Shane MacGowan, the lead singer and songwriter of Celtic punk folk band The Pogues, has died aged 65 following a long period of ill health. The musician, whose hits include ‘Fairytale of New York’ and ‘A Pair of Brown Eyes’, had been unwell for some time and had recently been diagnosed with encephalitis.
Announcing his passing on social media, his wife Victoria Mary Clarke wrote a statement saying: “Shane will always be the light that I hold before me and the measure of my dreams and the love of my life … 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.”
A statement from MacGowan’s spokesperson confirmed he “died peacefully at 3.30am this morning (30 November) with his wife and and sister by his side”. The songwriter was born in Pembury, Kent to Irish parents and the folk band The Pogues was founded in London in 1982, originally named ‘Pogue Mahone’.
One of The Pogues’ most famous songs ‘Fairytale of New York’ featuring Kirsty MacColl was released in 1988 and reached number 1 in the Irish charts and number 2 in the British charts over Christmas. The song has become a festive classic in the UK and Ireland over the years, and is considered one of the best Christmas songs, despite not achieving a Christmas Number One when it was released.
In 2018 he was honoured with a lifetime achievement award at a 60th birthday party in Dublin’s National Concert Hall. A documentary about his life – Crock Of Gold: A Few Rounds With Shane MacGowan – was released in 2020.