Cilla Black statue unveiled as Cavern Club celebrates 60 years

Media captionCilla Black’s son, Robert Willis, said the sculpture “captured the joy that she had”

A life-size bronze statue of Cilla Black has been unveiled outside Liverpool’s Cavern Club as the venue celebrates its 60th anniversary.

The club, credited with launching the career of The Beatles, opened its doors on 16 January 1957 as a jazz cellar.

Crowds gathered in Mathew Street to see the sculpture which shows a young Cilla performing one of her early songs.

The TV celebrity and 1960s singing star, who died in 2015, started work as a cloakroom attendant at the club.

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Crowds filled Matthew Street in Liverpool city centre for the celebrations

It was commissioned by Black’s sons Robert, Ben and Jack Willis, who said they backed the idea after being moved by the response from the city following their mother’s death.

Robert Willis said they wanted to “donate it as a small gesture of gratitude to this great city for their wonderful outpouring of love and affection for our mother”, adding that he was “thrilled” with the statue.

His mother would have been “very flattered, proud and honoured”, he said.

Andy Edwards, one of the sculptors, said “it’s the story of the birth of that period in Liverpool’s musical culture” and it was important the city remembered her.

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Getty Images

Image caption

Cilla Black first worked at The Cavern as a cloakroom girl before going on to launch a hugely successful singing career of her own

The Beatles played hundreds of gigs at The Cavern Club between 1961 and 1963.

The unveiling was one of a programme of special events taking place on Monday to mark 60 years of the Cavern, which became synonymous with Merseybeat and The Beatles.

The Cavern was demolished in 1973 to make way for a shopping centre but reopened 10 years later on part of the same site using reclaimed bricks from the original building.

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The Beatles played at the Cavern Club almost 300 times

Cavern director John Keats said the club had remained relevant and people were “constantly surprised at who has played [here]”.

John Lennon’s half sister, Julia Baird, said the role it played in the Liverpool’s musical history should not be underestimated and she thought Lennon “would have loved” to be part of the celebrations.

“The Beatles didn’t launch The Cavern – The Cavern launched The Beatles,” she said.

The club’s owner, Dave Jones, said: “This venue has to be protected for ever… it has to remain here.”

Image caption

The statue features images from the singer’s life in the fabric of her dress

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