World Party and The Waterboys star Karl Wallinger has died, aged 66

Karl Wallinger in 1990
(Image credit: Getty Images/Martyn Goodacre)

Karl Wallinger, World Party frontman and songwriter, died at the weekend aged 66, it was confirmed last night.

A statement reads, "Karl Wallinger, the Welsh-born musician and composer better known as the singular force behind World Party, died Sunday March 10. 

"Karl leaves behind a loving family including wife Suzie Zamit, son Louis Wallinger, daughter Nancy Zamit and two grandchildren. The family invites Karl’s friends and fans to share their thoughts on his Facebook page or Instagram."

Wallinger was best known for his work with World Party, writing and recording finely crafted pop-rock like Ship Of Fools, Put The Message In The Box and Is It Like Today?

He first found fame as a key member of the Waterboys, contributing keyboards and, crucially, arrangements for the band's first two albums, A Pagan Place (1984) and This Is the Sea (1985) which featured the band's global smash Whole of The Moon.

Mike Scott, leader of The Waterboys once wrote, "having Karl in the studio was like having a one-man orchestra around. There might have been a This Is the Sea without him, but it wouldn't have been the same – or as good."

Scott, naturally, led tributes to Wallinger last night, posting "Travel on well my old friend. You are one of the finest musicians I've ever known."

Born in 1957 in Prestatyn, Wales, Wallinger's first band, Pax, saw him hone his craft alongside future members of The Alarm, before emerging as an established talent with The Waterboys in the mid-'80s. 

Following the success of the band's first two albums, Wallinger struck out on his own, forming World Party. The band - essentially a solo project - released five critically acclaimed albums, beginning with debut Private Revolution in 1986. 

World Party's final album was 2000's Dumbing Up. Alongside plaudits from critics and fans, Wallinger garnered plenty of hits, including Message in the Box and Way Down Now. His biggest single success was probably as writer of She's The One, from the band's fourth album, Egyptology. It won Wallinger a prestigious Ivor Novello songwriting award in 1997 and became a UK number-one and global smash when covered by Robbie Williams in 1999.

“The song had a much better time than me, popping off to the Brits while I was at home eating crackers dipped in water,” he told The Telegraph in 2012. “It was lucky it was a hit. It saved my arse financially for a few years while I was holding on to the handrail thinking, ‘What happened?’”

in 2001, Wallinger's career was stalled when he suffered a brain aneurysm, but he returned to the live scene in 2006.

"What I've been through, it's made me feel that all the stuff we worry about is not worth worrying about," he told the Chicago Sun-Times in 2012. "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

Will Groves

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