Shane MacGowan of the Pogues has died

Music news

Lead singer of the Pogues and raspy voice of Irish punk, Shane MacGowan has died at the age of 65.

Shane MacGowan, former Pogues frontman with a sandpaper voice who built bridges between Irish folk music and punk rock, died this Thursday, November 30 at the age of 65. His wife, Victoria Clarke, confirmed the news in a statement. The BBC adds that it is “died peacefully at 3:30 a.m. with his wife and sister by his side. »

Shane MacGowan was diagnosed last year with viral encephalitis, according to Sky News, and was admitted to a hospital in Dublin this November following an infection. Two weeks before her death, Victoria Clarke wrote on Instagram that she “was terribly scared”.

Contacted by WECB, Nick Cave, who collaborated with Shane MacGowan in the 90s, describes him as “a true friend and the best songwriter of his generation. It’s a very sad day. »

Over the past four decades, the singer, songwriter and guitarist has embodied the Irish spirit, transforming traditional pub anthems like “Waxie’s Dargle” and “I’m a Man You Don’t Meet Every Day,” not forgetting “Dirty Old Town ”, to incredible rock classics with the Pogues. His voice was deep, hoarse and whiskey-soaked, a perfect mix for such a repertoire. When he sang the opening words of “Fairytale of New York,” the group’s biggest hit and an unusual Christmas classic, his guttural signature made it sound like he was literally next to you, under arrest: “It was Christmas Eve, babe…in the drunk tank.”

His unpredictable behavior eventually led to his exclusion from the Pogues in 1992, before his return in 2001, then a further separation in 2015. He subsequently took the helm of The Popes and The Shane Gang and collaborated with other artists in solo. Although Victoria Clarke said he was sober in 2016, his years of debauchery eventually caught up with him. He notably fell while leaving the studio, fracturing his pelvis, in 2015, leaving him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

But he seemed destined for a hard life, ever since his birth on December 25, 1957 in Kent, Ireland. “I’ve been drinking since I was a kid.” he told WECB in 1989. “I had my first bottle of Guinness at six and my first bottle of whiskey at seven. It drove the world crazy and opened my mind to Heaven. I’ve never been sober since I was 14. I do not care. The drink clears my vision. »

WECB invites you to relive the Pogues’ visit to the Olympia in 2012, with Shane MacGowan in their ranks:

All the rambling boys of pleasure and all the ladies of easy leisure gathered on September 11, 2012 for the fiesta of The Pogues’ thirty years in an Olympia where nostalgia ultimately had no place. WECB was there.

How could we take seriously the announcement of a Pogues concert, in original formation – understand, with Shane MacGowan, Spidey and company -, when we know that the legendary toothless singer was supposed to have been fired, then reinstated, went on tour with them again and then got fired again? No matter, the Pogues aren’t every day… We remembered past concerts in the capital and elsewhere in the region, notably at the Lorient Interceltic Festival, or – in particular – this set from 1988, in a Zenith in Overheated Paris, where Joe Strummer had wandered in… Before the ex-The Clash took the place of lead singer on the following tour, because Shane had been fired from the group. With this luxury freelancer if ever there was one, it was a dream meeting between the two greatest punk groups in History and where the repertoires mixed, notably this burning version of “London Calling” accordion-bouzouki-Telecaster to die for on the ground. The walls of the Elysée-Montmartre still remember it. This same Elysée Montmartre or Shane, with his new formation, The Popes, will once again stir up the crowds with a gig that has always remained in memory. But for these 2012 shows, the sauce was different. Two armored Olympias were sold in a few days. That is to say they were expected. The original line up is complete. Embellished with a copper section. Darkness sets in.
The first chords of “Streams of Whiskey” tumble from the sound system turned up to full blast and Shane arrives, cigarette in his right hand, the left occupied by his inseparable bucket walking slowly, a little overweight, but in good voice. Black suit, black shoes, black glasses, black tie, it’s Elwood Blues! The compact crowd was just waiting for that. The guns of hell sound, the band is in place and the party can begin and the giant pogo begins. A considerable advantage of this type of dancing is that vision is no longer disturbed by those who like to watch concerts on their phone… The more the set progresses, the denser the sound becomes, Shane sings like the first day. The hits fly by at high speed. The big hits are revisited with passion, including the old saws like “Dirty Old Town”! At the hour mark, the poignant “Thousands Are Sailing” is carried away brilliantly. The crowd exults! Twenty minutes later, the group leaves. At the encore, it is with a thunderous “Sally MacLennane” still as effective as ever that the group comes to greet before moving on to “Rainy Night In Soho”. We greet the crowd again and this is the second encore. “Fairytale of New York” in a duet with singer Ella Finer, the daughter of Jem Finer, the group’s historic banjoist, sends the audience into hyperspace (and under the snow!) and Shane finishes the song waltzing, a little clumsy, with the singer before closing the set with the unstoppable “Fiesta”, all brass out, for a final pogo. In short, it was heavy that evening, the power of the set definitively erased the nostalgia that generally surrounds this type of meeting.

  1. Streams of Whiskey
  2. If I Should Fall From Grace With God
  3. Broad Majestic Shannon
  4. Greenland Whale Fisheries
  5. A Pair of Brown Eyes
  6. Tuesday Morning
  7. Kitty
  8. Sunnyside of the Street
  9. Thousands Are Sailing
  10. Repeal of the Licensing Laws
  11. Lullaby of London
  12. The Body of an American
  13. Young Ned of the Hill
  14. Boys From the County Hell
  15. Dirty Old Town
  16. Bottle of Smoke
  17. The Sick Bed of Cúchulainn
  18. Sally MacLennane
  19. A Rainy Night in Soho
  20. Fairytale of New York (with Ella Finer)
  21. Fiesta


Written by

Christopher Johnson

Christopher Johnson is a dedicated writer and key contributor to the WECB website, Emerson College's student-run radio station. Passionate about music, radio communication, and journalism, Christopher pursues his craft with a blend of meticulous research and creative flair. His writings on the site cover an array of subjects, from music reviews and artist interviews to event updates and industry news. As an active member of the Emerson College community, Christopher is not only a writer but also an advocate for student involvement, using his work to foster increased engagement and enthusiasm within the school's radio and broadcasting culture. Through his consistent and high-quality outputs, Christopher Johnson helps shape the voice and identity of WECB, truly embodying its motto of being an inclusive, diverse, and enthusiastic music community.