POGUES frontman Shane MacGowan – who is best known for his Christmas smash-hit classic ‘Fairytale of New York’ – has passed away at the age of 65 following a string of health issues, his wife Victoria Mary Clarke has announced.
She said: “Shane will always be the light that I hold before me and the measure of my dreams and the love of my life”.
The sad news comes just a week after he was discharged from hospital after spending months in intensive care.
Victoria posted a picture of a smiling Shane on X, and wrote in the caption: “Shane got out of the hospital! We are deeply and eternally grateful to all of the doctors and nurses and staff at St Vincent’s it’s the best ! And special thanks to Tom Creagh and Brian Corscadden for your help @ShaneMacGowan @poguesofficial (sic)”
The ‘Dirty Old Town’ hitmaker was diagnosed with viral encephalitis – a deadly infection that can cause brain damage and life-threatening complications – last year, and had been receiving care at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin, Ireland.
Shane – who had used a wheelchair since 2015 after fracturing his pelvis in a fall and later damaging his knees – first formed his own punk band, The Nipple Erectors, later the Nips, and made a demo produced by Paul Weller.
He and bandmade John Hasler left the group in the early 1980s to form Pogue Mahone with members of the Millwall Chainsaws and later changed their name to the Pogues, receiving rave reviews for their debut album, 1984’s ‘Red Roses for Me’.
Shane was fired from the band in 1991, a year after their fifth album ‘Hell’s Ditch’ was released, after failing to turn up for concerts during a tour of Japan.
He went on to form Shane MacGowan and the Popes before joining a full Pogues reunion in 2001, with the band staying together until 2014.
His last album was with The Popes, ‘The Crock of Gold’, in 1997 but sine 2015 he had been working on another album with the Irish band Cronin.
Copies of his art book, ‘The Eternal Buzz and the Crock of Gold’, were sold for £1,000 each to help raise funds for his care.
STARS PAY TRIBUTE
Singer Nick said: “A true friend and the greatest songwriter of his generation. A very sad day.”
Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor admitted the Pogues have “meant a lot” to him over the years.
Sharing the lyrics from the group’s song ‘A Rainy Night In Soho’, he wrote on Instagram: ”Very sad news about Shane MacGowan passing away. A man you don’t meet every day.
“Really loved his music and songwriting and it has meant a lot to me over the years.”
‘Derry Girls’ actress Siobhan McSweeney hailed the ‘Dirty Old Town’ singer as “the voice of London for us Irish”.
She added: “When I was scared about moving here he lured me over with songs about chancers, drinkers, lovers, poets and scoundrels. That’s the place for me, I thought! He also taught me how to miss home, whatever that may be. Damn shame, Shane.”
Meanwhile, Piers Morgan called for fans to rally round to get ‘Fairytale of New York’ – The Pogues’ 1987 festive single with the late Kirsty McCall – to number one for Christmas in tribute to Shane.
CHRISTMAS IN 1980s NEW YORK
He wrote on X: “RIP Shane MacGowan, 65. Irish punk legend, genius Pogues singer/songwriter, and hell-raiser extraordinaire. His favourite joke was: ‘I was given six weeks to live, about 25 years ago!’
“Let’s make Fairytale of New York the Christmas No1 as a tribute. (He was born on Xmas Day) (sic)”
Former Sex Pistols musician Glen Matlock hailed his late friend a “legend”.
He wrote on Instagram: “A big round of applause for the legend that was Shane McGowan who is now sadly no longer with us. A pleasure to have known you. RIP matey. X (sic)”
DJ Annie Mac shared a lengthy and heartfelt tribute to Shane as she reflected on how important his music has been to her over the years.
She wrote on Instagram: “One of the finest lyricists of a generation. A man who loved Ireland with all his heart and took the music and culture and mixed it with his London upbringing to bring us The Pogues. What a band. What a discography.
“I am thankful to my big brothers for playing The Pogues albums relentlessly round the house when I was growing up.
“His voice will be forever nostalgic for me, taking me straight home to Dublin.
“His words have provided great comfort to this London Irish gal who dreams of Ireland a lot…
“I will be listening to Rum, Sodomy and The Lash on repeat in London today…(sic)”