#NotComics: This Sunday, Soho Square saw the annual KirstyFest celebration. Where fans of the late singer/songwriter Kirsty MacColl gather around her bench to sing her songs, then head to the pub to do similar with acoustics and, in this case, out of the rain.
Here’s a little video of what went down.
Kirsty MacColl recorded several pop hits in the 1980s and 1990s, including There’s a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis and cover versions of Billy Bragg‘s A New England and The Kinks’ Days. Her song They Don’t Know was covered with great success by Tracey Ullman. MacColl also sang on recordings produced by her husband Steve Lillywhite, most notably Fairytale of New York by The Pogues.
In 2000, following her participation in the presentation of a radio programme for the BBC in Cuba, MacColl took a holiday in Cozumel, Mexico, with her sons and her partner, musician James Knight. On 18 December 2000, she and her sons went diving at the Chankanaab reef, part of the National Marine Park of Cozumel, in a designated diving area that watercraft were restricted from entering. With the group was a local veteran divemaster, Iván Díaz. As the group were surfacing from a dive, a powerboat moving at high speed entered the restricted area. MacColl saw the boat coming before her sons did; Louis (then 13) was not in its path, but Jamie (then 15) was. She was able to push him out of the way (he sustained minor head and rib injuries), but she was struck by the boat which ran over her. MacColl suffered severe chest injuries and died instantly. MacColl’s family launched the Justice for Kirsty campaign in response to the events surrounding her death.
In 2001, a bench was placed by the southern entrance to London’s Soho Square as a memorial to her, after a lyric from one of her song of the same name which goes “One day I’ll be waiting there / No empty bench in Soho Square”. Every year on the Sunday nearest to MacColl’s birthday, 10 October, fans from all over the world hold a gathering at the bench to pay tribute to her and sing her songs.