When the advert came on TV at work (yes we have a TV at work) for the new series of Cilla my boss instantly went into moaning mode and asked ‘Why the hell do we need a programme about her?’. When I explained that she had been a very successful singer during the 1960s and regularly hung out with The Beatles he was gobsmacked. He had no idea of her career before the days of Blind Date and Surprise, Surprise during the 80s which I thought was really sad. Here is a woman who was right at the heart of the Liverpool music explosion during the early sixties and who helped pioneer the role of women in the industry, yet all she is remembered for is a few Saturday night prime time TV shows.
Growing up I always knew who she was and what she was known for. My parents are about the same age as her and have always loved the music she was involved in. My Dad had a huge collection of 1960s records, including a fantastic box of well over 100 jukebox records. The guy who owned the local cafe was a friend of his and every time they had a delivery of the latest chart records they cleared out the old ones. And as my dad often says “Always take something that’s offered to you for free, you never know when it might come in handy!”.
We’d always have these records blasting through the house at the weekends when I was a child and when he decided he no longer wanted them I grabbed them with eager excitement. One I remember playing a lot, and singing along to rather badly (and still do!), was Anyone Who Has A Heart by Cilla Black. I still play it on my dad’s old record player (which I also grabbed) and even have it, along with her other hits, on my iPod.
But my memories don’t end there. You see, my mum is a natural red head, something I have been jealous of most of my life and it’s because of her that I have dyed my hair red for the last five years. When I was a teenager during the 80s my mum and Cilla had very similar hairstyles and all my friends used to joke that my mum was really Cilla Black in disguise. Little did they know that the resemblance during the 1960s was even more uncanny. Being only two years apart in age and both having red hair, there was inevitably going to be a similarity but just look at my mum in this picture taken the first time she visited America!
Yes, that’s my mum! Wasn’t she cool? Just look at that Cilla hair and I just love her dress. During this same trip her and her American cousin painted each other’s bodies from head to toe with lots of shapes and colours like a couple of hippies at Woodstock. I’m not sure what my mum’s aunt and uncle thought about it though! There really are some amazing photos from this trip. It was my parent’s first holiday abroad as a married couple and during their honeymoon period before my brother came along, so they had an absolute ball. I’m sure this is where my love of vintage all stems from.
I had to include this fab picture of my mum sat at the back of my grandparents house. Her hair is huge! The backcombing that must have gone on to create this must have been intense. She still has a bob today, although it doesn’t have the cute curl flicks at the front, and she still backcombs the back just to create a little bit of height. Someone even said she looked like Mary Quant the other day! I guess you can take the girl out of the sixties but you can’t take the sixties out of the girl.
And just to even it out I thought I’d show you this gorgeous picture of my dad (on the right) and his two best friends when they went on a caravaning holiday during the mid-sixties. Yes, my dad was a Teddy Boy! He had that quiff up until the very end of the decade when he decided to grow it long (bloody hippy!). I think he probably thought he looked like James Dean in this photo. However, both my parents were very wholesome, much like Cilla and her husband Bobby, and never really got into that much trouble. As my mum puts it, “We lived in the sticks, so drugs and getting into trouble weren’t something that happened in our little town. We had to work to earn money and if we wanted to go out, it came out of our wages.”
If you haven’t seen Cilla on ITV starring the amazing Sheridan Smith as the leading lady herself, then do. It really transports you back to the 1960s during a time that must have so exciting and to have been at the heart of it, like Cilla was, must have been incredible. The next episode is on tonight (Monday 22nd) at 9pm but if you want to catch up just go to the ITV Player.