Liverpool lass Cilla Black made a name for herself in the 1960s by releasing a handful of well-received singles. One of her standout hits was Anyone Who Had a Heart, a touching ballad originally recorded by American singer Dionne Warwick who was taking the US charts by storm at the time. English producer George Martin noticed the track and knew it was a hit – but wanted someone on his side of the pond to sing it. He settled on giving it to Cilla.
Cilla released her version of the song on January 31, 1964, just two months after Dionne’s version which landed in November 1963.
The two songs sparked an intense feud between the singers, something Cilla went to her grave with.
Dionne has since become a legendary star who is unrivalled in talent and legacy. Not only did the singer become one of the most-charted female vocalists of all time with 56 singles in the Hot 100 between 1962-1998, but she also had a total of 80 singles in the Hot 100. Dionne also claimed a collection of Grammy Awards for her music.
The singer spoke out about the event in her 2010 autobiography, My Life, As I See It.
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Dionne wrote: “Sometimes there are good reasons why a recording of the same song by different artists is an honest coincidence; other times, there is something a bit sinister about the way it’s done.
“Anyone Who Had A Heart, for example, was just flat out copied.
“Note for note, word for word, and not very well, I might add – by the white British pop singer Cilla Black (whose real name is Cilla White; go figure).”
She also didn’t hold back during an interview at Cannes Film Festival in 2016, when she said: “She stole my music.”
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Dionne’s version of the track, on the other hand, peaked at number 42 in the singles charts.
She once again told her side of the story when she appeared on Lorraine in 2019.
Speaking about the song, Dionne said: “No, no, no. I was not pleased, of course, that she covered my recording of Anyone Who Had a Heart. Prior to at least giving me the time and exposure.”
She added: “Then she did a little thing called Alfie. I was the 47th person to record Alfie, and I must say I’m very proud I’m the only one to have a hit record with it.”
With a smile, Dionne said: “That included Cilla.”
Cilla later referenced the feud during an interview for Great Performances.
She said: “[Anyone Who Had a Heart] was a number one; Dionne was dead choked and she’s never forgiven me to this day.”