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Sir John: “I feel privileged to have known her”

3 August 2015

Co-Chairman's tribute to a very good friend

We will all miss Cilla very much indeed.

I was absolutely devastated to hear the news of Cilla’s passing yesterday. What you saw was very much what you got with Cilla Black. She was a very natural person, so down-to-earth. That is why I liked her so much.

Everybody knows the extent of her absolutely outstanding show business career. A major pop star, selling a record-breaking number of records as one of the most popular female artists in British pop history, Cilla went on to achieve more fame as a much-loved television presenter fronting the much-acclaimed 'Surprise Surprise' and later 'Blind Date'.

I know she would like to be remembered for all her many achievements in the entertainment industry and the tremendous accolade awarded to her by BAFTA last year, rightly celebrating an incredible 50 years dedicated to show business.

She was a national treasure and a true icon of the entertainment world, yet it is sometimes difficult for me to appreciate how famous she truly was. We were very good friends for more than twelve years.

We got on together so well. We both sung from the same hymn sheet. I will miss her deeply, but I will remember all the fantastic times we shared – from going up to see her in pantomime in Liverpool, to time spent with her in Barbados and back here at Madejski Stadium of course.

Liverpool has spawned many great artists and Cilla's story is a complete fairytale come true. She had a real affinity to the city and the people of Merseyside and, during the time that I knew her, I found out who my father was - who I in fact learned came from Liverpool himself. So I often wonder whether, with Liverpudlian blood running in our veins, that was why we got on so well.

She was very engaging as a person, she had a view on everything - she was just the most wonderful human being to know. I'll miss her friendship very much indeed.

I'm deeply upset personally. But my heart goes out to her boys Bobby, Ben and Jack, their families and all her other dear friends of course…of which she had so many. Her family's loss is colossal. However, I am pleased she was able to pass away peacefully and I hope now she will be reunited with the love of her life, Bobby, who sadly died in 1999.

Cilla was a very, very good friend. I was very privileged to know her.


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