SINGER and songwriter Kirsty MacColl died yesterday in a holiday accident in Mexico. She was hit by a speedboat while swimming in the sea close to the coral island of Cozumel, which is off the Yucatan peninsula.
The singer was holidaying there with her two sons, Jamie and Louis, who were both with her in the water at the time but were not injured. Kirsty, a keen diver, was in an area reserved for swimmers.
U2's Bono led the tributes yesterday: "I remember Kirsty as just a really brainy, funny girl whose songwriting came from all different traditions. I just remember her humour really."
Her former husband Steve Lillywhite was flying out to Mexico to comfort the children.
Her manager Kevin Nixon of Major Minor Management, who worked with her for four years, said: "We are absolutely distraught. I was personally immensely proud to be her manager after being a fan for so many years before that."
BBC TV presenter Jools Holland who recently hosted a performance by MacColl on his Later series on BBC2, said: "I'm shocked by the sad news of her death. My thoughts go out to her family at this tragic time."
The 41-year-old star, whose biggest hit Fairytale of New York was with The Pogues in 1987, was the daughter of folk singer Ewan MacColl.
Kirsty was enormously respected by her peers for her sharp wit and angelic voice but she was media-shy, a singer-songwriter who never tried to be fashionable.
She was born in London on October 10, 1959, and grew up in Croydon with her mother Jean Newlove, who was a dancer and choreographer.
She released her first single They Don't Know, when she was only 19 and while the track failed to reach the charts, it was a massive hit a few years later when it was covered by Tracey Ullman.
Kirsty's big break came in 1981 with the charming and witty single There's A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis.
While she wrote plenty of her own songs, she was always acclaimed for her performance of other people's, having had hits with Billy Bragg's A New England, The Kinks' Days and Lou Reed's Perfect Day.
Some critics believed she sold herself short over the years and, after 20 years on the fringes of stardom, she remarked herself: "I've never been fashionable. But I've never been unfashionable either."