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Billy MacKenzie


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Dundee, United Kingdom (1976 – 1997)

William MacArthur “Billy” Mackenzie (born Dundee, Scotland: 27 March 1957 – 22 January 1997) was a Scottish singer, with a distinctive falsetto voice, powerful voice, vast range and near-operatic style, best known as a member of The Associates.

He formed the Ascorbic Boys with Alan Rankine in 1976 & they changed name to The Associates in 1979. Rankine left in 1982 leaving MacKenzie to continue recording using The Associates name until 1990, after which he released one album under his own name Outernational.

MacKenzie collaborated with more than a few artists during his career, including contributions to One Second in 1987, on which MacKenzie provided vocals and wrote lyrics for two tracks, the most successful of which was The Rhythm Divine, re-recorded with Shirley Bassey and released as a single.

On January 22, 1997 he took his own life taking an overdose of prescription drugs; a result of a lurking depression after the death of his mother. In retrospect one can see the lyrics he recorded for the Apollo 440 track: “pain in any language” only a few months before this incident as sort of an autobiographical epitaph.

Nude Records subsequently released the posthumous album Beyond The Sun.

William, It Was Really Nothing by The Smiths is said to have been written about Billy. Morrissey, lyricist and lead vocalist of the band, allegedly had a bit of a crush on him, and they were friends for a while. The Associates’ track Stephen, You’re Really Something is reputed to be a response song.


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