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Karl Wallinger Dies: World Party & The Waterboys Singer-Songwriter Was 66

Karl Wallinger, the frontman of World Party who earlier played with The Waterboys, died March 10 at 66. No cause or location was given by his publicist in the confirmation.

The Welsh-born songwriter wrote World Party’s “Ship of Fools,” “Put the Message in the Box,” “Is It Like Today?” and “She’s the One,” which later was a hit cover for Robbie Williams.

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Born Karl Edmond de Vere Wallinger on October 19 1957, he began his musical career in various bands as a keyboard player, then took a job in music publishing, which was followed by a brief stint as the musical director of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Wallinger joined the Waterboys in 1983 and played on their first three albums as a multi-instrumentalist, including on its biggest hit, “The Whole of the Moon.” That track reached the Top 30 in the UK before its 1991 re-release hit No. 3.

He formed World Party in 1986 after leaving the Waterboys, and Wallinger also worked on Sinéad O’Connor’s 1987 debut album, The Lion and the Cobra.

His first album release as World Party, Private Revolution, contained the hit “Ship of Fools,” which peaked at No 27 in the UK charts and hit No. 5 in the U.S. Mainstream Rock tally. The 1990 follow-up Goodbye Jumbo spawned the group’s biggest Stateside hit in “Way Down Now,” which topped Billboard’s Modern Rock chart for five weeks. Lead single “Put the Message in the Box” made the Top 10 on that chart.

World Party’s 1993 album Bang! hit No. 2 in the UK and featured another U.S. Top 5 Mainstream Rock hit in “Is It Like Today?” Former Take That singer Williams covered the band’s “She’s the One,” from its 1997 album Egyptology, hit No. 1 in the UK in 1999.

Wallinger suffered a brain aneurysm in February 2001. He was recovering for the next five years before returning to touring in 2006.

The Waterboys lead singer, Mike Scott, paid tribute to Wallinger on Monday in a social media post on X, calling him “one of the finest musicians I’ve ever known.” He added, “Travel on well my old friend.”

Wallinger is survived by his wife, Suzie Zamit, his son, Louis Wallinger, his daughter, Nancy Zamit, and two grandchildren.

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