His voice was utterly his own. It could be wild and gravelly in one song, then tender and poignant in the next. Shane MacGowan, the Irish singer best known as the lead singer of The Pogues, has died at age 65.
The Pogues were formed in 1982, with MacGowan as the dynamic, volatile frontman. They mixed boisterous drinking songs with political anthems and gentle ballads. A New York Times reviewer called them “a blend of The Clash and The Chieftains.”
MacGowan’s biggest hits were probably “If I Should Fall From Grace With God,” recorded with The Pogues, and “Fairytale of New York” recorded with The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl. The Pogues released seven studio albums, and MacGowan also contributed to many duets and collaborative projects. His struggles with alcoholism, drug use, and hard living were legendary. He left the band numerous times, and always tried to return to the fold when that was possible.
Following MacGowan’s death, Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland, said, “Shane will be remembered as one of music’s greatest lyricists. 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.”
The Pogues and MacGowan have been CKUA favourites for decades. Host Andy Donnelly says, “I think that many of us thought that he’d live forever, but we’ve lost a treasure. Shane MacGowan led the way for so many. He was an original. He gave us Irish music in a way that had never been done before and opened the ears and hearts of millions. In one minute it could be a rebellious rocker, and in the next he would break our hearts with the most tender and precious love song. There never has been anyone like him and there never will be again. A man you don’t meet every day. Deep peace to you, Shane.”
You’re invited to tune in to a special episode of The Celtic Show on Sunday, December 10, when the first hour, from 9am to 10am, will be a tribute to Shane MacGowan.
If you would like to share memories or musical requests, get in touch with Andy at email@example.com before December 6.
“Then fill to me the parting glass
Good night and joy be with you all”
-from the “The Parting Glass”