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From humble beginnings on Scottie Road, young Priscilla White grew up to be a star ...

ORN Priscilla White in 1943 to parents John and Priscilla, Cilla grew up in the Scotland Road area of the city.

BA young Cilla attended St Anthony's School and later Anfield Commercial College, where she gained office skills. But she was determined to become an entertainer, and took a part time job as a cloakroom attendant at The Cavern Club during the birth of Merseybeat.

Her impromptu performances impressed other fledgling stars at the club, and with encouragement from city promoter Sam Leach, she booked her first gig at the Casanova Club on London Road - performing as "Swinging Cilla".

The rising star became a guest singer with other emerging Merseybeat bands The Dominoes and Rory Storm and the Hurricanes - while continuing to work as a waitress.

It was while she was waiting tables at the Zodiac coffee lounge that she met Bobby Willis, the man who would become her manager and later her husband.

The emerging star was continuing to gain attention on the local music scene, and city music paper Mersey Beat carried a report on one of the young singer's performances. However, the reporter mistakenly called the singer Cilla Black - a name she liked so much, she decided to take it as her stage name. And a legend was born.

I said 'you've fantastic to put you Casanova Saturday'.

Sam Leach, promoter Sam Leach, who gave Cilla her first regular paid gig at the Casanova Club, in the 1960s, said: "It's very sad. She was a lovely girl.

"I launched Cilla Black's career at the Casanova club. It was in the ECHO in March, 1961 - Cabaret time at the Casanova Club, with Swinging Cilla.

"We were having a party at the Iron Door club and a friend of Cilla's said 'Cilla's got a good voice.' .' So I got her up with Rory Storm, to back her.

"But Rory's band weren't that good musically, and they were out of key. So she sang two bars of Fever, ran off, and hid in the toilet.

"But I waited for her to come out because I could hear how good she was. I said 'You've got a fantastic voice, I want to put you on at the Casanova Club next Saturday'.

"She said 'No, I'm not doing it. I'm no good.'" ."

He persisted, however. "I went and put an advert in the ECHO on the Monday or the Tuesday, saying she was appearing and showed it to her and said 'You've got no choice now.' .' I got her a rehearsal with The Big Three.

"And, on the Saturday, she got a voice, I want on at the Club next went down fantastic. I gave her PS12. And I remember she bought a red coat with it and came running in The Grapes showing it off to me, and Paul and John and Dick Matthews and all of them. She was a lovely, lovely, ordinary girl."

former music

I said 'You've got a fantastic voice, I want to put you on at the Casanova Club next Saturday'. Sam Leach, former music promoter


Gerry Marsden and Cilla Black, on the dance floor at The Cavern Club, in Liverpool, in the early sixties Picture: GORDON WHITING

John Lennon and Ringo Starr, of The Beatles, back row, centre, stand with Rolling Stone Brian Jones, far left; folk singer Donovan, second left; Cilla Black, second right, and Paul McCartney; right, as they pose with the Apple-managed band, Grapefruit, at a launch party to celebrate their debut, Dear Delilah, on RCA, on January 19, 1968

Cilla with Brian Epstein, at her 21st birthday party, on May 27, 1964

A young Cilla Black, pictured in 1960

Cilla pictured with her silver disc, in March, 1964, after Anyone Who Had A Heart went to number one for three weeks

Cilla with her brother and her mum at their home above George Murray's barber shop, in Scotland Road, Liverpool

Cilla Black in a mini-dress, 1967
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 19, 2015
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