World Party's Karl Wallinger Dead at 66

The Welsh musician was known for the Britpop project World Party, which had hits with songs like "Ship of Fools," "Put the Message in the Box" and "Is It Like Today?"

<p> Courtesy World Party</p> Karl Wallinger

Courtesy World Party

Karl Wallinger

Karl Wallinger, the frontman of the band World Party, has died. He was 66.

A rep for the Welsh musician, known for helming the beloved Britpop group World Party after appearing in the folk-rock band The Waterboys, confirmed his death to PEOPLE in a release on Monday.

According to the statement, Wallinger died on Sunday. No cause of death was revealed at this time.

The singer-songwriter’s solo project World Party was a cult-loved alternative-rock project, which sparked ‘80s and ‘90s hits such as “Ship of Fools,” “Put the Message in the Box,” and “Is It Like Today?”

<p>Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)</p> Karl Wallinger of World Party performing at Bonnaroo in 2006

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)

Karl Wallinger of World Party performing at Bonnaroo in 2006

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Wallinger was born on Oct. 19, 1957 in Prestatyn, Wales and grew up in Surrey, England.

After a stint working as the musical director for the West End production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in the late ‘70s, the singer/guitarist began to focus on a career in rock music more seriously, per AllMusic. He joined the British-Irish group The Waterboys in 1984 and appeared on two of their albums: their sophomore record A Pagan Place and seminal, third album This Is the Sea, which featured the hit single “Whole of the Moon.”

After the 1985 release of This Is the Sea, Wallinger went on to explore his talents as a multi-instrumentalist by launching the one-man, pop-rock effort World Party. With his 1987 debut solo LP, Private Revolution, he not only earned a cult following for his funky, psychedelic-influenced sound, the track “Ship of Fools” broke into the Top 40 stateside and became an international hit across the globe.

Four additional full-length albums followed (1990’s Goodbye Jumbo, 1993’s Bang!, 1997’s Egyptology and 2000’s Dumbing Up).

<p>Paul Natkin/Getty</p> Karl Wallinger of World Party performing in Chicago in May 1987

Paul Natkin/Getty

Karl Wallinger of World Party performing in Chicago in May 1987

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The rocker survived a brain aneurysm in 2001, which was misdiagnosed at the time, according to NPR, and put his career on hold for several years. Despite the health setback, Wallinger eventually released a compilation album, 2007’s Best in Show, and returned to touring, even joining Steely Dan as their support act at one point.

Throughout his career, Wallinger worked with Sinéad O'Connor. He contributed to the late Irish singer-songwriter's 1988 debut The Lion and the Cobra, and she also provided vocals on his early work.

A great deal of Wallinger’s music appeared in films over the years, including soundtracks such as Clueless and Armageddon, and he served as the musical director for the iconic Gen X film Reality Bites, per IMDb. The Robbie Williams cover of the World Party song “She’s the One" also became popularized after its appearances in movies like The Matchmaker and The Big Hit.

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In a 2022 interview with The Big Takeover, the World Party artist revealed that he was in the midst of working on new music.

Wallinger also reflected on his career, spanning over four decades. “It’s strange, but amazing,” he said of the resonance of his songwriter. “I’ve always thought it should be something to do with healing or finding things out about the world that have truth. It maybe sounds a little idealistic, but it’s what music is about.”

The musician added, “It’s kind of a pure thing, music. I’m not left or right wing; I don’t even think of in terms of that. I just want people to have what they need to get through living on the planet.”

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

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