Kirsty MacColl, (October 10, 1959 - December 18, 2000) daughter of folk singer Ewan MacColl and dancer Jean Newlove, was a British singer-songwriter, who died tragically while saving her son's life. Her career with Stiff Records was patchy to say the least. Despite her hits with a cover of Billy Bragg's "A New England" (No.7 in the UK), which included an extra verse, and writing credits such as Tracey Ullman's "They Don't Know", a UK No.2 in Britain. (Kirsty's version, released in 1979 was an air play hit, but never reached the shops due to a distributors strike), Kirsty never managed a full album on the label, and seemed to lack Stiffs's full backing. Pop singles such as "Terry" and "He's On the Beach" went nowhere, and Kirsty's humourous pop lyrics were lost on the British public. Her cause was not helped by severe stage fright, which first struck during her early tours and which she never truly overcame. Her talents meant she was rarely short of session work as a backing vocalist, and she frequently sang on records produced or engineered by her erstwhile husband, Steve Lillywhite, including tracks for The Smiths, Van Morrison and Talking Heads amongst others.
Kirsty re-emerged at the top of the British charts in December 1987 with The Pogues on "Fairytale Of New York", a duet with Shane McGowan. After giving birth to two sons and a long period of silence, she bounced back as a songwriter and artist of substance, with the sublime Kite LP in 1989, widely praised by critics and featuring David Gilmour and Johnny Marr. She continued to write releasing the albums Titanic Days (1993), Electric Landlady (1995) and world music inspired Tropical Brainstorm (2000), often described as her finest work.
On December 18, 2000, while swimming in a restricted diving area, with her family on a Mexican holiday, she was killed in a collision with a powerboat. No one has ever been held to account for the tragic accident and Kirsty's family are campaigning for a judicial review into the events surrounding her death.
Since her death, Billy Bragg has always included "her" extra verse when performing "A New England".