Singer Margaret Urlich, who shot to fame following her breakthrough performance alongside Daryl Braithewaite for the classic hit The Horses, has passed away at the age of 57.
Urlich’s family released a statement announcing that she had passed away surrounded by family following a long battle with cancer.
“It is with incredible sadness that we inform you that Margaret Urlich passed away peacefully on 22nd August 2022 at her home in the Southern Highlands of NSW, surrounded by her family after a courageous two-and-a-half-year battle with cancer,” the statement read.
“Margaret is a much-loved multi award-winning member of the Australian and New Zealand music industry who captured hearts around the world as a gifted singer/songwriter with a unique voice and sense of style.
“We thank you for respecting the privacy of her family and loved ones at this sad time.”
The singer’s management also issued a statement, describing Urlich as “a much-loved multi-award winning member of the Australian and New Zealand music industry who captured hearts around the world as a gifted singer/songwriter with a unique voice and sense of style”.
Urlich started her career in New Zealand as a vocalist for the new wave band called Peking Man which won the Shazam! Battle of The Bands in 1984. After producing a series of hit songs with the band, Urlich joined the all-girl pop group When The Cat’s Away.
In 1988 Urlich made the move to Australia where she recorded her first solo album Safety in Numbers. The album reached the number four spot on the New Zealand charts and number five in Australia, also securing triple platinum status. She went on to win Best Breakthrough Artist at the 1991 Aria Awards.
Urlich rose to widespread fame when she provided backing vocals for Daryl Braithwaite’s hit song The Horses which featured on his second solo album Rise. Not wanting to draw attention away from her solo career, having just released her debut solo album, Urlich chose not to feature in the song’s film clip and instead a model lip-synced her vocals.
Urlich stepped back into the studio in 1991 to start work on her second studio album, Chameleon Dreams. Following the album’s success, Urlich earned the award for Best Selling New Zealand Artist of the Year at the 1992 World Music Awards in Monte Carlo.
Her third studio album, The Deepest Blue, which was released in 1995 failed to reach the same level of success as her previous albums and only reached number 18 on the charts in New Zealand and slightly higher at 17 in the Australian charts.
Following the end of her contract with Sony Music, Urlich set up a recording studio and recorded her fourth and final studio album titled Second Nature. Following the album’s 1999 release it reached number 11 in the charts and achieved platinum status.
Public figures joined fans in celebrating Urlich’s impressive career and life following news of her death.
Entertainment reporter Angela Bishop said Urlich was “one of the most beautiful voices to come out of New Zealand”.
One of the most beautiful voices to come out of New Zealand has fallen silent. Margaret Urlich has passed away at the age of 57, two years after being diagnosed with cancer. She won the ARIA for Breakthrough Artist in 1991 and sang BVs on Daryl Braithwaite’s hit The Horses. Vale.
— Angela Bishop OAM (@AngelaBishop) August 22, 2022
Fellow entertainment reporter Richard Wilkins also paid tribute to Urlich who “blazed a trail”.
Vale #margareturlich Much love to George and the family … and immense respect for the beautiful and talented artist who blazed a trail . R.I.P. Margaret ????
— Richard Wilkins (@RichardWilkins) August 22, 2022
Australian rock icon Jimmy Barnes called Urlich “a beautiful singer” while offering his condolences to those close to her.
RIP Margaret Urlich Such a beautiful singer. My heart goes out to George and her family. You left us way too soon pic.twitter.com/cFOyvyU4L2
— Jimmy Barnes (@JimmyBarnes) August 23, 2022
Comedian and actor Shaun Micallef paid tribute to “a remarkable voice” and “a lovely person”.
Like many, I was saddened to hear of Margaret Urlich’s passing this morning. I was lucky enough to work with her when she guested on Full Frontal and the Micallef Program. A remarkable voice, a lovely person and a great sense of humour. VALE.
— Shaun Micallef (@shaunmicallef) August 23, 2022
Rest In Peace ARIA Award-winning New Zealand singer Margaret Urlich. pic.twitter.com/z7ImGgrH3e
— ARIA (@ARIA_Official) August 22, 2022
RIP Margaret Urlich, such sad news
How I remember her best:
Peking Man, 1980s, University of Auckland pic.twitter.com/6QYoHxFZLJ
— Helen Keane (@HelenKea) August 22, 2022
Rest easy now beautiful song bird ????????❤️
Margaret Urlich pic.twitter.com/ezjl1CIwt0
— MC-KIWI * Aotearoa ???????? ????????❤️ (@2witterbird) August 22, 2022
Margaret Urlich, trailblazer & wonderful human. I was in awe of her as a kid. Aroha to all hurting from this loss.
— HOLLIE SMITH (@holliejsmith) August 22, 2022
Urlich is survived by her husband George Gorga.