Kirsty MacColl; British Singer Drew On Many Traditions

From Associated Press

British singer and songwriter Kirsty MacColl has died after being struck by a speedboat while swimming in Mexico, her management announced Tuesday. She was 41.

MacColl was swimming with her two children at Cozumel, Mexico, on Monday when she was hit by a boat that entered an area reserved for swimmers, said the Outside Organization, a public relations company working for MacColl’s manager, Kevin Nixon.

Her two sons were not injured, the company said.

MacColl released her first record when she was 19. Two years later, she had a top-40 song in Britain with “There’s a Guy Works Down the Chipshop Swears He’s Elvis.”


She may be best remembered for accompanying Shane MacGowan on the Pogues’ 1987 hit “A Fairytale of New York.”

Bono of U2 described her as “the Noel Coward of her generation,” and MacGowan once wondered aloud, “Why is she not massively successful?”

“I remember Kirsty as just a really brainy, funny girl whose songwriting came from all different traditions,” Bono said Tuesday in an interview with Britain’s Sky News. “I just remember her humor really. She was really funny.”

MacColl, the daughter of the late folk singer Ewan MacColl, was born Oct. 10, 1959, and grew up in Croydon, England, with her mother, Jean Newlove, a dancer and choreographer.

She married producer Steve Lillywhite in 1984, and they divorced in 1997. She is survived by her two sons.

For the last few years, MacColl had traveled extensively in Cuba and Brazil, drawing inspiration from Latin music.

“It was like a sudden liberation of my brain. I’d spent so long being unhappy in a very British way, and suddenly there was all this . . . new stuff,” she said recently.

“Whenever I go into the studio I always operate on the principle that I might get hit by a bus tomorrow, and I would hate the obituaries to have to read, ‘Her last album was her not very good album.’ ”