Musician Cilla Black Was ‘Dead Scared’ of John Lennon and Hated Being Alone With Him
Cilla Black landed The Beatles’ Brian Epstein as her manager after urging from John Lennon. He believed she was a talented artist and championed her to Epstein. Before this, Lennon scared Black to a point where she dreaded being alone with him. She once admitted this to him. Here’s how Lennon reacted.
Cilla Black was initially scared of John Lennon
Black first encountered The Beatles at Liverpool’s Cavern Club. She was a singer, and Lennon invited her to join the band onstage.
“I played truant from Anfield Commercial College to see the Beatles at lunchtime sessions,” she said, per the book Lennon: The Definitive Biography by Ray Coleman. “At that time I was singing with some of the local bands, billed as ‘Swingin’ Cilla,’ on a semi-professional basis. But this was the first time I had my chance to sing with the Beatles.”
After this, Black ran into The Beatles often. When she saw them, she hated being left alone with Lennon. He made her incredibly nervous.
“I remember I used to be dead scared of John, although he was the one who had helped me most,” she said. “He had this aura of superintelligence. I hated being left alone to speak to him. Once he said: ‘What’s wrong with you, girl? Don’t you like me?'”
She admitted she found him frightening, which ended up improving their relationship.
“I confessed: ‘I’m frightened of you, John.’ He roared with laughter: ‘And I thought you were a snob!’ After that we often talked.”
She shared how the Beatle helped her career
Black also shifted her opinion of Lennon because of how much he helped her career. He was the one who encouraged her to join The Beatles onstage. He’d also insisted that Epstein listen to her perform and consider signing her.
“It was John who persuaded Brian to listen to me,” she said. “He told Brian that he should sign me up. I did an audition at a club in Birkenhead with the Beatles backing me. I must have been dreadful because I was very nervous. Brian didn’t say anything at all and I didn’t like to ask him what he thought. Eight months later he signed me.”
John Lennon and Paul McCartney gave Cilla Black a song
One of Black’s early hits was a song written by Paul McCartney. McCartney wrote the song “It’s For You” after hearing Black’s song “Anyone Who Had a Heart.”
“Paul was at the recording session when I made ‘Anyone Who Had A Heart,'” she said, per the book The Beatles Diary Volume 1 by Barry Miles. “He said that he liked the composition and he and John would try to produce something similar. Well they came up with this new number, but for my money it’s nothing like the ‘Anyone’ composition.”
Lennon and McCartney helped Black record the song in the studio.
“That was some session we had when I made the new recording. John and Paul joined me, and George Martin,” she said. “We made one track and then everyone had a go at suggesting how they thought it should be recorded. And everyone had different ideas. George said it should be one way, Paul and John another and I just added my suggestions while they were thinking of what else they could do with the composition.”