Shane MacGowan, Founder of The Pogues, Dies at 65

The Celtic punk band’s 1987 hit “Fairytale of New York” is still a Christmas staple in the U.K.

Shane MacGowan
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 05: Shane MacGowan of The Pogues performs on stage at British Summer Time Festival>> at Hyde Park on July 5, 2014 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)

Shane MacGowan, founding singer of the eclectic Celtic punk band The Pogues, has died, his wife announced Thursday. He was 65.

Victoria Mary Clarke posted on Instagram: “Shane will always be the light that I hold before me and the measure of my dreams and the love of my life. … You will live in my heart forever. Rave on in the garden all wet with rain that you loved so much.”

According to Clarke’s timeline, MacGowan had suffered health issues for the past few years and was recently released from the hospital.

MacGowan started the politically-tinged Pogues in London in 1982, with the backing of several traditional Anglo-Irish instruments such as the tin whistle, mandolin and accordion. One might mistake them for a brewpub band – until MacGowan’s growling lyrics take a turn for the antiestablishment.

The Pogues had several international hits in the 1980s and early 1990s, then continued on after MacGowan left over drinking problems. They reformed in 2001 and carried on touring until 2014, though never recorded any more music.

Their biggest hit will always remain “Fairytale of New York,” a Christmas-themed shanty with Kirsty MacColl on the female vocal part. The song reached No. 1 in Ireland and No. 2 in England, and is still a regular yuletide staple in the U.K.

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