Shane MacGowan, the singer-songwriter and frontman of The Pogues, died Thursday. He was 65. “It is with the deepest sorrow and heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of our most beautiful, darling and dearly beloved Shane MacGowan,” his wife Victoria Clarke, his sister Siobhan and father Maurice said in a statement. The singer died peacefully with his family by his side.
Victoria wrote on Instagram:
Before joining The Pogues alongside Cait O’Riordan, Peter “Spider” Stacy, James Fearnley, Andrew Ranken, and Jem Finer in 1982, he performed under the alias Shane O’Hooligan on London’s punk scene.
The band revolutionized traditional Irish folk — wielding banjo, accordion, and tin whistle with feral punk rock energy. MacGowan, perhaps best known for his work on the beloved Christmas ballad “Fairytale of New York” (ft. Kirsty MacColl), was rightly hailed by many as a lyrical genius. “I regard Shane as easily the best lyric writer of our generation,” Nick Cave once said.
Singer-songwriter Billy Bragg posted, “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.”
The musician had been hospitalized in Dublin for several months after being diagnosed with viral encephalitis in late 2022. He was discharged last week, ahead of his upcoming birthday on Christmas Day.