Music

'Rave on': Touching tributes after legendary Pogues singer Shane MacGowan dies at 65

Shane MacGowan, the lead singer and songwriter of the Pogues, has died aged 65

There’s more to Shane McGowan than meets the eye, says his biographer Richard Balls. Illustration: Joseph Joyce

Shane MacGowan, the lead singer and songwriter of The Pogues, has died aged 65.

MacGowan – best-known for his five albums with The Pogues and Christmas classic Fairytale of New York – passed away after a long struggle with viral encephalitis.

His wife Victoria Mary Clarke took to Instagram to announce his death, telling Shane to “rave on”.

“Shane will always be the light that I hold before me and the measure of my dreams and the love of my life,” she wrote.

“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 and to have had so many years of life and love and joy and fun and laughter.”

Other tributes have poured in for the legendary punk rocker, who died “peacefully” at 3.30am, a spokesperson confirmed, surrounded by his wife and his sister.

A statement released on The Pogues’ official Twitter account broadcast the death with the “deepest sorrow and the heaviest of hearts”, adding that prayers and the last rites were read.

https://twitter.com/siobhni/status/1730199525757772262

Celebrities and public figures took to social media to pay their condolences.

Irish President Michael D Higgins described his “great sadness” at hearing of Shane MacGowan’s death. 

“Shane will be remembered as one of music’s greatest lyricists,” he said.

“So many of his songs would be perfectly crafted poems, if that would not have deprived us of the opportunity to hear him sing them.”

Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald said MacGowan told “the Irish story” like no other.

“Shane was a poet, a dreamer and a champion of social justice. He was a dedicated Republican and a proud Irishman.

“Nobody told the Irish story like Shane – stories of emigration, heartache, dislocation, redemption, love and joy.

Musician Nick Cave called him “a true friend and the greatest songwriter of his generation.”

MP Kevin Brennan posted on X, formerly known as Twitter: “RIP Shane MacGowan – songwriting genius – first Sinead now Shane – we are the poorer.”

Piers Morgan urged the public to get Fairytale of New York to number one this Christmas.

“RIP Shane MacGowan, 65. Irish punk legend, genius Pogues singer/songwriter, and hell-raiser extraordinaire. His favourite joke was: ‘I was given six weeks to live, aboutt 25 years ago!’” he wrote.

Fans were devastated. “Rest in peace, Shane,” wrote X user Stan Collymore. “Thank you for the music and for many, making Christmas, Christmas. Suaimhneas Síoraí Air”

Derry Girls star Siobhan McSweeney said Shane MacGowan as “the voice of London for us Irish”.

“When I was scared about moving here he lured me over with songs about chancers, drinkers, lovers, poets and scoundrels. That’s the place for me, I thought!

“He also taught me to miss home, whatever that may be. Damn shame, Shane.”

 “The Pogues was one of the first proper concerts i ever went to. I was like 14, I couldn’t get served (obviously), & a grown man punched me in the face in the middle of this song for no reason. It was ofc one of the greatest experiences of my entire life,” said Róisín Lanigan.

MacGowan headed the Pogues between 1982 and 2014. In 1988 Kirsty MacColl collaborated with The Pogues for the Christmas song Fairytale of New York, written by MacGowan, which got to number two in the UK chart.

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