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Kirsty MacColl
Kirsty MacColl
December 18, 2000

Age 41

Swimming/Boating accident
kirstymaccoll.jpg (3401 bytes)tropicalbrainstorm.jpg (16536 bytes)  Gordon's Pick: Tropical Brainstorm (+2 bonus tracks)
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KIRSTY MacCOLL DEATH - STATEMENT ISSUED

A statement has been issued on behalf of KIRSTY MacCOLL's management company, which says that the speedboat which struck her was allegedly travelling illegally in an area reserved for swimmers.

The statement in full reads:

"Singer Kirsty MacColl died tragically yesterday afternoon in a boating accident in Cozumel, Mexico, where she was holidaying with her two sons.

Kirsty, who was aged 41, was taking a holiday after a busy and successful year.

"The accident happened when Kirsty, a keen diver, was hit by a speedboat travelling illegally in an area reserved for swimmers. Her two children were with her in the water at the time, but both of them are alright.

Kirsty's former husband Steve Lillywhite is flying to Mexico to be with the children.

"Kirsty has a long and illustrious career in music ranging from hits of her own like 'There's A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears His Elvis' to work with everyone from Johnny Marr to Big Country to Simple Minds and most famously Shane MacGowan and The Pogues on the poignant 'Fairytale of New York' - coincidentally in the charts again, this time courtesy of Ronan Keating. She comes from a musical dynasty and her father Ewan MacColl was one of the stalwarts of the British folk scene throughout the sixties.

"Kirsty MacColl was a bright, fun loving person as well as a talented singer and writer who was loved by anybody and everybody she came into contact with. Manager Kevin Nixon, who has worked with Kirsty for four years, said: "We are absolutely distraught. I was personally immensely proud to be her manager after being a fan for so many years before that".

OBITUARY
Daily Telegraph

Kirsty MacColl

News: Kirsty MacColl killed in boating accident

KIRSTY MACCOLL, the singer and songwriter who has died aged 41 in a boating accident in Mexico, was one of the most refreshing and versatile voices in British pop music.

The daughter of the folk singer Ewan MacColl, she first came to prominence in 1981 with a novelty song entitled There's A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop (Swears He's Elvis), a track that demonstrated the sharp wit for which she became known.

Her biggest hit, Fairytale of New York, which she recorded with the Pogues and which reached Number 2 in 1987, combined a celebration of Christmas spirit with the drunken ranting of two Irish emigrants in America.

Yet neither of these singles did real justice to the consistency of her musicality, and she always remained on the fringes of stardom.

Moreover, she never enjoyed performing in public; during a disastrous tour of Ireland in the mid-1980s she suffered badly from stage fright, singing her songs so fast that she ran out of material and had to repeat her performance.

It was in the recording studio that she gave of her best. "When I go into a studio," she said, "I operate on the principle that I might get hit by a bus tomorrow. I'd hate the obituaries to have to read: 'And her last album was not very good.' "

In fact, her most recent release, Tropical Brainstorm (2000), inspired by recent travels in Cuba and Brazil, was considered by many critics to be her best.

Kirsty MacColl was born in Croydon, south London, on October 10 1959. Her mother was the dancer and choreographer Jean Newlove, whom her father left for Peggy Seeger before Kirsty was born.

As a child she seldom saw Ewan MacColl, and though she inherited his ear for music and his perfectionism, she claimed not to have been influenced by his songs. Instead she took her inspiration from the pop music that she heard on her mother's radio, and by her teens was investigating her elder brother's collection of Frank Zappa records.

She attended Croydon Comprehensive and by the time she went on to art college had already begun her musical career under the pseudonym Mandy Doubt, singing backing vocals in The Drug Addix, an R&B group masquerading as a punk band.

In 1978, the Addix released an EP, The Drug Addix Make a Record, on the strength of which the Stiff label invited them to a studio for a day. Kirsty MacColl was asked back by Stiff; the Drug Addix were not.

A few weeks later she recorded They Don't Know, her own composition and her first solo release. It failed to reach the charts but in 1983 it became a hit for Tracey Ullman.

Kirsty MacColl remained with Stiff throughout the mid-1980s, and in 1985 charted with her version of Billy Bragg's A New England, for which Bragg wrote an extra verse. The follow up, He's On the Beach, flopped and for a time she became a backing singer for other groups, including Talking Heads, The Smiths and the Happy Mondays (on Hallelujah).

By now the mother of two children, in the late 1980s she moved to Virgin, where in 1989 she enjoyed another hit with a cover version, this time of the Kinks' Days, taken from the album Kite, which demonstrated both the range and humour of her songwriting.

Two years later, former Smiths' guitarist Johnny Marr accompanied her on another single, Walking Down Madison (1991), which took her uneasily into dance territory.

But the album from which this was taken, Electric Landlady (a play on Jimi Hendrix's Electric Ladyland), did not sell well, and she again parted company with her record company.

She moved to ZTT, with whom she released the album Titanic Days (1993) and a compilation, Galore, in 1995. But she felt increasingly estranged from the music scene, dominated as it was by techno and Britpop, and in 1992 she headed for South America.

During the next seven years, she travelled extensively in Brazil and Cuba, where she became involved in the Cuban Solidarity Movement, a government-inspired campaign to secure an end to the economic sanctions imposed by the United States.

It was while she was travelling around Latin America that she began to write her last album.

Radio 2 was due this evening to start broadcasting a documentary series that she had made about Cuban music. She had recorded it in Havana, interviewing musicians from the Buena Vista Social Club project.

She married, in 1984 (dissolved 1997), the record producer Steve Lillywhite. They had two sons.

   

  Singer Kirsty MacColl dies

Singer and songwriter Kirsty MacColl has died after an accident on a diving holiday in Mexico.

The singer was killed on Monday in the sea close to the coral island of Cozumel, off the Yucatan peninsula.

Details are sketchy, but it is believed she was hit by a speedboat which was in an area reserved for swimmers.

Her two sons were both with her in the water, but they are said to be unhurt.

Their father and McColl's former husband, music producer Steve Lillywhite, has flown out to Mexico to comfort them.

The daughter of folk singer Ewan MacColl, she is best known for her 1987 Christmas hit with The Pogues, Fairytale of New York, and the hit single There's a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis.

Once in punk band Drug Addix, her first solo release was They Don't Know, in 1979.

It failed to reach the charts, but became a hit some years later when it was covered by Tracey Ullman.

MacColl's other hits include a cover of Billy Bragg's song A New England, and a version of The Kinks' track Days.

She also sang backing vocals for acts including Talking Heads, Simple Minds and Robert Plant.

Her last album, Tropical Brainstorm, was a tribute to Cuban music, which had influenced her throughout the 1990s.

McColl's manager, Kevin Nixon of Major Minor Management, who worked with her for four years, said: "We are absolutely distraught.

"I was personally immensely proud to be her manager after being a fan for so many years before that."

On Wednesday, BBC Radio 2 was due to begin broadcasting a documentary series she had made about Cuban music.

She had recorded the series in Havana, interviewing musicians from the Buena Vista Social Club and Ry Cooder.

The series has now been postponed and the station will consult her family to see if they want the broadcast to go ahead.

A spokeswoman said: "We have decided to delay the broadcast of Kirsty MacColl's Cuba as a mark of respect until we have had the opportunity to consult the family as to their wishes.

"We are devastated at her loss which is a tragedy for her family and has robbed the world of a major musical talent. She will be much missed."

Ironically, the singer spoke about how she would spend this Christmas "with my family and friends" in BBC promotional material to accompany the series.

NY TIMES

 

Kirsty MacColl, Pop Singer and Songwriter, Dies at 41

By JON PARELES

Kirsty MacColl, a singer and songwriter with a string of hits in Britain, died on Monday in Mexico while vacationing in Cozumel. Reuters reported that her manager, Kevin Nixon, said that she was believed to have been hit by a speedboat in an area reserved for swimmers. She was 41 and lived in London.

Ms. MacColl's songs were rooted in folk-rock and girl-group pop, and they tempered romance with realism, often merging witty but unflinching lyrics with buoyant choruses. She sang with a rich, smoky voice.

"Unpretentious, inimitable, writes like a playwright, sings like an angel," the songwriter Billy Bragg wrote for her 1995 compilation album, "Galore" (I.R.S.).

Ms. MacColl was the daughter of the folk songwriter Ewan MacColl. She began performing as a teenager in a punk band, the Drug Addix, which released an EP on the independent British label Chiswick. Her first single under her own name, "They Don't Know," was released by Stiff in 1979; it later became a major hit for Tracey Ullman.

Ms. MacColl had a Top 20 hit in Britain in 1981 with "There's a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop (Swears He's Elvis)," followed by the album "Desperate Characters."

She married the producer Steve Lillywhite in 1984. She had a British hit single with her version of the Kinks' song "Days" in 1989; the album that included it, "Kite" (Virgin), also featured songs written with the guitarist Johnny Marr from the Smiths, a frequent collaborator.

Mr. Lillywhite produced Ms. MacColl's 1991 album, "Electric Landlady" (Virgin); it was followed by "Titanic Days" (I.R.S.) in 1993.

She and Mr. Lillywhite divorced in 1997. In March 2000, she released "Tropical Brainstorm" (V2), which drew on Cuban and Brazilian music. She made a radio documentary series on Cuban music, "Kirsty MacColl's Cuba," that was to be broadcast this week on BBC Radio 2, but has been postponed.

Ms. MacColl sang with the Pogues on "Fairytale of New York," a 1987 British hit, and on the AIDS-relief album "Red Hot and Blue." She also did backup vocals on albums by the Rolling Stones, Morissey, Robert Plant, Simple Minds and Talking Heads. Bette Midler's album "Bette" includes a version of Ms. MacColl's song "In These Shoes?"

She is survived by two sons, Jamie and Louis.

     

 

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All-Music Guide

Kirsty MacColl, daughter of folk singer/songwriter Ewan MacColl, began her own musical career while still in her teens, singing in a band called the Addix, and eventually signed to the legendary Stiff Records. Her first single, the modern girl-group gem, "They Don't Know," was released in 1979. Though it failed in the charts, it was later a major hit for Tracey Ullman. She switched to Polydor in the '80s and landed a U.K. Top 20 hit with the novelty song "There's a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop (Swears He's Elvis)." She followed the single with her first LP, Desperate Character, in 1981. In 1984, she married producer Steve Lillywhite and put her solo career on hold, raising their two children and working as a backup singer. MacColl returned in 1989 with a more mature effort, Kite, which reached the U.K. Top 20. Two more albums, Electric Landlady (1991) and Titanic Days (1993), displayed great talent and diversity and, above all, good pop sensibilities; after a lengthy hiatus, MacColl resurfaced in 2000 with Tropical Brainstorm. — Chris Woodstra

      
 

 

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