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The Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan dies aged 65


The Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan dies aged 65

The Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan has died at the age of 65.

In a statement shared on social media, The Pogues wrote:

“It is with the deepest of sorrow and heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of Shane MacGowan. Shane died peacefully at 3am this morning with his wife Victoria and family by his side.”

MacGowan was best known for leading the Celtic punk band whose songs include Fairytale of New York and A Pair of Brown Eyes.

In recent months, he had been receiving treatment at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin after contracting viral encephalitis. He was discharged on 22 November and returned home to spend time with his friends and family.

The Pogues in the 1980s

In a post on Instagram, MacGowan’s wife, Victoria Mary Clarke wrote:

“There’s no way to describe the loss that I am feeling and the longing for just one more of his smiles that lit up my world.

“Thank you thank you thank you thank you for your presence in this world you made it so very bright and you gave so much joy to so many people with your heart and soul and your music.

“You will live in my heart forever. Rave on in the garden all wet with rain that you loved so much.”

Having been born in Kent to Irish parents, MacGowan spent much of his childhood living in Co Tipperary, surrounded by folk and traditional music.

His mother, Therese, was both a singer and a traditional Irish dancer.

In the 1970s, he became part of the punk scene in London and, as ‘Shane O’Hooligan’, formed the band The Nipple Erectors, also known as the Nips.

He was later joined by Jem Finer and Spider Stacey to form The Pogues. The band was founded in Kings Cross, London, as Pogue Mahone the anglicisation of the Irish Gaelic póg mo thóin, meaning “kiss my arse”.

Shane MacGowan talks to RTÉ, the Irish broadcaster, in 2007

With a mixture of classic folk songs and MacGowan’s new compositions, they became commercially successful and toured extensively.

A bet in 1987, that MacGowan could not write a Christmas song, led to the band’s biggest hit, Fairytale of New York, a duet with the late Kirsty MacColl.

It peaked at Number 2 during its initial release in December 1987, being held off Number 1 by the Pet Shop Boys’ Always On My Mind. It has since re-entered the Top 20 every festive season.

MacGowan left the band in 1991 owing to drinking problems. However, following a solo career and performing with The Popes, he eventually re-joined them in 2001. By the 2010s however, his health was beginning to deteriorate, and he sparsely performed.

He married his long-time partner Victoria Mary Clarke in 2018.

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