Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan remembered as a ‘lyrical genius’

Shane MacGowan (PA)
Shane MacGowan (PA)

Famous faces from the world of music have remembered The Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan as a “lyrical genius” after his death at the age of 65.

The Irish singer, best known for hit festive song Fairytale Of New York, died “peacefully” at 3am on Thursday with his wife and family by his side, a statement from his relatives said.

MacGowan was discharged last week from St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin ahead of his 66th birthday on Christmas Day.

He had revealed he was diagnosed with encephalitis last year in a video posted to social media on New Year’s Eve.

Among the stars to pay tribute to MacGowan was former bandmate Spider Stacy, who shared a black and white photo of the singer performing on stage, writing: “O Captain! My Captain! Our fearful trip is done..”

Singer Billy Bragg hailed the Irish star as “one of the greatest songwriters of my generation”.

He added: “The Pogues reinvigorated folk music in the early 80s and his songs put the focus onto lyric writing, opening doors for the likes of myself and others.”

The Charlatans’ Tim Burgess praised the Irish singer-songwriter as a “lyrical genius” and an “inspiration” to many up-and-coming artists.

“I followed The Pogues to far-flung places, met Shane a few times and watched some of the most exhilarating shows I’ve ever witnessed,” he added.

Australian musician and actor Nick Cave described MacGowan as a “true friend and the greatest songwriter of his generation”.

Music producer Jack Antonoff, who has worked with global artists including Taylor Swift and The 1975, said MacGowan made him “feel something” through his work that nobody else could.

He tweeted: “His way is something I feel inspired by everyday in the studio and on tour. Love to those close to him and for the rest of us who wouldn’t be here without his music it’s a sad day.”

Former Countdown star Carol Vorderman shared a photo of a young MacGowan with the late Sinead O’Connor, who died in July aged 56, describing them as “the incredible rebels of my generation”.

Irish President Michael D Higgins said “some form of destiny” led the singer to write Fairytale Of New York after being born on Christmas Day.

He added: “The timeless quality of which will surely mean that it will be listened to every Christmas for the next century or more.”

Mr Higgins added that it had been a “great honour” to present the singer with a lifetime achievement award at the National Concert Hall in Dublin in January 2018 to mark MacGowan’s 60th birthday.

Ireland’s deputy premier, Micheal Martin, said he was “devastated” at the news, hailing MacGowan as an “iconic musician talented in many genres”.

“His passing is particularly poignant at this time of year as we listen to Fairytale Of New York – a song that resonates with all of us,” he added.

From the 1980s, MacGowan led The Pogues, who became a household name after the release of their festive hit Fairytale Of New York in 1987.

A statement posted on behalf of his wife, Victoria Mary Clarke, sister Siobhan and father Maurice on the Irish punk band’s Instagram account said: “It is with the deepest sorrow and heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of Shane MacGowan.

“Shane died peacefully at 3am this morning (30 November, 2023) with his wife Victoria and family by his side.

“Prayers and the last rites were read which gave comfort to his family.

“He is survived by his wife Victoria, his sister Siobhan and his father Maurice, family and a large circle of friends.”

It added that further details will be announced shortly and asked for privacy for the family.

Shane MacGowan
A tribute to Shane MacGowan at the Mansion House in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

MacGowan’s wife praised him as the “love of my life and the most beautiful soul and beautiful angel”.

Alongside a photo of him from his younger years, she added in a post on Instagram: “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 and so many adventures.

“There’s no way to describe the loss that I am feeling and the longing for just one more of his smiles that lit up my world.

“Thank you thank you thank you thank you for your presence in this world you made it so very bright and you gave so much joy to so many people with your heart and soul and your music.

“You will live in my heart forever. Rave on in the garden all wet with rain that you loved so much. You meant the world to me.”

The couple married in a small ceremony in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2018 in front of guests including Hollywood star Johnny Depp.

The London Irish Centre in Camden hailed MacGowan as an “icon” as it announced it will be paying tribute to his “music and influence” on Friday evening.

MacGowan was born in 1957 in Pembury, Kent, to mother Therese, who was a Feis Ceoil singer, and father Maurice.

He had used a wheelchair since 2015 after being injured in a fall.

Encephalitis is an uncommon but serious condition in which the brain becomes inflamed, according to the NHS website.