Monday, December 29, 2008

Kirsty MacColl

It's that time of year when Kirsty MacColl's voice seems to be coming out of every radio and pub jukebox, singing along with Shane MacGowan on The Pogues' Fairytale of New York. It's also a time to remember her tragic death, killed by a speedboat while swimming with her kids in Mexico on 18 December 2000.

A compilation released after her death is entitled 'From Croydon to Cuba', and she did indeed grow up in South London in Beech Way, Selsdon, going to Monks Hill Comprehensive School (later re-named Selsdon High School). She started out in a pub rock band, the Tooting Frootis, later re-named The Drug Addix. The latter put out a 1978 EP on Chiswick Records which includes the South-London suburb referencing Addington Shuffle. It was recorded at RMS Studios in Clifton Road, Thornton Heath, which Kirsty later used for some solo material (incidentally The Monochrome Set and St Etienne also recorded there).

Her final album, the Latin-infused Tropical Brainstorm (2000) was also partially recorded in South London, at her long-time collaborator Pete Glenister's studio in Bermondsey.

Kirsty had an ambivalent relationship with her father, the folk singer Ewan MacColl, as he split up with her mother shortly after her birth. But it is clear that the adult influences on her childhood included some interesting people who lived in South East London at the time. Most important was her mother Jean Newlove (married name Jean MacColl), a dance teacher who had been assistant to Rudolph Laban (later the inspiration for the Laban Centre in Deptford). Ewan MacColl and his new partner Peggy Seeger lived in Cromwell Road, Beckenham. Also signficant was Kirsty's godmother, Joan Littlewood, who had founded the Theatre Workshop with Ewan. She lived in Blackheath and used to take Kirsty for walks in Greenwich Park.

An MA scholarship in Kirsty's name was established at Goldsmiths College in 2001.

Anyway here's Kirsty with the Pogues on St Patrick's Day 1988 (at the Town & Country Club in Camden):

Source for most of the above: Kirsty MacColl: the one and only by Karen O'Brien (2004). Incidentally this book includes a photo entitled 'Kirsty... with the Drug Addix at the Venue, New Cross, south London, 1978'. I'm pretty sure the Venue wasn't called by this name until the end of the 80s - previously it was the Harp Club. So presumably this is a mistake - there was also a place called The Venue in Victoria around that time, maybe the photo was taken there.

See also: Suburban relapse; Shiraz Socialist on Kirsty.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The great Ewan MacColl

he still has not got the recognition he deserves almost single handedly saved British Folk from the rich

And you cannot doubt his committment to the British workers during strikes such as the great miners strike in the 1980's