Farewell to a Punk Poet: RIP Shane MacGowan

A Musical Rebel's Journey from Punk Rock to Folk Fusion and the Legacy Left Behind

Shane MacGowan of The Pogues has passed away, as reported by his wife Victoria Mary Clarke. The singer was 65 years old.

In recent months, Clarke had been updating fans on social media about her husband’s condition. “I don’t know how to say it, so I’ll just say it. Shane, who will always be my light and the measure of my dreams and the love of my life and the most beautiful soul and the most beautiful angel and the sun and the moon and the beginning and the end of everything I hold dearest, has gone to be with Jesus and Mary and the beautiful mother Therese.

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The son of Irish immigrants, the singer was part of the London punk scene. For about a decade spanning the ’80s and ’90s, MacGowan and The Pogues demonstrated how to interpret traditional Irish folk in a punk-rock style, offering, among other things, an electrifying version of The Dubliners’ “Dirty Old Town” and, in collaboration with Kirsty MacColl, one of the best Christmas songs of all time, “Fairytale of New York.” Meanwhile, MacGowan gained a reputation as a punk poet and the king of debauchery. He paid the price for it.

“I’ve been drinking since I was a kid,” he would say. His unruly behavior caused him quite a bit of trouble, including being estranged from his own band. He made music with Shane MacGowan and the Popes, later reconciling with The Pogues in 2001. Their best albums remain those of the ’80s, notably “Rum, Sodomy and the Lash,” produced by Elvis Costello, and “If I Should Fall From Grace with God,” produced by Steve Lillywhite.

Constrained to a wheelchair due to a pelvic fracture dating back to 2015, increasingly suffering, he battled, among other things, with encephalitis. His story is told in the documentary “Crock of Gold” by Julien Temple.

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