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BBC Radio 2 producer John Leonard:
""She was great fun to be with"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 20 December, 2000, 13:28 GMT
Music industry mourns MacColl
Amateur footage taken at Cozumel, close to the incident
Friends and colleagues in the music industry are continuing to pay tribute to singer and songwriter Kirsty MacColl, who has died at the age of 41.

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 MacColl's former husband, music producer Steve Lillywhite, has flown out to Mexico to comfort them.

MacColl: Sadly missed
Throughout her career, MacColl had worked with a wide range of artists from the Rolling Stones to the Pogues, and had more recently become influenced by the Cuban music scene.

She had also made a BBC Radio 2 documentary series about Cuban music.

The broadcast, due to go out on Wednesday, was recorded 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.

Its producer, John Leonard, told the BBC he admired the musician's one-off quality.

Anyone that didn't meet her has missed out

Paul Conroy, Virgin Records

"She didn't follow fashions in music in any way," he said. "She was a fantastically individual writer and I think her songs are enormously witty.

"Her last album contained Cuban songs, even though that kind of music wasn't particularly hip at the time. She obviously just thought about what she was doing, rather than what the trends were."

MacColl's musical career began after splitting from punk band Drug Addix in 1979, when she signed with legendary label Stiff Records, which was also home to Ian Dury.

Stiff's manager Paul Conroy was introduced to her at the Electric Ballroom venue in Camden, north London, in 1978.

She was always herself and said 'I am what I am'

Johnnie Walker, BBC Radio 2
Now president of Virgin Records UK, he said he was "just blown away by her - her vibe and everything".

"From the first time I met her I knew she had something," he recalled.

"For me and the people that have known her for years it's a sad day indeed. Anyone that didn't meet her has missed out."

He added: "It's not been a great year for Stiff, what with Ian Dury dying this year, it's one we'd rather put behind us."

'I am what I am'

Broadcaster Jools Holland, who had MacColl as a guest on his Later show on BBC Two, said: "I'm shocked by the sad news of her death. My thoughts go out to her family at this tragic time."

BBC Radio 2 DJ Johnnie Walker, a friend of the singer, said he was "shocked" to hear the news.

"She was one of the true, real characters of popular music and although there has been pressure on women in music to conform in the music business, she was always herself and said 'I am what I am'.

'Wonderful, unique voice'

"We'll miss her sense of humour and her beautifully crafted songs."

Paul Trynker, editor of music magazine Mojo, paid tribute to her "wonderful, unique voice".

"She made it under her own steam, and just recently she cut a very fine album. She was still in very fine form, and it's a sad loss," he said.

"She was always immune to passing fads - never mind the top 10, she'd always be pleasing fans around the world."

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See also:

19 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Singer Kirsty MacColl dies
19 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Kirsty MacColl's life of music
20 Dec 00 | Talking Point
Kirsty MacColl: Your tributes
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