The Pogues legend Shane MacGowan dies, aged 65

30 November 2023, 12:10 | Updated: 5 December 2023, 13:18

Shane MacGowan At His Parents' Home in 1997
Shane MacGowan At His Parents' Home in 1997. Picture: Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images
Radio X

By Radio X

The Fairytale of New York singer has passed away, aged 65, his wife Victoria Mary Clarke has confirmed.

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Shane MacGowan has died.

The Pogues frontman, best known for the iconic festive single Fairytale Of New York with the late Kirsty MacColl, has passed away at age 65, just ahead of his 66th Birthday on Christmas day.

His wife Victoria Mary Clarke broke the news today (30th November), sharing a post on Instagram, which read: "I don’t know how to say this so I am just going to say it. 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."

She added: "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."

Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl famously sang on Fairytale of New York
Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl famously sang on Fairytale of New York. Picture: Tim Roney/Getty Images

Shane Patrick Lysaght MacGowan was actually born in Pembury, Kent on Christmas Day 1957 to Irish parents and was raised in Tipperary, Ireland from the age of six. In 1970s London, he became a well-known face on the punk scene and soon found a role as frontman for the band The Nipple Erectors, later rebranded as The Nips.

Shane MacGowan aged 19 in London
Shane MacGowan aged 19 in London. Picture: Sydney O'Meara/Getty Images

After the original line-up of The Nips broke up in 1980, Macgowan formed Pogue Mahone, mixing the punk aesthetic with traditional Irish music. Their name was Gaelic for "kiss my arse", so was later made into the more radio-friendly Pogues and their debut single, Dark Streets Of London, was issue on Stiff Records in 1984.

The band's second album in 1985 was Rum Sodomy & The Lash and was produced by Elvis Costello, while their version of the traditional folk song The Irish Rover with The Dubliners made the UK Top 10 in 1987. But it was The Pogues collaboration with Kirsty MacColl at Christmas that year that gave them eternal fame.

The Pogues in 1984
The Pogues in 1984. Picture: Steve Rapport/Getty Images

The Pogues issued seven albums across their career - with 1988's If I Should Fall From Grace With God being their commercial peak - but MacGowan was fired in 1992 for his unprofessional behaviour and formed his own group, The Popes, shortly afterwards.

MacGown rejoined The Pogues in 2001, but relationships soured again and 2010 saw the formation of short-lived band, The Shane Gang. He also enjoyed a minor career as an actor, appearing in the films Straight To Hell and Eat The Rich.

The musician was hospitalised in December 2022 with encephalitis - a condition in which the brain becomes inflamed and often needs urgent treatment - and taken into intensive care again in July 2023, but had returned home shortly before his death.

Shane MacGowan would have celebrated his 66th birthday this Christmas Day.