Cilla Black Dies Aged 72 At Spanish Home

The former singer and TV presenter Cilla Black has died aged 72.

The showbiz icon passed away overnight at her home in Marbella, Spain.

Early indications suggest Black, who suffered from hearing problems and arthritis, died of natural causes.

In a statement, her publicist Nick Fiveash said: "It is with deep sorrow that I confirm today the passing of singer and TV personality Cilla Black.

"Details of her death will be announced following the coroner's report. Her family have asked for their privacy to be respected at this time."

The Daily Telegraph quoted a police spokesperson as saying: "We are still awaiting autopsy results but everything at this stage is pointing towards her death being the result of natural causes".

The Liverpool-born star shot to fame in the 1960s with the number one singles Anyone Who Had A Heart and You're My World.

She went on to present the hit television programmes Surprise Surprise and Blind Date, which ran for 18 years.

Lord Grade, former executive chairman of ITV, was among those lining up to pay tribute to Black , who he described as an "enduring family favourite".

She was "a natural, natural performer of the highest quality," he told Sky News.

"One of the all-time greats in showbiz.

"She always felt like a friend in your living room when she was on TV. A magical lady."

Singer Cliff Richard said: "Some people will always be with us and Cilla is one of those people.

"She was a very special person, and I have lost a very wonderful friend, I will miss her dearly. God bless her."

Black spoke about ageing in a frank interview with the Daily Mirror ahead of her 71st birthday last year.

"Seventy-five is a good age to go, I still think that way," she said.

"I don't want to linger. I don't want to be a burden on anybody. I know 75 is only four years away but I take each day as I find it."

She later told Radio Times she planned to age "disgracefully".

Born Priscilla Maria Veronica White, Black began her career as a part-time cloakroom attendant at the famous Cavern Club in Liverpool, where the Beatles regularly played.

She is said to have impressed the band with her impromptu performances and was introduced to the Beatles' manager Brian Epstein by John Lennon. Epstein went on to sign her as his only female client.

Black's debut single, Love of the Loved, which was written for her by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, was a modest success.

However, it was her second single, the Burt Bacharach-Hal David composition Anyone Who Had A Heart, which turned her into a household name.

It shot to Number One, becoming the biggest-selling single by a female artist in the history of British pop music.

In total she released 20 consecutive Top 40 singles, including 11 British Top Ten hits and two consecutive Number One singles, before transforming herself into one of Britain's most iconic TV stars.

Black was awarded an OBE in 1997.

She is survived by three sons.

Her husband and manager, Bobby Willis, who she was married to for over 30 years, passed away in the late 1990s.