LIVERPOOL (AFP) - British showbiz stars and thousands of fans bade farewell to Cilla Black at her funeral on Thursday, which was filled with warm tributes to the much-loved singer and television presenter.
Singers Tom Jones and Cliff Richard and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber joined mourners at St Mary's Church in Black's native Liverpool, northwest England, along with a host of British TV celebrities.
Outside, thousands lined the streets to pay their respects as the funeral cortege of the "first lady of Liverpool" passed by. They included former neighbours, her TV show contestants, a married couple who first met while waiting to see her and even a professional Black impersonator.
Black died from a stroke following a fall at her holiday home in Spain on Aug 1. She was 72.
Close friend Richard, who sang at the funeral, said Black "had the determination and she had the gift to do what she set out to do". He added: "My memories of Cilla are going to be very, very happy ones. Cilla, this is just a hiccup in our relationship and we will see you again and I am looking forward to that time."
Jones told Sky News television: "She was always happy and she always had the common touch."
Black, who came from the same Liverpool music circle as The Beatles, released her first single in 1963.
Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, the group's surviving members, sent floral tributes, as did Dynasty actress Joan Collins. The message from McCartney read: "All our love to our darlin' Cilla and family." Starr's said: "Cilla, 'peace and love'."
Comedian and friend Jimmy Tarbuck, who delivered the prayers of the faithful, described Black as "Liverpool's Cinderella".
Black had three sons and a daughter, who died in infancy, with her late husband and manager Bobby Willis. He died of liver and lung cancer in 1999.
In 1964, Black topped the British charts with You're My World and Anyone Who Had A Heart. She went on to release 14 albums.
In 1968, she began a television career that saw her present some of Britain's most popular light entertainment programmes, pulling in huge audiences on weekend evenings.
These included Surprise Surprise, a show that involved surprising members of the public with long-lost loved ones or fulfilling long-held dreams. Another big hit was the match-making show Blind Date, where she interviewed each candidate with the catchphrase: "What's your name and where do you come from?" Her other catchphrases included "Ta-ra, chuck", a typically Liverpudlian way of saying goodbye.