Shane MacGowan, singer and founder of The Pogues, has died according to a report from BBC News. (As first announced via an Instagram post from his wife, Victoria Mary Clarke.) Last year, he announced he had been diagnosed with encephalitis, and was recently discharged from the intensive care unit after being admitted for an infection. He was 65.
“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,” Clarke said. “Thank you thank you thank you thank you for your presence in this world you made it so very bright and you gave so much joy to so many people with your heart and soul and your music.”
Born in Kent, England on Christmas Day in 1957, MacGowan was the son of two Irish immigrants. As a young man he developed an interest in punk, famously being photographed at a show by The Clash, his ear bloodied, and he later joined the band The Nipple Erectors, and later the Milwall Chainsaws, with Jem Finer. The two musicians invited accordionist James Fearnley to join them and in 1982 renamed themselves Pogue Mahone, which is an anglicization of a phrase that translates to “kiss my arse.” The group later added Cait O’Riordan on bass and Andrew Ranken on drums, and released their debut Red Roses for Me via Stiff Records in 1984.
In 1985 they enlisted Elvis Costello to produce their second album, Rum Sodomy & the Lash, which became a critical and commercial success, though they didn’t take advantage of their rising fame. O’Riordan married Costello and left the band, and bassist Darryl Hunt joined the group in her absence, though MacGowan’s behavior grew increasingly erratic due to his substance abuse.
The band eventually did record another album, 1988’s If I Should Fall From Grace, which featured the hit single, “Fairytale of New York,” featuring Kirsty MacColl. The song went quadruple platinum in the UK, and the band recorded four more albums after its massive success: 1989’s Peace and Love, 1990’s Hell’s Ditch, 1993’s Waiting for Herb, and 1996’s Pogue Mahone. Yet MacGowan’s substance abuse habit created more problems, as he would miss scheduled performances. He was kicked out of the band in 1991, and though the group did reunite in 2001, they eventually split again in 2014 due to internal conflicts.
MacGowan formed Shane MacGowan and the Popes in 1994 and released two albums with the group, as well as collaborating with the likes of Nick Cave and Sinéad O’Connor.