Caitlín “Cait” O’Riordan is a Nigerian-born British musician of Irish and Scottish descent. She played bass guitar for the London-Irish punk/folk band The Pogues from 1983–86. She later played with Elvis Costello, her husband from 1986 to 2002, as well as several other projects.
Caitlín O’Riordan was born in Nigeria to Irish and Scottish parents who moved to London in 1967 when the Nigerian Civil War broke out. In 1979 she heard The Nips’ song Gabrielle on the radio, and subsequently met future Pogues’ front-man Shane MacGowan, who was working at Rocks Off Records, where she went to purchase the record.
In 1982, she was invited by MacGowan to join his newly forming band, Pogue Mahone. She appeared on the group’s first two albums, Red Roses for Me and Rum, Sodomy and the Lash, the EP, Poguetry in Motion, and several early singles, before leaving in 1986. Besides playing bass, she provided vocals for “I’m a Man You Don’t Meet Every Day” on Rum, Sodomy and the Lash and for “Haunted” on the soundtrack to Alex Cox’s film Sid and Nancy.
In 1983 she became the singer in Darryl Hunt’s jazz band Pride of the Cross. Hunt had originally planned to ask Wendy May of The Boothill Foot-Tappers to be the singer. When he told O’Riordan, she laughed at him and said she ought to do it. At the audition the band told her that she couldn’t sing. During her time with Pride of the Cross, she sang lead on their only single, “Tommy’s Blue Valentine”.
She acted in the 1987 Alex Cox film, Straight to Hell, as the singing dance hall girl Slim McMahon, and also in the 1988 Frank Deasy film The Courier.
With Costello she co-wrote the track “Lovable” from King of America, and wrote, co-wrote, and appeared on songs on the Costello albums King of America, Blood & Chocolate, Spike and Mighty Like a Rose. O’Riordan and Costello divorced in 2002. In a 2008 interview with the Irish Independent, she denied ever formally having married Costello: “We weren’t married…It was a kind of Muslim ‘I divorce you’ kind of thing.”
The Pogues’ most commercially successful song, “Fairytale of New York” from If I Should Fall from Grace with God, was written as a duet for O’Riordan and MacGowan, but the band eventually recorded it with Kirsty MacColl singing the female part. O’Riordan and Costello are mentioned in the lyrics to “Fiesta” from If I Should Fall from Grace with God.
In 2004, she joined Pogues’ guitarist Phil Chevron’s re-united band The Radiators; that year she toured with the Pogues for the first time in 18 years. She left the Radiators and was replaced in February 2006 by Jesse Booth, and went on to form a band of divorcées named PreNup with Hothouse Flowers guitarist Fiachna Ó Braonáin.