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Legendary Pogues Frontman Shane MacGowan Dies At 65

Tributes came flooding in from artists like Billy Bragg and Jack Antonoff.

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Shane MacGowan - Photo by Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images
Shane MacGowan - Photo by Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images

Shane MacGowan, the frontman and songwriter of the iconic Irish punk band the Pogues, died this morning (November 30), BBC News reports. The news outlet cited an Instagram post by his wife, Victoria Mary Clarke. A spokesperson confirmed the news to the BBC, saying the musician died peacefully with his wife and sister by his side. MacGowan was 65 years old.

Born in Kent, England, in 1957 to Irish parents, MacGowan first discovered his love of music while spending his summers in a farmhouse in southern Ireland, surrounded by traditional Irish music.

He formed his band, The Pogues, in London in 1982 with Peter “Spider” Stacy, Jem Finer, and James Fearnley, eventually becoming a global sensation for the way they blended traditional Irish folk music with punk sounds.

The Pogues released a number of successful albums and singles, including 1985’s LP Rum Sodomy & The Lash, and singles like the 1988 Christmas hit “Fairytale of New York,” which featured McGowan duetting with English singer Kirsty MacColl.

On Instagram, MacGowan’s wife and partner of several decades, Victoria Mary Clarke, wrote, “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.

“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.”

Tributes from the music industry came pouring in upon reporting of the news. Billy Bragg posted on Twitter, “Sorry to hear of the demise, after a long illness, of one of the greatest songwriters of my generation, Shane MacGowan. The Pogues reinvigorated folk music in the early 80s, and his songs put the focus onto lyric writing, opening doors for the likes of myself and others.”

Tim Burgess of the Charlatans said, “Farewell Shane MacGowan. A life lived to the full. A lyrical genius. An inspiration to so many of us who wanted to be in bands. I followed The Pogues to far-flung places, met Shane a few times, and watched some of the most exhilarating shows I’ve ever witnessed.”

Jack Antonoff added: “Shane MacGowan has made me feel something that nobody else ever could through his work. His way is something i feel inspired by every day in the studio and on tour. Love to those close to him, and for the rest of us who wouldn’t be here without his music, it’s a sad day.”

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Mrs Lisa Glendinning

    November 30, 2023 at 11:32 pm

    Wonderful analysis

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