Lead singer of Irish band The Pogues, Shane MacGowan, dies at 65

Shane MacGowan, lead singer of Celtic punk band The Pogues, has died at the age of 65, his wife, Victoria Mary Clark, announced on Instagram on Thursday.

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Shane MacGowan, singer of the Pogues, on stage at the Olympia Ballroom in Dublin (Ireland) in 1986. (INDEPENDENT NEWS AND MEDIA / HULTON ARCHIVE)

Shane MacGowan, lead singer of The Pogues, has died at the age of 65. His wife Victoria Mary Clark announced it on the social network Instagram. Shane will be forever “a light that I hold before me” And “the measure of my dreams”she writes, repeating passages from the song A Rainy Night in Soho of the Pogues. “Shane (…) left to be with Jesus and Mary”, she adds. The singer and musician, who had been hospitalized several times since July, had health problems and a known addiction to drugs and alcohol.

Between punk music and traditional Irish ballads

Irish born in England in 1957, Shane MacGowan became famous by founding the group The Pogues in 1982. He then played Irish ballads in pubs performed at a hundred miles an hour by musicians cheerfully mixing Irish rhythms and punk energy. Combining Celtic legends and drunkenness, The Pogues became in the 1980s the political voice of the Irish and in particular young immigrants in London, anti-Thatcher and anti-censorship.

The Pogues’ greatest commercial success was Fairy Tale of New Yorka 1987 duet between Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl that became a Christmas classic tinged with Irish folklore. Another great success of the group is A Pair of Brown Eyes. “Shane will be remembered as one of music’s greatest lyricists”, paid tribute to Irish President Michael D. Higgins in a statement. His songs were “perfectly written poems”he added.

The story of Shane MacGowan and the Pogues was the subject of a splendid documentary, Crock the Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowansigned Julien Temple and produced by Johnny Depp.

Political tribute

The Irish Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, paid tribute on the social network “an exceptional musician and artist”. His deputy, Micheál Martin, said he “devastated” by the death of Shane MacGowan, whom he described as“icon”. “His passing is particularly poignant at this time of year as we listen Fairy Tale of New Yorka song that resonates in each of us”he wrote.

Tributes also came from Sinn Féin, the former political arm of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) paramilitary group, which fought for decades against British rule in Northern Ireland. In the midst of the “troubles” in Northern Ireland in 1988, the song Strees of Sorrow / Birmingham Six des Pogues told the drama of six Northern Irish people wrongly convicted in 1975 for a bomb attack in a pub in this English city which left 21 dead. They were exonerated in 1991 in what is considered one of the country’s biggest miscarriages of justice.

Shane MacGowan was “a poet, a dreamer, a champion of social justice”greeted Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald. “He was a republican, a proud Irishman. No one has told the story of Ireland like Shane.”. For his predecessor, Gerry Adams, a central figure of the “Troubles” period, and a close friend of MacGowan and his wife, “Ireland has lost a great patriot, a poet and a friend of the oppressed and the marginalized”.

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