Singer who went from Dennistoun to Hollywood Angela McCluskey has died at 64

Glasgwegian singer-songwriter Angela McCluskey, who led folk-rock group Wild Colonials in Los Angeles, has died aged 64
Scottish singer-songwriter Angela McCluskey has died at the age of 64. (Credit: Getty Images)Scottish singer-songwriter Angela McCluskey has died at the age of 64. (Credit: Getty Images)
Scottish singer-songwriter Angela McCluskey has died at the age of 64. (Credit: Getty Images)

Glaswegian singer-songwriter Angela McCluskey has died at the age of 64.

McCluskey was a member of the folk-rock group Wild Colonials, as well as working extensively with French electronic group Télépopmusik. Her music was used in TV shows such as Grey's Anatomy. The album cover for Glasgvegas' release Godspeed is from a photograph taken in the Lower East Side of New York City by Angela, a friend of lead singer James Allan.

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Music svengali Alan McGee wrote a column for The Guardian in 2010 entitled "Why hasn't Angela McCluskey hit the big time?".

He said: "Catching McCluskey live is a treat. Slouched over, singing tortured ballads, she is the anti-diva, the anti-Leona Lewis, the anti-manufactured pop star. And her voice works live just as it does on record, an incredible juxtaposition of the greats: Beth Gibbons, Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. McCluskey eases emotion and soul out of her most personal obsessional ballads with an effortless cool. The sheer normality of her appearance makes her talent all the more striking.

"I am often told we are living in the age of the vocalist. For all the kudos given to the cookie-cutter lineup of X-Factor singers who hold a note for exactly 17 minutes and bask in "amazing" praise, you have to wonder: where is the praise to be given to Angela McCluskey? Musicians love her; Lisa Marie Presley wrote with her, REM hired her as a support act, the Cardigans took her to Malmo to record her first solo record, and she's performed with Dr John and Cyndi Lauper. It remains a mystery to me why she is still only a cult draw."

Angela arrived in Los Angeles in 1993 while working on a movie production, “I was supposed to be here for a week, but I kept looking around thinking this isn’t as bad as everyone makes out, so I decided to stay for a while”. 

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Before America it was London in the 1980s as a publicist at EMI and creating videos to be played on MTV. Along the way she married composer Paul Cantelon – they met when he was playing piano in a restaurant where she was having dinner with Hugh Grant. Angela was Lily Allen's godmother and her circle of friends included Michael Stipe and Cyndi Lauper. She studied at the Glasgow School of Art with former Strawberry Switchblader Jill Bryson.

Angela became the singer of a band, Wild Colonials, that had a residency at Café Largo and a cult LA following before they were signed by David Geffen. The band covered one of Angela's favourite Glasgow songs, Tinseltown is in the Rain, and she immersed herself in a series of musical adventures. In recent years, Paul and Angela produced a podcast called You Could Start a Fight in an Empty House peppered with recollections of growing up in Glasgow and celebrity encounters. They lived in the Hollywood Hills.

Her death was confirmed via a post on her Instagram page: "We are devastated to tell you that our beloved Angela McCluskey has left us to be with her fellow angels. Never did anyone live life more fully, love more generously, sing more….well, just….more. Angela sang just as she breathed. Her life was a song, and she was music. "She will be missed more than any of us can say, but our love for her and her love for her beloved Paul, her siblings Gerard, Alan and Muriel, and all her family and friends will live forever. Please light a candle for our darling." The Glasgow-born artist moved to California in 1993, where she would form the Wild Colonials - the Red Hot Chili Peppers' bass player Flea was a fan - and produce albums including 'Fruit of Life' and 'This Can't Be Life'. Her biggest UK hit came in a collaboration with Télépopmusik. 'Breathe', released in 2003, charted in the UK Top 50. Tributes have come through from admirers of McCluskey's work, including Garbage lead singer Shirley Manson, who said: "Darling... I'm broken hearted. A Scottish treasure. A world class talent. A wildly irreverent, generous, loving soul who practised kindness at all times in all the dark places. I Love you. My sincere condolences to everyone who loves you. Especially to your handsome prince Paul." Actress Rain Phoenix, sister of Oscar-award winning actor Joaquin Phoenix, also paid tribute, saying: "Rest in power dear Angela... a generous no-nonsense powerhouse, with effortless style, wicked humor, and a voice most beautiful - there will never be another."

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