The Pogues

Universally revered for one of the greatest Christmas records ever – “Fairytale Of New York” (featuring Kirsty MacColl) - the Pogues burst out of the ashes of punk to take Irish folk music by the scruff of the neck and launch a new generation of wild and frenzied dancing. The group was founded in London, England in 1982 by hard-drinking, tooth-challenged singer singer-songwriter Shane MacGowan (formerly the leader of punk band The Nipple Erectors / The Nips), who wanted to add a punk spin to the Irish folk songs he'd learned while growing up in Tipperary, Ireland. The original line-up of the band also included Spider Stacy (vocals / tin whistle), Jem Finer (banjo / guitar / vocals), James Fearnley (accordion / mandolin), Andrew Ranken (drums), and Cait O’Riordan (bass). Originally called Pogue Mahone (Irish for ‘kiss my arse’), they released their first single, “Dark Streets Of London,” and their debut album, Red Roses for Me, in 1984. Although the album was not an enormous commercial success, The Pogues quickly built an avid following with their ramshackle, good-time gigs. 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. Their Poguetry in Motion EP (1986) was another success and included “Rainy Night in Soho,” another classic in the group’s catalog. 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 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. Without their leader, the band recruited former Clash leader Joe Strummer for a tour before Spider Stacy took over most lead vocals. The band’s first MacGowan-less album was Waiting for Herb (1993), which included the international hit “Tuesday Morning.” However, after the departure of several longtime members and the lukewarm response to their 1996 album Pogue Mahone, the band officially split up. However, the band reunited with MacGowan in 2001 and underwent a successful UK tour. Although they never released another studio album, The Pogues continued to do critically acclaimed short tours up through August 2014, when they split up for good. Philip Chevron died from esophageal cancer on October 8, 2013, at the age of 56. Longtime bassist Darryl Hunt died on August 8, 2022, at the age of 72. Shane MacGowan died from pneumonia on November 30, 2023, at the age of 65.

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Stations Featuring The Pogues

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