Former Waterboys member Karl Wallinger, World Party creator, dies.

London— Karl Wallinger, multi-instrumentalist and World Party frontman and former Waterboy, died. Wallinger, 66, died Sunday, his publicist said. No death cause was given. After musically directing “The Rocky Horror Show” in London's West End, Wallinger joined The Waterboys on keyboards in 1983, playing synthesizer and singing backup vocals on their most successful song, “The Whole of the Moon.”

On Monday, Waterboys founder Mike Scott praised him “one of the finest musicians I've ever known” on X, formerly Twitter. “Travel on well my old friend,” he added. Wallinger founded World Party in 1985, influenced by the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, and Sly Stone, due to creative differences with Scott.

Wallinger told Penny Black Music in 2022 that it was clear it wouldn't go anywhere else. “Mike Scott was controlling, and that was it—he wasn’t into doing anything together.” World Party was more popular on alternative radio than pop radio, despite multiple hits.

“Ship of Fools” peaked at No. 5 on Billboard's 1987 mainstream rock chart. “Way Down Now,” topped the 1990 U.S. Billboard alternative chart. “Is it Like Today” was his biggest U.K. hit, reaching No. 19 in 1993. Robbie Williams' 1999 No. 1 single was Wallinger's “She's the One”.

Wallinger sang on Sinéad O'Connor's second album, "Goodbye Jumbo," which was nominated for a Grammy for best alternative music performance. The 1990 Q Magazine album of the year was Jumbo. Wallinger recorded with Peter Gabriel on his Big Blue Ball album along with many others.

Gabriel told X he was startled and grieved by the death. He had appreciated Wallinger's work before, but working with him on the most creative and entertaining studio week he had made him appreciate it more.

Karl was overflowing with wonderful musical ideas that blew us all away, all delivered with terrible jokes that had us laughing uncontrollably all day and night,” Gabriel remarked. "He was such a gifted, natural writer and player, he could turn it on and off easily."

U.K. artist management organization Enable Music's Mike Andrews termed Wallinger a “genius who was never appreciated as widely as (he) should have been.” He worked with him on two albums. Wallinger was musical director for Ben Stiller's 1994 picture "Reality Bites," starring Ethan Hawke and Winona Ryder.

As a teenager in Prestatyn, Wales, Wallinger played in PAX, a punk band with Nigel Twist and Dave Sharp, who later join The Alarm. Twist recounted on Instagram that they used Wallinger's loft to jam. Twist termed him “an extraordinary talent, gifted singer/songwriter and multi-talented musician and producer.”

His songs never fail to reach deep inside and touch your soul,” Twist remarked. “Regardless of how you feel, his music would fill you with joy, hope, and love for a better world.” After a brain aneurysm in 2001, Wallinger spent years learning to talk and perform instruments. He resumed touring five years later but never recorded again.

Wallinger told Penny Black Music that William's popular cover of “She's the One” saved him financially after his health setback. Wallinger stated, “It was lucky for me that he did it, because he kept us all in biscuits.” The kids would have had to be sold, and everything would have altered. Destroyed the house and everything. The Wallinger family includes wife Suzie Zamit, son Louis, daughter Nancy, and two grandchildren.


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