Karl Wallinger

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Karl Wallinger
Birth nameKarl Edmond De Vere Wallinger
Born (1957-10-19) 19 October 1957 (age 63)
Prestatyn, Wales
Genres Pop, alternative, folk rock, indie rock, psychedelic rock
InstrumentsVocals, guitars, drums, keyboards, bass, programming
Associated acts The Waterboys, Robbie Williams, Goldfrapp, Big Blue Ball

Karl Edmond De Vere Wallinger (born 19 October 1957, Prestatyn, Wales) [1] is a Welsh musician, songwriter and record producer. He is best known for leading the band World Party and for his mid-1980s stint in the Waterboys. He also wrote and originally released the song "She's the One", which was later covered by Robbie Williams and became a hit single. [2]


Wallinger is a multi-instrumentalist, enabling him to demo and record the bulk of World Party material as a one-man band. Although he is right-handed, he plays a right-handed guitar upside-down and left-handed. [3]

Early life and early musical work

Wallinger was born in Prestatyn, Wales, and spent his early childhood there, but was educated at Charterhouse (a public school in Surrey). [4] From a young age, he was immersed in the music of the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Bob Dylan and Love. Echoes of these childhood heroes permeated the records he was to release himself 33 years later.

Wallinger's musical career began in Prestatyn in 1977 as a keyboard player with Pax, before forming the short-lived band Quasimodo with Dave Sharp and Nigel Twist (who both went on to be in the Alarm). He then had a brief job in music publishing, after which he became musical director of The Rocky Horror Show .

The Waterboys (1983-1985)

Wallinger was recruited into Mike Scott's band the Waterboys as a keyboard player in 1983, initially touring the first album and contributing to the two following albums (A Pagan Place and This Is the Sea), as well as playing on subsequent live tours. Though he was initially hired to play piano and organ (and to sing occasional backing vocals), his multi-instrumental and production skills impressed Scott and ensured that he played a far greater role on This Is the Sea than he had on the previous album, significantly contributing to the band's 'Big Music' sound. While Scott concentrated on Steve Reichian orchestrations of the songs using multitracked pianos and guitar, Wallinger fleshed out the material with a variety of synthesised orchestrations, synth bass and percussion instruments. Wallinger also wrote the original music for "Don't Bang the Drum" (the opening track for This Is the Sea). Aware that his own musical ambitions would bring him into conflict with Scott, he opted to leave the Waterboys in late 1985 towards the end of their 'This Is the Sea' tour (he was replaced as keyboard player by Guy Chambers, his future collaborator).

While working on solo material, Wallinger also worked on Sinéad O'Connor's 1987 debut album The Lion and the Cobra . O'Connor returned the favour by singing some backing vocals on the first two World Party albums.

World Party (1986–present)

Wallinger's first release under the World Party banner, Private Revolution (1986), was a combination of folk, funk and soul. Its title was a nod to its creation by Wallinger working alone in a home recording studio. It spawned a hit single in "Ship of Fools". Various musical colleagues from former projects contributed to the recordings, including Waterboys saxophonist Anthony Thistlethwaite, Sinéad O'Connor (singing backing vocals on "Hawaiian Island World") and the mysterious Delahaye.

World Party has gone on to release four more well-received albums – Goodbye Jumbo (1990), Bang! (1993), Egyptology (1997) and Dumbing Up (2000). [5] In 2007, Wallinger released Best in Show, a best-of album covering tracks from the studio albums.

Soundtracking, other songwriting and collaborations

Wallinger was musical director for the 1994 film Reality Bites , and contributed to the soundtrack of Clueless in 1995. The Wallinger-penned "She's the One" (originally a World Party song) has been successfully covered by Robbie Williams. Wallinger has also acted as a member of Bob Geldof's backing band.[ citation needed ]

1997 saw two tracks by Wallinger included on a compilation album titled Now And in Time To Be, a musical celebration of the works of famed Irish poet W. B. Yeats. The poem "Politics" is credited as having been interpreted by Wallinger, while World Party is acknowledged as a contributing artist for "The Four Ages of Man". [6]

In 2008, after almost 18 years in the making, the album Big Blue Ball was released, co-produced with Peter Gabriel and Stephen Hague. The album collects songs written and recorded during the summers of 1991, 1992 and 1995 by several artists from different countries. Among them are the French duo, Deep Forest, and the Irish singer, Sinéad O'Connor.

Personal life

He is married to sculptor Suzie Zamit, and they have two children. [4]

In an interview with Chicago Tribune freelancer Jay Hedblade, Wallinger revealed that he suffered a brain aneurysm in February 2001. [7] After several months of writing for the band, he felt unwell, and asked his friends to call an ambulance. He was taken to the hospital and was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. This led him to require surgery wherein the surgeons had to block a nerve near the optic nerve. Despite what would appear to be a full recovery, he lost his peripheral vision on the left side of both eyes. [8] Although the aneurysm meant that he had to suspend all work for nearly five years, he eventually resumed touring in 2006.

Related Research Articles

World Party are a British musical group, which is essentially the solo project of its sole member, Karl Wallinger. He started the band in 1986 in London after leaving The Waterboys.

The Waterboys Scottish-Irish folk rock band

The Waterboys are a Scottish-Irish folk rock band formed in Edinburgh in 1983 by Scottish musician Mike Scott. The band's membership, past and present, has been composed mainly of musicians from Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England. Mike Scott has remained as the only constant member throughout the band's career. They have explored a number of different styles, but their music is mainly a mix of folk music with rock and roll. They dissolved in 1993 when Scott departed to pursue a solo career. The group reformed in 2000, and continue to release albums and to tour worldwide. Scott emphasises a continuity between The Waterboys and his solo work, saying that "To me there's no difference between Mike Scott and the Waterboys; they both mean the same thing. They mean myself and whoever are my current travelling musical companions."

<i>A Pagan Place</i> 1984 studio album by The Waterboys

A Pagan Place was an album released in June 1984 by The Waterboys. It was the first Waterboys record with Karl Wallinger as part of the band and also includes Roddy Lorimer's first trumpet solo for the band on the track "A Pagan Place".

<i>This Is the Sea</i> 1985 studio album by The Waterboys

This Is the Sea is the third The Waterboys album, and the last of their "Big Music" albums. Considered by critics to be the finest album of their early rock-oriented sound, described as "epic" and "a defining moment", it was the first Waterboys album to enter the United Kingdom charts, peaking at number 37. Steve Wickham makes his Waterboys recording debut playing violin on 'The Pan Within' and subsequently joined the band, appearing on the video of "The Whole of the Moon". This Is the Sea is the last album with contributions from Karl Wallinger, who left the group to form his own band, World Party.

<i>Fishermans Blues</i> 1988 studio album by The Waterboys

Fisherman's Blues is a 1988 album by The Waterboys. The album marked a change in the band's sound, with them abandoning their earlier grandiose rock sound for a mixture of traditional Irish music, traditional Scottish music, country music, and rock and roll. Critics were divided on its release with some disappointed at the change of direction and others ranking it among The Waterboys' best work. The album was the Waterboys' best selling album, reaching a number 13 placing on the U.K. charts on release, and 76 on the Billboard 200.

Mike Scott (musician) Scottish songwriter and musician

Michael Scott is a Scottish singer, songwriter and musician. He is the founding member, lead singer, guitarist and songwriter of rock band The Waterboys. He has also produced two solo albums, Bring 'em All In and Still Burning. Scott is a vocalist, guitarist and pianist, and has played a large range of other instruments, including the bouzouki, drums, and Hammond organ on his albums. Scott is also a published writer, having released his autobiography, Adventures of a Waterboy, in 2012.

"She's the One" is a song by British rock band World Party. It was written and produced by Karl Wallinger for World Party's fourth studio album, Egyptology (1997). The song won an Ivor Novello Award in 1997. It was featured in the 1997 movie, The Matchmaker, and the 1998 movie, The Big Hit. World Party performed the song live on British TV show, Later... with Jools Holland in 1998. Robbie Williams recorded a cover of the song in 1998, which reached number one in the UK Singles Chart.

Steve Wickham Irish musician

Steve Wickham is an Irish musician. Originally from Marino, Dublin, but calling Sligo home, Wickham was a founding member of In Tua Nua and played violin on the classic U2 song "Sunday Bloody Sunday", as well as recordings by Elvis Costello, the Hothouse Flowers, Sinéad O'Connor, and World Party. He is a long-standing member of The Waterboys. Wickham plays both rock and roll and traditional Irish music, and has developed a rock music technique for violin he calls the "fuzz fiddle".

Sharon Shannon Irish musician (born 1968)

Sharon Shannon is an Irish musician, best known for her work with the button accordion and for her fiddle technique. She also plays the tin whistle and melodeon. Her self-titled debut album, in 1991, Sharon Shannon was the best-selling album of traditional Irish music ever released in Ireland. Beginning with Irish folk music, her work demonstrates a wide-ranging number of musical influences. She won the lifetime achievement award at the 2009 Meteor Awards.

The Big Music 1984 single by The Waterboys

"The Big Music" is a song from Scottish-Irish folk rock band The Waterboys, which was released in 1984 as the lead single from their second studio album A Pagan Place. The song was written and produced by Mike Scott.

Everybody Takes a Tumble 2007 single by The Waterboys

"Everybody Takes a Tumble" is a song from Scottish-Irish folk rock band The Waterboys, released as the only single from their ninth studio album Book of Lightning. It was written by Mike Scott and Anthony Thistlethwaite, and produced by Scott and Phil Tennant.

<i>Private Revolution</i> 1986 studio album by World Party

Private Revolution is the debut album by the British rock band World Party. At this point, singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Karl Wallinger was the only member of World Party, and the only person pictured on the cover.

<i>Big Blue Ball</i> 2008 studio album by Big Blue Ball (Peter Gabriel and various artists)

Big Blue Ball is an album by multiple artists which "grew from 3 recording weeks" at Peter Gabriel's Real World Studios in the summers of 1991, 1992, and 1995. It is Peter Gabriel's fourteenth album project overall.

<i>Egyptology</i> (album) 1997 studio album by World Party

Egyptology is the fourth studio album by World Party released in 1997, re-released in 2006. It contained the #31 British single "Beautiful Dream" and the award-winning She's the One, among other songs. But the album was not a commercial success, and Karl Wallinger was upset when his label, Chrysalis, used "She's the One" as a vehicle for pop artist Robbie Williams; Williams' version hit #1 on the British pop charts and won Williams several awards. Wallinger later wrote:

I was so lucky that Robbie recorded "She's the One" because it allowed me to keep going [after his aneurysm in 2000]. He nicked my pig and killed it but gave me enough bacon to live on for four years. He kept my kids in school and me in Seaview [Wallinger's recording studio] and for that I thank him.

The Whole of the Moon 1985 single by The Waterboys

"The Whole of the Moon" is a song by the Waterboys which was released as a single from their album This Is the Sea in 1985. It is a classic of the band's repertoire and has been consistently played at live shows ever since its release. Written and produced by Mike Scott, the subject of the song has inspired some speculation.

Vinnie Kilduff Musical artist

Vinnie Kilduff is an Irish multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter, primarily known for his work with U2, The Waterboys, Clannad and Sinéad O'Connor. He plays tin whistle, uilleann pipes, guitar, mandolin, piano, harmonica, bodhrán and flute. He is described as one of Ireland's best known contemporary tin whistle players.

"World Party" is a song by the Scottish-Irish folk rock band The Waterboys, released in 1988 as a track on their fourth studio album Fisherman's Blues. It was written by Mike Scott, Trevor Hutchinson and Karl Wallinger, and produced by Scott. In the United States, the song reached No. 19 on Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart and remained on the chart for six weeks. It also peaked at No. 48 on Billboard's Album Rock Tracks chart.

<i>In a Special Place – The Piano Demos for This Is the Sea</i> 2011 compilation album by The Waterboys

In a Special Place – The Piano Demos for This Is the Sea is a compilation album by Scottish-Irish folk rock band The Waterboys. It was released in 2011 by Chrysalis and Capitol (US). The album reached No. 196 in the UK Top 200 Albums Chart.

Dont Bang the Drum

"Don't Bang the Drum" is a song from Scottish-Irish folk rock band The Waterboys, released as the opening track on their third studio album This Is the Sea. It was written by Mike Scott and Karl Wallinger, and produced by Scott. The song was released as a single in Germany and was also issued as a 12" promotional vinyl in the United States.


BBC Radio 4 Extra – Loose Ends with Clive Anderson – 15 October 2012. Source of information – Karl Wallinger himself

  1. "Wallinger, Karl". encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  2. "Party time at Robbie's world". Herald Sun . 20 September 2007.
  3. "World Party's Karl Wallinger: He's the One (Part 2)". Musoscribe . 3 July 2015.
  4. 1 2 Thomson, Graeme (15 August 2012). "Karl Wallinger: The song that saved my bacon". ISSN   0307-1235 . Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  5. "World Party's Karl Wallinger was sidelined and took to digging up 'Arkeology'". Thomas Conner. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  6. Sleeve notes: Now And In Time To Be, The Grapevine Label, GRACD 219
  7. Hedblade, Jay (18 August 2006). "Wallinger has love on the brain". Chicago Tribune .
  8. Dwyer, Michael (20 September 2007). "World Party". The Age. Retrieved 19 May 2020.