Cilla Black, who rose from a job checking coats in a Liverpool nightclub to become Britain’s top female vocalist of the 1960s, died on Saturday at her villa in Estepona, Spain. She was 72.
Her family announced on Facebookthat Ms. Black died of a stroke after falling and hitting her head.
With her sleek red hair, miniskirts and buoyant demeanor, Ms. Black was the Swinging Sixties incarnate, part of a generation of female singers that included Petula Clark and Dusty Springfield. Closely associated with theBeatles — she had more or less been discovered by John Lennon, performed with the group on occasion and had hits with songs by Mr. Lennon and Paul McCartney — she was long regarded as a national treasure in Britain, a working-class girl who made good.
In a statement on Sunday, Mr. McCartney said, “She was a lovely girl who infected everyone with her great spirit,” adding, “From first meeting her as a cloakroom girl at the Cavern in Liverpool to seeing her many times since, she always had a fun-loving dignity that made her a great pleasure to be around.”
In the 1980s and afterward, Ms. Black enjoyed a second career as a host of British television shows. She was named to the Order of the British Empire in 1997.
Known for her big, belting, smoke-edged voice, Ms. Black recorded more than a dozen albums and several dozen singles, including the hits “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” by Burt Bacharach and Hal David; “It’s for You,” by Mr. Lennon and Mr. McCartney; “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” by Phil Spector, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil; and “Alfie,” by Mr. Bacharach and Mr. David. (Ms. Black sang that song to promote the British release of “Alfie,” the 1966 film starring Michael Caine; Cher sang it on the soundtrack of the American release, and Dionne Warwick had a hit with it in the United States.)
In the United States, Ms. Black was seen on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1965 and performed that year at the Persian Room of the Plaza Hotel in New York.
Priscilla Maria Veronica White was born in Liverpool on May 27, 1943.
“My parents didn’t have money, so they gave us names instead,” Ms. Black said in a quotation cited this week in The Independent, the British newspaper.
Hers was a musical family: Her father, a dockworker, played the harmonica; her mother was a devoted amateur singer. As a teenager, she took a secretarial course at a Liverpool technical college but dreamed of a singing career. To that end, she secured the cloakroom job at the Cavern Club, where the Beatles often performed, and began singing at various local night spots.
At the start of her career, she was billed as Swinging Cilla. But after a Liverpool publication erroneously referred to her as Cilla Black, she decided she liked the name and kept it.
After hearing Ms. Black sing in the early ’60s, Mr. Lennon arranged for the Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, to listen to her. Mr. Epstein represented her from 1963 until his death in 1967.
Before long Ms. Black was a teenage idol, and by the time the ’60s ended she had become the top-selling British female singer of the decade. She had her own television variety show, “Cilla,” on the BBC from 1968 to 1976.
From the mid-1980s through the early 2000s, Ms. Black was the host of several TV shows, including the game show “Blind Date” and “Surprise Surprise,” in which tricks, pranks and the realization of long-held wishes are visited on unsuspecting members of the public.
Ms. Black’s husband, Bobby Willis, who managed her after Mr. Epstein’s death, died in 1999. Her survivors include three sons, Robert, Ben and Jack. A daughter, Ellen, died in infancy.
Throughout her career, Ms. Black was asked — avidly — whether her close connection to the Beatles extended to romance.
No such luck, she replied, though (like most of the women in Britain) she had once dreamed as much.
“When you saw the Beatles as a kid, your first love was Paul, ’cause he had that lovely baby face,” Ms. Black explained in 2011 on “Never Mind the Buzzcocks,” a British comic panel show about pop music. “And then you went on to John, because he was rugged and very feisty. And then you went on to George, because he was just so lovely. And the last resort was Ringo.”
She added: “But, mind you, have you seen him lately? Who’d have thought that Ringo would turn out the cute one? He used to look like Yasir Arafat.”