Her lads unveil statue as gift to Liverpool as Cavern celebrates 60th birthday
THE Scottie Road cloakroom girl who became Britain’s highest paid female entertainer has been immortalised in bronze in “the street where it all began”.
Cilla Black, who died in 2015, became the queen of Merseybeat, after being discovered in the city’s legendary Cavern Club at the same time as the Beatles’ star was on the global rise.
A statue, paid for by her children, was today unveiled outside the fabled Mathew Street club on its 60th birthday.
Priscilla White, as she started out, undertook impromptu performances at the Parisian-inspired jazz and beat venue, which caught the attention of the Fab Four - and more crucially their manager, Brian Epstein. It opened the door to a lifelong career in show businesses as a singer and TV entertainer.
The statue is placed just outside the original entrance to the Cavern, yards away from where she checked in coats as a teenager in the early 1960s.
Sculpted by local artists Emma Rodgers and and Andy Edwards (she did the body and he did the head), it was commissioned by Cilla’s three sons, Robert, Ben and Jack.
They donated it as a thank you to the people of Liverpool for the support the family received after she died suddenly, at her villa in Spain, 17 months ago.
Mathew Street was crowded as several hundred people packed the narrow pedestrianised roadway to catch a glimpse of another piece of Liverpool pop history. The unveiling came ahead of a celebrity studded 60th party.
Son Robert Willis said: “We are thrilled that this beautiful statue of our mother is located where it all really began for her and for it to form part of the Cavern’s 60th anniversary celebrations.”
Meanwhile, the Cavern’s Dave Jonescalled for the famous club to be protected for all time to ensure it does not follow the fate of the original venue which was compulsorily purchased - and then demolished - for Merseyrail ventilation shaft in the 1970s.
Mr Jones added: “Who would have thought that when Alan Sytner opened his new jazz club on the 16th January 1957, at 10 Mathew Street - based on Le Caveau De La Huchette in Paris -, that it would still be here 60 years later?
“The Cavern Club today is thriving. As well as being a busy, relevant, live music venue, it is a major tourist destination.”
The Beatles played 292 gigs at the Cavern, putting the cellar firmly at the centre of the swingin’ sixties cultural universe.
In their wake came Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Searchers, Billy J Kramer and, of course, Cilla..
Others who played beneath the cobbles of Mathew Street included the Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, The Hollies, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Ben E King, Rod Stewart, Status Quo, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Queen and many many more whose names make up the Wall of Fame opposite.
But the beat goes on and major artists to have played the venue in more modern times include Adele, Arctic Monkeys, Jessie J, Jake Bugg, Joe Bonamassa and Micky Dolenz.
Artists booked in for concerts during the anniversary year include Mary Wilson of The Supremes, Albert Lee, Andy Fairweather Lowe, Geno Washington & the Ram Jam Band, Big Country and Heather Peace. Other projects due in 2017 include a definitive history of the Cavern documentary, a limited edition book, stage show and some vinyl compilations featuring artists who appeared.
Related reading: Obituary Allan Williams (1930-2016)