Shane Patrick Lysaght MacGowan (25 December 1957 – 30 November 2023) Born on a Christmas Day in Kent to Irish parents, MacGowan is synonymous with Irish nationalism, hard drinking and Celtic punk, a genre that his band The Pogues, pretty much invented. Their influence can be traced in many bands lineages, both here and in the US, with acts like The Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly regularly selling out shows much larger than The Pogues achieved,
MacGowan began his musical career in 1976, when as Shane O’Hooligan, he joined The Nipple Erectors, later shortened to The Nips, with Shanne Bradley. Releasing just 4 singles, including the classic “Gabrielle”, the band broke up in 1981, with MacGowan going off to start Pogue Mahone (Gaelic for “kiss my ass”), later changed to The Pogues, whilst Bradley co-founded The Men They Couldn’t Hang around the same time.
MacGowan left The Pogues due to his heavy drinking in 1991, but the band soldiered on, first briefly with Joe Strummer [The Clash] on vocals before Spider Stacey took over until the band called it a day in 1996.
The band released their debut LP Red Roses For Me in 1984, but it wasn’t until 1986 and the release of the 3rd album If I Should Fall From Grace, With God, which reached No.3 in the album chart, the highest in their career that they scored their only Top 10 single, with Fairytale of New York, featuring Kirsty MacColl peaking at No.2.
After being fired from The Pogues, MacGowan formed Shane MacGowan and The Popes in 1992, recording 2 albums before eventually calling it a day. He eventually rejoined The Pogues in 2001 until 2014, when he told an interviewer from Vice magazine, who’d asked whether the band were still active, MacGowan said: “We’re not, no,” saying that, since their 2001 reunion happened, “I went back with [the] Pogues and we grew to hate each other all over again,” adding: “I don’t hate the band at all — they’re friends. I like them a lot. We were friends for years before we joined the band. We just got a bit sick of each other. We’re friends as long as we don’t tour together. I’ve done a hell of a lot of touring. I’ve had enough of it.
MacGowan was a larger than life character and attracted many other maverick characters from the music industry, whether for a musical collaboration like Nick Cave, or just a damn good sesh with the likes of Pete Doherty [Libertines/Babyshambles].
He was hospitalised in July 2023, suffering from encephalitis, spending nearly 4 months in Intensive Care, being visited by many showbiz luminaries such as Bobby Gillespie, Imelda May and Damian Dempsey. His wife Victoria Mary Clarke, documented the visits on her Social Media accounts. The final few public photographs before his release just 7 days ago, depict the singer as a frail skeletal figure, looking much older than his 65 years. It is reported that he died peacefully surround by his family, having just celebrated the couples wedding anniversary.