Maria McCormack 1954 – 2016
Rock’n’roll muse Maria McCormack has died at the age of 61.
Her outgoing character and hedonistic lifestyle inspired rock musicians including Wilko Johnson (Dr Feelgood), Phil Lynott (Thin Lizzy), Lemmy (Motorhead) and Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols) as well as the painter Edward Bell (best known for his Bowie album covers).
Maria’s father, a career soldier from Newcastle upon Tyne, married an Irish girl from Derry and emigrated to Australia where Maria was born in 1954. The family soon returned to Britain and Maria grew up first in Newcastle Co. Down where, as a natural tomboy, she wandered the Mourne Mountains. When the Troubles started, the family returned to England, settling in Wembley. Maria’s uncle, John Hume, became a key player in the Northern Ireland peace process.
After school Maria worked in Town Planning but by 1973 the lure of music and musicians was irresistible. At the Speakeasy and the newly opened Dingwalls Dancehall – frequently in cahoots with her brother Michael – she befriended many key figures from the worlds of music and the underground press, including the late publisher, poet and philanthropist Felix Dennis. Felix was quick to spot the commercial potential of Kung Fu, and Maria joined him in late-night drives around London, selling his new Bruce Lee magazine to cinema queues.
At one point Maria was simultaneously working as a librarian in High Wycombe and as a dancer at the Windmill Theatre in Soho. She also played bass in all-female rock band Sleek. Fellow dancer and Sleek founder Voyna Crofts said of Maria “She was so lovely, and talented and gorgeous, she could do anything she wanted”.
In 1987 Maria met guitarist John Perry (The Only Ones) who remained her partner until her death on 9th March. After meeting John she returned to higher education and gained a degree in Social Sciences from Royal Holloway & Bedford College, University of London.
Spinal Tap’s dictum of “have a good time, all the time” certainly applied to Maria. The after-effects of this, coupled with undiagnosed coeliac disease, meant that in recent years Maria was unwell most of the time and it was only through John’s steadfast support that she lasted as long as she did. On the rare occasions she could be persuaded out she was good company – entertaining, generous and kind-hearted. She is survived by John and her three brothers.
An online version of this obituary has now been published by The Guardian here http://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/mar/28/maria-mccormack-obituary
The print version of The Guardian ran a similar version on 22.04.16 (see below)
Simon Wright 16.03.16