ATV Choice: Kirsty MacColl: A Tribute

Vintage TVVintage TV celebrate the life of the late singer Kirsty MacColl, who died in a boating incident in 2000.

In Kirsty MacColl: A Tribute the music channel is to reflect upon the supreme talents of one of Britain’s greatest singer songwriters.

Kirsty Anna MacColl was born on the 10th of October in 1959 to folk singer Ewan MacColl and dancer Jean Newlove. Her debut solo single They Don’t Know was released in 1979 and peaked at number 2 in the airplay Music Week chart. However, a distributors’ strike prevented copies of the single reaching the record store shelves and the release consequently failed to appear on the UK Singles Chart.

It however was successfully covered by Tracey Ullman, with MacColl on backing vocals, in 1983 when it reached number two in the UK Singles Chart and number eight on the USA Billboard. It was later used as the theme tune to Ullman’s television series Tracey Takes On….

MacColl however had success in her own right with the critically acclaimed There’s a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears he’s Elvis of 1981 and a cover of Billy Bragg’s A New England in 1985. Along the way came television themes and collaborations including the legendary festive union with The Pogues on Fairytale of New York, a duet with Shane MacGowan which reached number two in the UK charts. MacColl also worked extensively as a backing singer including tracks for Robert Plant, Happy Mondays, The Smiths, Simple Minds, Talking Heads, Big Country, ABBA’s Anni-Frid Lyngstad and The Wonder Stuff to name a few.

In 1989 she recorded her second, of ultimately five, albums. This gave her the still much-played on easy listening stations top twenty hit Days, a cover of The Kinks sixties single. The ablum also contained another classic, Don’t Come The Cowboy With Me Sonny Jim! At this time Kirsty was also becoming a regular on television thanks to featuring on BBC comedy’s French and Saunders sketch show alongside title comediennes Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders. Other notable appearances included on music show Later with Jools Holland, music quiz Never Mind The Buzzcocks and of course chart show Top of the Pops.

The 1990s saw MacColl appear less on television and in the recording studio as she took time out to be a mother, however by 2000 she’d returned to the scene with a brand new album inspired by Latin American music. It was another album which was gifted with critical acclaim. It included the song In These Shoes which has gone onto be used in numerous television series. In December 2000 however Kirsty’s come-back was cut short when she died under suspicious circumstances.

Kirsty was killed while on holiday in Cozumel, Mexico, with her sons and her partner, musician James Knight. Having gone diving she was resurfacing the sea when a speeding powerboat entered the waters, which were restricted from the area. MacColl saw the boat coming before her sons did; Louis was not in the boat’s path, but Jamie was. She was able to push him out of the way but in doing so, she was hit by the boat and killed instantly.

The boat involved in the accident was owned by Mexican supermarket millionaire Guillermo González Nova, who has since been at the receiving end of a Justice for Kirsty campaign lead by her mother and became a BBC documentary.

Money talks, and the millionaire shirked his blame, according to witnesses, by paying one of his staff to admit to driving the boat instead. Several published reports have included accounts from eyewitnesses that have stated Cen Yam was not at the controls however the Mexican authorities remain un-supportive of a proper review of the case determined to make sure the millionaire won’t be held accountable for murdering the singing talent.

However Kirsty’s music goes on and Vintage TV will be celebrating that legacy on Sunday.

Kirsty MacColl: A Tribute, Sunday at 5pm on Vintage TV