Jones.
She wed her manager Bobby Willis and they were married until he died in 1999 from lung cancer, aged 57. The couple had three sons, Robert, Ben and Jack, and two grandchildren. They also had a daughter, Ellen, who died shortly after her premature birth in 1975.
She later hosted hugely popular shows including Blind Date and Surprise Surprise, regularly drawing audiences of around 22 million.
1997: Cilla was awarded an OBE in 1997. In 2005, her autobiography What's It All About? became a best-seller. She has been the recipient of many TV honours
2014: In May, she won The Special Award at the Baftas in recognition of an outstanding contribution to television entertainment of over 50 years.
2015: She died on August 2, 2015, at her home near Marbella, Spain. She was 72.
- AP/Bang Showbiz/Telegraph