Bury St Edmunds photographer Tom Murray recalls his time with ‘true star’ Cilla Black
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He has spent time with many celebrities during his career, but for Beatles photographer Tom Murray, Cilla Black had “true star quality”.
The Bury St Edmunds-based photographer met the Liverpudlian singer and entertainer by chance a few years ago at a private viewing of his 23 Beatles images.
Cilla, who has been described as a “national treasure” and a “privilege to know”, died at her home in Spain on Saturday aged 72.
Describing the day he met her, Mr Murray said: “It was a huge surprise. Everybody was like ‘Cilla’s here’ and she said ‘tell everyone the story of how you took the photographs’, and then she heard about the other stuff I have taken.
“She was there nearly two hours. She was so charming and nice to everybody and looked fantastic. I have photographed a lot of Hollywood stars, and Cilla looked like a star.”
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Mr Murray, who began his career as a newspaper photographer and is also a town councillor in Bury St Edmunds, said she “beamed in” and swooped across the floor, drinking champagne and sharing stories, including of her days in Liverpool’s famous Cavern Club and of her time living in the city.
“She didn’t just stay with one or two of what I would call ‘the posh people’ she spoke to everyone who would come up to her,” he said.
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The 72-year-old said Cilla did not turn up to the event in London with a huge entourage like celebrities today, someone had just driven her over.
“She was an old-fashioned Hollywood-style star. She would never go out looking scruffy. She always wore make-up and was charming. She had that true star quality.”
Mr Murray photographed the Beatles “totally by accident” on July 28, 1968, when he was asked to help with a “pop group” shoot.
Cilla was another star to emerge from Liverpool in the 1960s, having initially worked in the cloakroom and performed at the Cavern Club, where she met the Beatles.
Mr Murray said he toasted both his mother, Catherine King, who died recently aged 96, and Cilla at a farewell party for his mother on Sunday, held at the One Bull in Bury. He said Cilla – who hosted shows including Blind Date and Surprise Surprise – had been “groundbreaking” with what she had achieved in television.
“She will be sorely missed. There’s no-one like her on the market,” he said. Cilla, whose real name is Priscilla White, had hits such as Anyone Who Had a Heart and You’re My World.
Beatle Sir Paul McCartney wrote her first single, Love of the Loved.