Shane MacGowan, the London-Irish punk who transformed Irish traditional music with The Pogues and penned some of the 1980s’ most haunting ballads before sinking into alcohol and drug addiction, died yesterday. He was 65.
MacGowan brought Irish traditional music to a huge new audience in the late 1980s by splicing it with punk, and achieved mainstream success with his bittersweet, expletive-strewn 1987 Christmas anthem Fairytale of New York.
But he became just as well known for his slurred speech, missing teeth and on-stage meltdowns, with drug and alcohol abuse leading to the Pogues firing him at the height of the group’s success in 1991.
With his health near collapse in his 30s, few at the time expected him to survive into old age.
The singer died with his family at his side, his wife, sister and father, said in a statement on X.