Singer Kirsty MacColl Dies

19 Dec 2000
The singer and songwriter Kirsty MacColl, 41, has died in an accident on a diving holiday in Mexico.

MacColl was best known for her 1987 Christmas hit with The Pogues, Fairytale of New York.

Daughter of folk singer Ewan MacColl, Kirsty was originally in the punk band Drug Addix  and released her first solo single 'They Don't Know' in 1979. Though the track failed to reach the charts, it was a worldwide hit a few years afterwards when it was covered by Tracey Ullman.

Kirsty was a friend of U2 since their earliest days and for many years was the partner of the band’s longtime producer Steve Lillywhite.

She shot to fame with her single 'There's A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop (Swears He's Elvis)' in May 1981. She went on to further chart success with 'A New England' in 1985, a cover of the Billy Bragg original, 'Days' in 1989 and her most popular track, her duet with Shane MacGowan on The Pogues' 1987 Christmas classic 'Fairytale Of New York'.

'I remember Kirsty McColl as just a really brainy, funny girl ,' said Bono. 'Whose songwriting  came from all different traditions. She had that folk thing even though she would fight it off, but I just remember her humour, it was really funny.'

Bono also recalled that Kirsty McColl played a hitherto unknown but significant role in one of U2's biggest albums - deciding on the running order.

'She actually sequenced The Joshua Tree believe it or not. ' said Bono. 'When we finished making that album she was in the studio with Steve Lillywhite who produced the record with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois and she was the one who said  'That should be track 1, that should be track 2 .....I have very special personal memories of her.'

Kirsty McColl 's albums included 'Electric Landlady', 'Titanic Days' and her most recent release, this year's 'Tropical Brainstorm'. She also collaborated with many  musicians including Talking Heads, Simple Minds and Robert Plant.

The most recent recording,' Tropical Brainstorm',   was a tribute to Cuban music, which had influenced her throughout the 1990s. She  recently recorded an eight-part series on the music, culture, and  history of Cuba, inspired by her love of Cuban music. The series, largely recorded in Havana, featured interviews with Talking Heads' David Byrne, Ry Cooder and  Buena Vista Social Club members including Reuben Gonzales.

The series, for BBC Radio 2 in the UK, was to have begun this week but will now be delayed as a mark of respect.

We extend our condolences to her family and friends at this  sad time.


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