News from 2003
Kirsty’s rendition of Miss Otis regrets was included on the Jools Holland Hootenanny DVD. Also, the latest episode in Jools Holland’s Friends series, Jack o’ the Green, included a splendid new version of a 1983 song which Jools originally recorded in a session with Pino Palladino, Rico, Dick Cuthell and Lu Edmonds and Kirsty. The track being revisited was Shutting the doors. Source: Eunice
News from 2004
In March, the 6th Annual Habanos Festival (Cuban Cigar Festival) was held at the "San Carlos de la Cabaña" Fortress with cigar aficionados from around the world in attendance, including Jenny Reppard, granddaughter of late British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, a notorious cigar smoker. In 1947 Cuba coined a cigar brand after his name during Churchill’s visit. The Festival´s organizers arranged an auction in "El Laguito" on February 27 as part of the closing dinner, and the Kirsty MacColl Foundation auctioned one of the singer´s guitars. The $1,200 raised was to be donated to the Cuban education fund. Source: PM/JM
Jean MacColl presented a dossier of new evidence to the Federal Prosecutor’s office in Cozumel, Mexico on March 12. Accompanied by lawyer Demetrio Guerra and Campaign supporter Fred Shortland, Jean began her legal fight to call Kirsty’s killers to account. The Justice for Kirsty Campaign then moved on to Mexico City where Jean and her colleagues were able to voice their concerns in meetings at the very highest level. The Mexican Authorities were unswerving in their pledges and determination to help. The Ministers were attentive, compassionate and understanding; all of which has been of great comfort to Jean. The Campaign must now change its focus to raising funds to ensure that the costs involved in continuing the legal battle to get Justice for Kirsty and to secure a fitting tribute to her memory can be met. Jean has achieved something quite extraordinary, something that would have made Kirsty extremely proud and something that is inspirational to all. The two weeks spent in Mexico must be seen as an unmitigated success.
Kirsty’s mother, Jean MacColl, led a deeply poignant memorial ceremony at the place over the coral reef where Kirsty died. A small launch carried Jean and a dozen supporters from the simple jetty at Playa Corona. Jean cast a beautiful wreath of tropical flowers onto the sea. It bore a ribbon with the simple inscription: Kirsty – Goodbye to an Angel. Then the group listened to family friend John Dalby speak a moving verse of remembrance from one of Kirsty’s songs. Each member of the party dropped a single rose after the wreath. A few minutes of silent contemplation and tears followed as people in the group each remembered Kirsty in their own hearts. Then, as the sun set over the limpid water the launch returned to the pier.
In August, Karen O’Brien’s biography of Kirsty was published.
The premiere of the BBC4 film “Who Killed Kirsty MacColl” took place at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, with a guest panel of Jean MacColl, producer Olivia Lichtenstein, Senior Commissioning Executive Richard Klein and chair Stephen Armstrong, Sunday Times critic. The film itself was an excellent and compelling piece of work, starting with Kirsty’s life story (including some rare TV appearances) before turning to focus on the events surrounding Kirsty’s death and its aftermath, including eye witness accounts and coverage of the campaign team’s mission to Cozumel and Mexico City earlier this year. Contributors included Jean, James Knight, Steve Lillywhite, Louis Lillywhite, Fred Shortland, John Dalby, Philip Rambow, Charles Dickins, Demetrio Guerra and eye witnesses from Cozumel.
The Q&A session revealed that the film was created as an emotional travelogue rather than a purely investigative reportage, playing to the strengths of Lichtenstein’s style. It was also explained that the British Foreign Office had been initially reluctant to lend their support to the campaign, in response to a question from the floor. Jean MacColl presented her case for the continuing pursuit of justice forcefully. On Friday 24th September, the documentary Who Killed Kirsty MacColl was screened on BBC4 (repeated on Saturday and Sunday).
With the box set From Croydon to Cuba delayed until next year, the track Head was replaced in the running order by a song called Manhattan Moon, written by Philip Chevron for a musical he was working on with Declan Lynch in 2000, called Jack Rooney: In person. It was to be an Irish emigration story, and Kirsty’s song was about leaving Ireland in search of a new life in America.
The Justice For Kirsty Campaign continued to attract good press coverage, and was featured in The Telegraph, The Times, Sky News, BBC, NME, Sunday Times and even the Malaysia Star.
Photographer (and long time friend of Kirsty) Charlie Dickins decided to make some of his photos of Kirsty available for sale in aid of the JFK Campaign (50% of the profits went to the campaign).
October saw the annual Soho Square gathering in good voice, with around 100 fans, friends and family met at Kirsty’s Bench in Soho Square at mid-day for dedications and a few songs before repairing to the Wheatsheaf pub in Rathbone Place for drinks, a bit to eat and more singing, including guest spots by Mark Nevin and Phil Rambow in addition to resident guitarists John Meranda, Nick Brown, Terry Hurley and Phil Whiteley. There was much fundraising going on for the Justice For Kirsty Campaign, with over £770 raised on the day. The sixty limited edition "I LIKE KIRSTY" badges fetched £160, a lovely ink drawing of the Bench on the day by Denise Keir, one of Jean MacColl’s oldest friends, was signed by Jean, Louis Lillywhite, Mark Nevin and Phil Rambow (pictured left with his daughter and Terry & John) and raised £45 in auction, I believe similar sums were fetched by some signed first edition copies of Karen O’Brien’s biography, and the remainder donated via the collection buckets and JFK teeshirts.
In November, UK music and entertainment magazine Word featured a section on the 40 best album titles ever. These included The Gilded Palace of Sin, Revolver, Lead Us Not Into Penn Station, Automatic for the People, and My People Were Fair and Wore Sky in Their Hair But Now They’re Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows. The final album listed, with the label ‘And the best album title ever is…’, was Electric Landlady. The comment: ‘Warm, funny, clever, able to win over the hardest of hearts – just like the artist herself.’ Thanks to Tia (actually Den!!) for spotting it first.
In December, Fairytale of New York was voted favourite Christmas song in a poll by music TV channel VH1.
News from 2005
In February the freeworld forum was destroyed over the weekend by an internet worm attack! we rebuilt it.
March 18th saw the BBC2 screening of the documentary Who Killed Kirsty MacColl.
Kirsty got quite a lot of music press attention with a CD reissue programme in addition to the 3cd box set From Croydon to Cuba. The Telegraph was enthusiastic about the box set: Robert Sandall wrote that $quot;not all the 65 tracks here are classics – like most box sets, this contains a sprinkling of rare or unreleased what-nots which collectors love but others skip. But the story they tell is riveting. MacColl was blessed with a voice in both senses … (a) strong, clear and sweet (voice) which retained a folky purity … and the way this voice spoke was sardonic, witty and wickedly observant of masculine frailties…. she sounded like a feminine Ian Dury. Remarkably, some of MacColl’s most memorable pronouncements were made in other people’s songs which effectively became her own.”
The song I am afraid (credited to Kirsty in the sleeve notes) was actually written by Irish singer Dave Couse with his 1992 band A House. The website has been corrected to reflect this. When compiling the set, there was no indication with the tapes that it was not Kirsty’s own song, and her fellow musicians at the time were also unaware of it. Apparently this is not uncommon with unreleased archive material. Luckily a post to the freeworld forum alerted us to the song’s true parentage, and its corrected attribution made known.
In July, a digital download single featuring a new version of Sun on the Water (re-recorded and produced by Pete Glenister and mixed by Steve Lillywhite at Townhouse Studios) was released by EMI on July 18th, with a possible commercial CD single backed with Days originally touted to be released on the same date.
In December the Pogues kindly agreed to raise funds for the Justice For Kirsty Campaign at their winter tour. Also, Fairytale of New York was reissued by WEA in 7″ vinyl, CD and DVD (including the video and a live Top Of The Pops performance). The band donated royalties to charities for the homeless, but it is believed part of the proceeds went to the Justice For Kirsty Campaign. The download version featuring Katie Melua was first mentioned by Philip Chevron, “our record company is currently negotiating with iTunes about the possibility of providing a special download version of the song which would be recorded live during our Christmas tour. As anyone who has seen the band live in recent years will know, a succession of female singers have performed Kirsty’s parts on stage and we are still, at this late stage, in discussion about the performer for this tour. The important point here is that downloads will count towards the chart figures, but obviously and sadly, Kirsty is unable to perform the duty of performing the song live. We are doing our best here to maintain the integrity of the record and of our collaboration with Kirsty while at the same time satisfying the commercial concerns of the record company who do feel, as much as Kirsty fans and Pogues fans do, that we were “robbed” of the No I slot in 1987 and will be working their butts off to try to remedy that this year.”
The Story of Fairytale of New York was first aired on BBC3 19th December @ 21:00.