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Shane MacGowan, Pogues Frontman and Prolific Irish Musician, Dies at 65

Shane MacGowan, Pogues Frontman and Prolific Irish Musician, Dies at 65

Shane MacGowan, the talented singer-songwriter and frontman of The Pogues, has passed away at the age of 65. The BBC reports that his passing followed a period of poor health and recent hospitalization due to an encephalitis diagnosis.

His wife Victoria Mary Clarke paid tribute to MacGowan on social media. “I don’t know how to say this so I am just going to say it,” she wrote on Instagram. “Shane… has gone to be with Jesus and Mary and his beautiful mother Therese.”

MacGowan’s spokesperson confirmed that he passed away peacefully early this morning in the presence of his wife and sister. On November 22nd, Clarke announced his departure from the hospital. Just a few days later, she shared that they celebrated their wedding anniversary, expressing gratitude for his survival.

Irish President Michael D Higgins mourned the passing of MacGowan, noting he was one of the most exceptional lyricists in the music industry. “Like so many across the world, it was with the greatest sadness that I learned this morning of the death of Shane MacGowan,” Higgins said. “His words have connected Irish people all over the globe to their culture and history, encompassing so many human emotions in the most poetic of ways.” 

Shane MacGowan’s Original Name for The Pogues Was a Bit… Cheeky

Shane Patrick MacGowan was born in Kent on December 25, 1957, while his Irish parents were visiting relatives. He had a happy rural upbringing in Tipperary for six years before his family moved to England. For a significant part of his life, he expressed the emotional essence of an Irishman living abroad, until he eventually found solace and made Ireland his home.

Shane MacGowan’s mother was a celebrated Irish singer known for her traditional melodies, while his father aspired to be a writer. At just 12 years old, Shane’s exceptional talent earned him a scholarship to Westminster School.

In 1982, he established the Irish punk band Pogue Mahone, which translates to “Kiss My Arse” in Gaelic. The band was later renamed The Pogues. Throughout their career, they released a total of seven studio albums. He remained their frontman until they broke up in 2014.

In 1988, Kirsty MacColl teamed up with The Pogues to create the beloved Christmas song “Fairytale of New York,” written by MacGowan. The song achieved remarkable success, reaching number two on the UK chart. Today, “Fairytale of New York” remains one of the most cherished Christmas songs in the UK.

In 2018, he received a prestigious lifetime achievement award during his 60th birthday celebration at Dublin’s National Concert Hall. A documentary about his life, Crock Of Gold: A Few Rounds With Shane MacGowan, was released in 2020.