Shane MacGowan

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Shane MacGowan


Sang “Fairytale Of New York" with Kirsty MacColl during her December 19, 1992 support slot with Morrissey.

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Irish musician, singer and songwriter, born 25 December 1957 in Kent, England, died 30 November 2023 in Dublin, Ireland. Brother of Siobhan MacGowan. He was married to Victoria Mary Clarke.

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Shane Patrick Lysaght MacGowan (25 December 1957 – 30 November 2023) was a British-born Irish singer-songwriter and musician known as the lead vocalist and primary lyricist of Celtic punk band the Pogues. He also produced solo material and collaborated with artists including Joe Strummer, Nick Cave, Sinéad O'Connor, and Cruachan. Known for his exceptional songwriting ability and his heavy alcohol and drug use, MacGowan was described by The New York Times as "a titanically destructive personality and a master songsmith whose lyrics painted vivid portraits of the underbelly of Irish immigrant life". Born in Kent, England, to Irish parents, MacGowan spent his early childhood in Tipperary, Ireland. He moved back to England with his family at age six and a half. MacGowan was noted for his precocious interest in literature; by age 11, he was reading authors including Fyodor Dostoevsky and James Joyce, and at 13 he was among the winners of a literary contest sponsored by the Daily Mirror. He attended Holmewood House preparatory school and won a scholarship to Westminster School, but was expelled from the latter for drug offences. Between the ages 17 and 18, he spent six months in psychiatric care at Bethlem Royal Hospital in London due to his drug and alcohol abuse. He became active on the London punk scene under the alias Shane O'Hooligan, attending gigs, working in the Rocks Off record shop, and writing a punk fanzine. In 1977, with then-girlfriend Shanne Bradley, he formed the punk band the Nipple Erectors (subsequently called the Nips). In 1982, MacGowan co-founded the Pogues—originally called Pogue Mahone, an anglicisation of the Irish phrase póg mo thóin, meaning "kiss my arse"—who fused punk influences with traditional Irish music. He rose to international fame as the principal songwriter and vocalist on the band's first five studio albums, including Rum Sodomy & the Lash (1985) and the critically acclaimed and commercially successful If I Should Fall from Grace with God (1988). With bandmate Jem Finer, he co-wrote the Christmas hit single "Fairytale of New York" (1987), which the Pogues recorded as a duet between MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl; the song remains a perennial Christmas favourite in the UK and Ireland and was certified quintuple platinum in the UK in 2022. Other well-known songs written by MacGowan during his time with the Pogues include "A Pair of Brown Eyes", "Dark Streets of London", "Sally MacLennane", "A Rainy Night in Soho", "The Body of an American", "The Broad Majestic Shannon", "The Sick Bed Of Cúchulainn", and "Summer in Siam". During a 1991 tour of Japan, MacGowan was dismissed from the Pogues due to the impact of his drug and alcohol dependency on the band's live shows. He subsequently formed a new band, Shane MacGowan and The Popes, with which he recorded his last two studio albums, The Snake (1994) and The Crock of Gold (1997). In 2001, MacGowan rejoined the Pogues for reunion shows; he remained with the group until it dissolved in 2014. In January 2018, the National Concert Hall in Dublin held a gala concert to celebrate his 60th birthday and gave him a lifetime achievement award for outstanding contributions to Irish life, music and culture. In May of that year, he received an Ivor Novello Inspiration Award; in November, he married his long-term partner, journalist Victoria Mary Clarke. Following years of deteriorating health, MacGowan died of pneumonia at his Dublin home in November 2023, aged 65. The president of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, paid tribute, calling him "one of music's greatest lyricists".