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1 December 2023, 12:40
She was a star that came from folk music royalty.
Kirsty MacColl made her name as a unique singer, that embraced sounds of the era like new wave and alternative rock, yet remained tied to her folk roots.
Despite being a successful artist in her own right, MacColl also collaborated with various artists throughout the 1980s, singing backing vocals for the likes of The Smiths and Simple Minds.
The perennial festive favourite propelled MacColl into pop stardom the following decade, before her life was tragically cut short.
But how did Kirsty MacColl die?
Kirsty MacColl was an English singer-songwriter who was born in Croydon, London on 10th October in 1959.
She was the daughter of Ewan MacColl, one of the prominent figures in the folk-revival during the 1960s in the UK, founding England's first-ever folk music club, The Ballads and Blues Club.
His songs have been covered by countless artists over the years, one of the most successful being Roberta Flack's rendition of his gorgeous ballad, 'The First Ever I Saw Your Face'.
There was also a connection between Ewan's 1956 song 'Dirty Old Town' and the band with which his daughter Kirsty would later find her fame, after The Pogues covered the song in 1985.
After discovering punk music in the late 1970s, Kirsty MacColl pursued a career in music herself, starting out in Croydon punk rock band Drug Addix, with MacColl taking up backing vocal duties under the pseudonym Mandy Doubt.
An unsuccessful attempt to get signed proved fruitful for Kirsty, as record executives liked her and signed her as a solo artist.
Kirsty MacColl achieved success as a solo singer throughout a career spanning over two decades, though it got off to a rocky start when the charts were concerned.
Her debut 1979 single, 'They Don't Know', peaked at number two on the airplay charts after its release, but due to a distributor's strike which meant records couldn't reach the record stores, the single failed to enter the UK charts at the time.
In 1981 that all changed, with the release of the country-pop song 'There's a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis' scoring MacColl a top 20 hit, going on to reach number seven in the charts several years later to cover Billy Bragg's 'A New England' going on to become her biggest ever solo hit.
Though, through happenstance, the song she'd be remembered for would be her duet with Shane MacGowan and The Pogues on 1987's 'Fairytale Of New York'.
Her husband Steve Lillywhite produced the Celtic punks' forthcoming album, for which they wanted a Christmas single for.
Taking it home to his wife, MacColl provided some vocal parts for it, which The Pogues loved so much they ended up keeping.
In December 2000 after a stint recording a television programme in Cuba, Kirsty MacColl visited Cozumel, Mexico for a holiday with her two sons and boyfriend James Knight.
Diving with her two boys in a reef, the area was designated as a watercraft-restricted zone.
As they resurfaced from the dive however, a powerboat entered the restricted zone at a dangerously high speed.
MacColl saw the boat and managed to push her son Jamie out of its path, but she was sadly struck by the powerboat, suffering severe head and chest injuries which killed her on impact.
Her body was repatriated to her birthplace of the United Kingdom, and MacColl was cremated at a funeral service at Mortlake Crematorium in Kew on 20th January 2001.
The powerboat responsible for Kirsty MacColl's death was owned by Carlos González Nova, founder of the Comercial Mexicana supermarket chain and the brother of the chain's multimillionaire president, Guillermo González Nova.
An employee of Guillermo, José Cen Yam, said he was in control of the boat at the time of the incident, and was later found guilty of culpable homicide and sentenced to two years and ten months in prison.
He evaded a prison sentence however, being allowed to pay a meagre fine of just £61 in lieu of a sentence, leading to claims he took the blame for the incident for a payout by his employers.
MacColl's family launched the Justice For Kirsty campaign soon after, pushing for a judicial review due to the lack of cooperation from the Mexican government.
Carlos González Nova died of natural causes at the age of 92 in 2009, leading to the dissolution of the Justice For Kirsty campaign, with all remaining funds being donated to charity, of which "Kirsty would have approved" according to her family.