World Party, The Waterboys' Karl Wallinger Passes Away, Aged 66

13 March 2024 | 1:47 pm | Mary Varvaris

The Waterboys singer Mike Scott called his former bandmate "one of the finest musicians [he's] ever known."

Karl Wallinger in World Party's 'Is It Like Today?' music video

Karl Wallinger in World Party's 'Is It Like Today?' music video (Source: YouTube)

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Karl Wallinger, a Welsh musician best known for his mid-1980s period with The Waterboys and leading the band World Party, has passed away, per a report from his publicist.

He was 66 years old. No cause of death has been announced.

Wallinger joined The Waterboys as the band’s keyboard player in 1983, touring with the band after releasing their self-titled debut album and contributing to their second album, A Pagan Place (1984) and third album, This Is The Sea (1985). He also joined the band on consequent tours.

At first, Wallinger provided backing vocals and played the piano and organ before contributing further to The Waterboys’ music on their third album, playing a significant part in the band’s reputed “Big Music” sound.

Wallinger was replaced by future collaborator Guy Chambers after departing the band and went on to work on Sinéad O'Connor's 1987 debut album, The Lion And The Cobra, while preparing solo material.

With World Party, Wallinger released five albums: 1987’s Private Revolution (ARIA #13 album), 1990’s Goodbye Jumbo (#70 in Australia), 1993’s Bang! (#40 in Australia), 1997’s Egyptology, and 2000’s Dumbing Up. The band released a greatest hits compilation, Best In Show, in 2007 and the live album, World Party Live, in 2014.

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The Egyptology track She’s The One went on to win an Ivor Novello Award when Robbie Williams covered the song in 1999. The Robbie Williams version was massively successful in the UK, getting to #1 – recorded without Wallinger’s permission.

In 2001, Wallinger suffered a brain aneurysm that made it impossible for him to work in music, but he later returned to touring.

Peter Gabriel wrote that he was “shocked and saddened” by Wallinger’s passing on social media, recalling instances of working with the artist and his “overflowing with wonderful musical ideas that blew us all away, all delivered with terrible jokes that had us laughing uncontrollably all day and night.

“He was such a gifted, natural writer and player, it was a tap that he could turn on at will, effortlessly.”

Gabriel continued, “Like many a great comic and many great musicians, melancholy was strong in the mix, but his charm, humility, intelligence and razor-sharp wit made him great company. Karl was an abundant talent and we have been given extraordinary music and memories from this extraordinary man.”

Sheryl Crow also expressed her sadness at Wallinger’s passing, writing that he was “an amazing talent and made some of my favourite records with World Party.”

Julian Lennon added that the world has “lost another Good’un”, and Waterboys founder and vocalist Mike Scott wrote, “Travel on well, my old friend. You are one of the finest musicians I've ever known.”