Shane MacGowan, the legendary hard-drinking frontman of the Irish punk-folk band the Pogues, died early Thursday, his family announced online. He was 65.
The “Fairytale of New York” songwriter died at 3 a.m. with his wife and family by his side, his band announced online.
“I don’t know how to say this so I am just going to say it,” his wife, Victoria Mary Clarke, also wrote on Instagram.
“‘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,” she said of the “love of my life and the most beautiful soul and beautiful angel.”
A cause of death was not immediately clear on Thursday, but MacGowan.
He received treatment in December 2022 for viral encephalitis — an enlargement of the brain — and spent more time in the Intensive Care Unit over the summer.
MacGowan, who has been in a wheelchair since 2015, was back in the hospital earlier this month for an unknown condition. He was only discharged last week.
Born in Kent, England on Christmas Day 1957, MacGowan demonstrated his storytelling abilities from a young age.
He won a Daily Mirror literary prize when he was just 13 and earned a scholarship to Westminster School in London for his essays.
“I didn’t last there very long,” MacGowan told the Guardian in 2013. “I got nicked for smoking a joint and was kicked out.”
With his music, MacGowan sought to bring the power of Irish folk music to the rock scene as he drew from literature, mythology and the Bible.
“We just wanted to shove music that had roots and is just generally stronger and has more real anger and emotion, down the throats of a completely pap-oriented pop audience,” he told NME in 1983 as the band was getting off the ground.
He frequently wrote about Irish culture and nationalism, as well as the experiences of the Irish diaspora — including his support of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
“I was ashamed I didn’t have the guts to join the IRA — and the Pogues was my way of overcoming that,” MacGowan admitted in Julien Temple’s 2020 documentary “Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan.”
MacGowan was celebrated by many of his peers as one of the greatest songwriters of his generation. But he was also known for his heavy boozing, often leaving him stumbling and slurring his words at shows.
He was ultimately fired from the band he helped form in 1991 after failing to turn up for live shows during a tour of Japan.
“By the end of it, I hated every second of it,” he told The Telegraph in 1997
“They’d moved so far away from what we were doing in the first place. I didn’t like what we were playing anymore.
He then rejoined The Pogues for a reunion in 2001, which lasted until 2014.
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