Cathal Coughlan, frontman with acclaimed indie bands Fatima Mansions and Microdisney, has died, aged 61.
His family announced the news, saying he “slipped away peacefully in hospital after a long illness”.
The statement added: “It is with deep sadness that we have to inform you of the passing of Cathal Coughlan on 18th May 2022.
“Cathal Coughlan first came to prominence as the singer and songwriter, alongside Sean O’Hagan, of their band, Microdisney. Formed in 1980 in Cork, Ireland, the duo relocated to London, became a five-piece, and recorded five albums for Rough Trade Records, first, and then Virgin Records. The enduring appeal of their music was joyously evident when the band returned for two reunion concerts at Dublin’s National Concert Hall and the Barbican in London in 2018.
“After the end of Microdisney in 1988, Coughlan formed Fatima Mansions, an outfit that combined his love of abrasive near-industrial rock noise with a fondness of traditional folk music, and fiercely idiosyncratic lyrics full of striking imagery and mordant social and political comment.
“There followed a series of albums released under his own name which brought to the fore a more experimental approach to song writing, and several collaborative efforts, including work with the French composer François Ribac, and ‘North Sea Scrolls’, a concept album recorded with Luke Haines and Andrew Mueller.
“Cathal Coughlan’s most recent solo album, ‘Song of Co-Aklan’, was released in 2021 by Dimple Discs and contains contributions from many of the musicians he had worked with over the previous forty years, including Sean O’Hagan. Even more recent is the release of ‘a hAon’, the debut album from Telefis, the duo Coughlan had formed not long ago with the Irish producer, Jacknife Lee.
“Cathal leaves behind his wife, Julie. A memorial ceremony will be held amongst close friends and family in the near future.”
Among those paying tribute was musician Luke Haines, who had collaborated with Coughlan previously. “I have no words at the moment. Just sadness and anger really,” Haines tweeted.
You can see some of the many tributes to Coughlan here:
I’m so sorry to say that my dear friend Cathal Coughlan has passed away. I have no words at the moment. Just sadness and anger really.
— Luke Haines Rock N Roll (@LukeHaines_News) May 23, 2022
Cathal Coughlan, music genius, has left this realm. His brilliant songs remain. Play them loud and remember him
— Tim Burgess (@Tim_Burgess) May 23, 2022
One of the greatest honours of working on The @LlSTENlNG_PARTY is to be able to share time with some of our heroes. Cathal Coughlan was certainly one of those.
Rest easy man x x
You’re a genius, you’re a giant 💔 pic.twitter.com/Jg5NV6wjYh
— Tim’s Listening Party (@LlSTENlNG_PARTY) May 23, 2022
Terribly sad loss, brilliant, beautiful Cathal Coughlan, of Microdisney & Fatima Mansions. So many good memories, he gave me a t-shirt with FUCK FUCK FUCK printed on it, I wore to a @bjork gig. We contemplated doing a cover of Don’t Go Breaking My Heart 💔 https://t.co/At9lFQ846A
— Wendy Smith (@wendyfinnandmax) May 23, 2022
Sad to hear of the death of Cathal Coughlan. There are lines of songs that stay in your head and for some reason “Put that suitcase down before you answer me” has always stayed in mine. https://t.co/UgvnTe5L25
— Tracey Thorn (@tracey_thorn) May 23, 2022
This is a developing story – more to follow