Shane MacGowan

Born to Irish parents in Kent, England on December 25, 1957, Shane MacGowan was a singer-songwriter best known as the front man for The Pogues. Born in England while his parents were visiting from Ireland, they returned to the city of Tipperary, where he spent the first six years of his life. Moving permanently to England when he was six and a half, Shane MacGowan became interested in literature and was reading the works of authors like James Joyce and John Steinbeck by the time he was 11. Although he eventually attended Westminster School on a literature scholarship, he was already dabbling in drugs in his teens and was expelled from the school in his second year. He eventually became interested in the London music scene, worked at a record store, and started a punk fanzine. Attending early punk shows earned him an appearance in filmmaker Don Letts’ The Punk Rock Movie and led to him forming his first band, The Nipple Erectors (later known as The Nips), in 1976. During the band’s time together, the released one live album in 1980 and four singles including “King of the Bop” and “Gabrielle.” The Nips split up at the end of 1980 and Shane MacGowan started planning his next move. Still based in London, he decided to add a punk spin to the Irish folk songs he'd learned while growing up in Tipperary and formed the band Pogue Mahone (Irish for ‘kiss my arse’) in 1982. The group’s name was later changed to The Pogues, and they released their debut album, Red Roses for Me, in 1984. Amid stories of alcohol-fueled mayhem, however, MacGowan emerged as an inspired songwriter, writing richly evocative songs like “A Pair Of Brown Eyes” and “Sally MacLennane,” both of which were featured on their sophomore album, the Elvis Costello-produced Rum, Sodomy & the Lash (1985). This album thrust the band into the spotlight, and they became an international sensation. In late 1987, The Pogues released the single “Fairytale of New York,” a collaboration with singer-songwriter Kirsty MacColl, which went on to become the group’s best-known song as well as being considered a Christmas classic. The single - which reached number 1 in Ireland and hit the Top 10 in the UK, Norway, and New Zealand - was included on their critically acclaimed 1988 album If I Should Fall from Grace with God. The album Peace and Love (1989) was also a success, but Shane MacGowan’s heavy drinking began to affect his songwriting and performing, and he became increasingly unreliable. In 1990, The Pogues released the album Hell’s Ditch and after a chaotic show on their 1991 tour, Shane MacGowan was kicked out of the band. While The Pogues continued to tour and record, he formed a new band, Shane MacGowan & The Popes, and released their debut album, The Snake, in 1994. The album received critical acclaim and was followed by the group’s second album, The Crock of Gold, in 1997. After a two CD compilation, The Rare Oul’ Stuff (2001), and a 2002 live release, Shane MacGowan and his Pogues bandmates reunited, and he focused on live performances with them. The rest of The Popes continued on for several albums without Shane MacGowan at the helm. From 2001 until 2014, The Pogues did successful tours in the UK but only played live a few times outside of the country. The band eventually called it a day for good in 2014. After several years of deteriorating health, Shane MacGowan died from pneumonia on November 30, 2023, at the age of 65.

Related Artists

Stations Featuring Shane MacGowan

Please enable Javascript to view this page competely.