Shane MacGowan, well known for delivering the popular Christmas carol Fairytale of New York, died at the age of 65.
According to his wife, Victoria Mary Clarke, ‘Shane will always be the light that I hold before me, the measure of my dreams, and the joy of my life.’
MacGowan had been suffering from health problems for years before being diagnosed with encephalitis, an uncommon and potentially fatal brain disorder that causes the brain to enlarge and can cause loss of mobility and difficulties speaking.
In June 2023, MacGowan was readmitted to the hospital, and his wife Victoria Mary Clarke shared updates on his condition on social media, including the fact that he had been placed in critical care and was at risk of death, but he would survive.
On November 11, Victoria Mary posted an Instagram photo of herself hugging her husband as he lay in a hospital bed, expressing her “terrifying fear of loss.”
He was released from the hospital later in November, and he and his wife celebrated their five-year wedding anniversary at home.
‘I don’t know how to say this, so I’m just going to say it,’ his distraught wife said in a statement on November 30 beside a portrait of the legendary artist.
‘Shane, who will always be the light that I hold before me and the measure of my dreams and the love of my life and the most beautiful soul and beautiful angel and the sun and the moon and the beginning and end of everything that I hold dear, has gone to be with Jesus and Mary and his beautiful mother Therese,’ said the priest.
‘I am lucky beyond words to have met him, to have loved him, to have been so endlessly and unconditionally loved by him, and to have had so many years of life, love, joy, fun, laughter, and so many experiences,’ she continued.
‘There are no words to explain my grief and desire for just one more of his grins that lighted up my life. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your presence in this world; you brightened it and brought joy to so many people with your heart, soul, and music.
‘You will always be in my heart. Rave on in the garden, all soaked from the rain you adored. You meant everything to me.’
Throughout his illness, MacGowan was visited at home and in the hospital by prominent friends and idols ranging from Daniel O’Donnell to Bruce Springsteen, and Clarke expressed thanks to them for maintaining MacGowan’s’morale.’
He rose to prominence as the lead vocalist of Celtic punk band The Pogues, with whom he had 18 UK single chart singles.
His band’s most renowned release came in November 1987, when they collaborated with the late Kirsty MacColl on the Christmas tune Fairytale of New York.
It debuted at number two on the charts that year and went on to hit the top 40 19 times between 1991 and 2019.
The trio, who also had seven other members, had their most successful album, If I Should Fall From Grace with God, in 1988, which peaked at number three on the UK album chart.
His wife of five years, Irish journalist Victoria Mary Clarke, survives him.
Shane MacGowan was born in Kent on Christmas Day 1957, the son of Irish immigrants. He frequently migrated about the south of England.
He first emerged in the media in 1976 when his earlobe was broken at a Clash concert in London, which caused a local newspaper to carry the headline: ‘Cannibalism at Clash Gig’.
He founded his own punk band, The Nips, also known as The Nipple Erectors, in the late 1970s.
He founded The Pogues in 1982 and released their debut album, Red Roses for Me, in 1984.
The band spent the most of the 1980s and early 1990s charting in the United Kingdom, with Fairytale of New York being their biggest hit by far.
MacGowan suffered with alcohol and heroin addiction and was reported to police by late singer Sinéad O’Connor, who died in July 2023, in an attempt to deter him from using the substance again.
After being fired from The Pogues for unprofessional actions in 1992, MacGowan created Shane MacGowan and the Popes.
The band toured widely in the United Kingdom, and MacGowan was requested to participate on the BBC-helmed rendition of Lou Reed’s Perfect Day in 1997.
In the 2000s, he rejoined The Pogues and performed with them until they split in 2014 following a 32-year career that included 13 members at various points.
Following the murder of Kirsty MacColl in December 2000, MacGowan became involved in the Justice for Kirsty movement and re-released Fairytale of New York to raise funds.
MacColl was murdered when she was struck by a speedboat while diving off the coast of Mexico, but her death was never completely investigated.
After proposing in 2007, MacGowan married his bride Victoria Clarke in 2018. They lived in Dublin till the singer died.
McGowan and Victoria initially met in 1982, when McGowan was 24 and Victoria was 16. Clarke wrote the biography A Drink with Shane MacGowan.
They did not have children, and MacGowan is survived by his husband, as well as other family members, friends, and legions of fans.