Single Stories: Cilla Black, “Anyone Who Had a Heart”

Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Single Stories: Cilla Black, “Anyone Who Had a Heart”

On this day 53 years ago, Cilla Black was in the final week of her three-week run at the top of the UK Singles chart with her version of the Burt Bacharach / Hal David single, providing her with the breakthrough hit that quickly turned her into a superstar.

Although it had already been a hit in America when it was recorded by Dionne Warwick, who took the track into the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1964, UK audiences opted to throw their support behind the version by Black, who – like all the cool kids back then – was managed by Brian Epstein, the man who was keeping busy steering the career of The Beatles. As it happens, Black almost didn’t get the opportunity to record the song, as the gentleman who suggested the song to George Martin, who ultimately produced Black’s version, also suggested that it would sound great if it were to be recorded by Shirley Bassey.

Martin, however, had other plans, having seen the potential in Black as a hitmaker when she recorded a cover of the Lennon-McCartney composition “Love of the Loved,” which - while not a massive hit – made it into the UK Top 40. Taking her into the studio, Martin got help from Johnny Pearson with the song’s arrangement, and with the help of guitarists Vic Flick and Big Jim Sullivan and the vocal group The Breakaways, they turned the song into an instant classic and, as noted above, turned Cilla Black into a star.

As recently as 2010, a BBC Radio 2 report declared Black’s version of “Anyone Who Had a Heart” to be the biggest female UK chart hit of the 1960s. Is it any wonder she became a star?