Shane MacGowan, the brilliant but chaotic former songwriter and leader of the Pogues who revitalized interest in Irish music in the 1980s by harnessing the propulsive power of punk rock, has died. He was 65 years old.
Mr MacGowan’s wife, Victoria Mary Clarke, announced his death on Instagram. She did not provide additional details. A joint statement from the family that was shared on one of the band’s social media accounts He said he died early Thursday morning. “Prayers and last rites were read, which gave comfort to his family,” the statement said.
MacGowan emerged from the London punk scene in the late 1970s and spent nine tumultuous years with the initial incarnation of the Pogues. Emerging from the pubs of north London, the band were playing stadiums in the late 1980s, before Mr MacGowan’s addictions and physical and mental deterioration forced the band to fire him. He later founded Shane MacGowan & the Popes, with whom he recorded and toured in the 1990s.
Along the way, MacGowan earned a dual reputation as a titanicly destructive personality and master singer-songwriter whose lyrics painted vivid portraits of the underbelly of Irish emigrant life. The best known are the opening lines of his biggest hit, an alcoholic’s lament turned unlikely Christmas classic called “Fairytale of New York.”
It was Christmas Eve, baby.
In the drunk tank
An old man told me, I won’t see another one.
“I was good at writing,” MacGowan told Richard Balls, who wrote his authorized biography “A Furious Devotion,” which was published in 2021. “I can write, I can spell, I can make it flow and when I mix it with music, it was perfect.” .
As well as his wife, Mr MacGowan is survived by his sister Siobhan and his father Maurice.
A full obituary will be published shortly.
Derrick Bryson Taylor contributed reports.