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Karl Edmond De Vere Wallinger (born 19 October 1957, Prestatyn, Wales) 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.
Wallinger is a multi-instrumentalist, enabling him to demo and record the bulk of World Party material as a one-man band. He plays the guitar left-handed.
Early life and early musical work
Wallinger was born and spent his early childhood in Prestatyn, Wales, but was educated at Charterhouse (a public school in Surrey). From a young age, he was immersed in the music of The Beatles, 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, '84, '85)
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. Initially hired to play piano and organ (and to sing occasional backing vocals), Wallinger's multi-instrumental and production skills impressed Mike 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, Wallinger 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).
Whilst 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). In 2007, Karl 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.
1997 saw two tracks by Wallinger included on a compilation album entitled 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".
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.
In an interview with Chicago Tribune freelancer Jay Hedblade, Wallinger revealed that he suffered a brain aneurysm in February 2001. 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 a full recovery, he lost his peripheral vision on the left side of both eyes. Although the aneurysm meant that he had to suspend all work for nearly five years, he eventually resumed touring in 2006. He is still writing, singing, playing and touring but rather modestly describes his renewed talent as "overcompensating, so it's either the best I've ever played or I'll completely balls it up".
BBC Radio 4Xtra – Loose Ends with Clive Anderson – 15 October 2012. Source of information – Karl Wallinger himself