The Pogues’ Shane MacGowan Dead at 65

    Shane MacGowan, the lead singer and songwriter of Celtic punk pioneers the Pogues, has died. His wife, Victoria May Clarke, confirmed the musician’s death in a statement on Instagram. MacGowan was 65.

    MacGowan was born on Christmas Day, 1957, in Kent, England, but spent the first six years of his life in Tipperary in Ireland. The family then moved to London, where he won a number of poetry contests before being expelled from school for possessing drugs. After attending concerts by the Sex Pistols and the Clash, MacGowan formed his own band, the Nipple Erectors, later renamed the Nips, whose debut single, ‘King of the Bop’, was released in 1976. The Nips disbanded in 1980.

    MacGowan then took a job in a record store and occasionally filled in with his friend Peter ‘Spider’ Stacy’s band the Millwall Chainsaws. After the band split, MacGowan and Stacy formed the Pogues, originally dubbed Pogue Mahone (Gaelic for “kiss my arse”), in 1982. They released their debut album, Red Roses for Me, in 1984, and followed it up with 1985’s Elvis Costello-produced Rum Sodomy & the Lash and 1988’s If I Should Fall from Grace with God, the latter of which featured the classic Christmas single ‘Fairytale of New York’.

    The Pogues went on to release four more albums: 1989’s Peace and Love, 1990’s Hell’s Ditch, 1993’s Waiting for Herb, and 1996’s Pogue Mahone. By the end of the ’80s, though, MacGowan’s alcohol consumption caused problems for the band as he missed several live performances, including a series of 1988 dates supporting Bob Dylan. He was asked to leave the group but reunited with them in 2001 before parting ways again around 2015.

    In 1992, MacGowan teamed up with Nick Cave for a cover of ‘What a Wonderful World’. Outside of his work with the Pogues, Shane MacGowan and the Popes released two studio albums. In 2020, it was reported that McGowan had returned to the studio to record several new songs with Cronin, the Irish indie band led by brothers Johnny and Mick Cronin.

    “I don’t know how to say this so I am just going to say it,” Victoria May Clarke wrote in her post. “Shane who will always be the light that I hold before me and the measure of my dreams and the love ❤️ of my life and the most beautiful soul and beautiful angel and the sun and the moon and the start and end of everything that I hold dear has gone to be with Jesus and Mary and his beautiful mother Therese. I am blessed beyond words to have met him and to have loved him and to have been so endlessly and unconditionally loved by him and to have had so many years of life and love ❤️ and joy and fun and laughter and so many adventures. 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 ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ You meant the world to me.”

    Konstantinos Pappis
    Konstantinos Pappis
    Konstantinos Pappis is a writer, journalist, and music editor at Our Culture. His work has also appeared in Pitchfork, GIGsoup, and other publications. He currently lives in Athens, Greece.

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