By Bill Harry
Liverpool’s most famous female vocalist was born Priscilla Maria Veronica White in Stanley Hospital on 27 May 1943. She had a younger brother, Alan.
She was working as a Dictaphone typist at BICC, the Cable Company, when she first started singing with local groups. It all began when she went to the Iron Door Club with her friend Pauline Behan, who was going steady with George Harrison at the time and was later to marry Gerry Marsden of Gerry & the Pacemakers.
The group on stage was Rory Storm & the Hurricanes and Pauline asked them if Cilla could get up with them and sing ‘Fever’. As a result she made several further appearances with the band.
Rory’s drummer was Ritchie Starkey, whom Rory had dubbed Ringo Starr. Rory had also given him his own five-minute spot in the show called Ringo Starrtime and he generally sang one song per performance.
‘Boys’, the song popularized by the Shirelles, was the number he usually performed, but when Cilla began to sing with the band it was also the number that she preferred. There was a bit of a dispute about this, which was resolved when they performed it as a duet.
Commenting on the compromise, Cilla said: “We did it as a duet, and even then he didn’t concede anything. He had a microphone over the drums and I used to have to sing it bent over his kit.”
Ringo also took to calling her ‘Swinging Cyril.’
While still working as a secretary, Cilla began to sing with the Big Three at the Zodiac Club.
The numbers in her small repertoire were ‘Fever’, ‘Always’, ‘Boys’ and ‘Summertime’.
Allegedly, Cilla’s then boyfriend was Ted Taylor of Kingsize Taylor & the Dominoes. Cilla sang with the Dominoes and might have become a permanent singer with the band, but they set off for Hamburg and Cilla wasn’t able to go – too young and I don’t think her Dad would have approved!
Articles in some magazines in recent years featured a romance between Ted Taylor and Cilla, but she denied this in her second autobiography.