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Shane MacGowan

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Title: Shane MacGowan  
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Subject: The Pogues, Red Roses for Me, Andrew Catlin, If I Should Fall from Grace with God, Fairytale of New York
Collection: 1957 Births, Celtic Punk, English Male Singers, English People of Irish Descent, English Punk Rock Singers, English Singer-Songwriters, Folk Punk Musicians, Irish Male Singers, Irish Rock Singers, Irish Singer-Songwriters, Living People, Musicians from County Tipperary, Musicians from Kent, Musicians from Tunbridge Wells, Participants in Irish Reality Television Series, People Educated at Holmewood House School, People Educated at Westminster School, London, People from Royal Tunbridge Wells, Singers from London, The Pogues Members
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Shane MacGowan

Shane MacGowan
Shane MacGowan at an early 1990s Womad festival in Yokohama, Japan
Background information
Birth name Shane Patrick Lysaght MacGowan
Born (1957-12-25) 25 December 1957
Pembury, Kent, United Kingdom
Origin Co. Tipperary, Ireland
Genres Punk rock, Celtic punk, folk punk
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, musician
Instruments Vocals, Guitar, harmonica, banjo, bodhrán, piano
Years active 1977–present
Associated acts The Pogues, Shane MacGowan and The Popes, The Nipple Erectors

Shane Patrick Lysaght MacGowan (born 25 December 1957) is an Irish musician and singer, best known as the lead singer and songwriter of Celtic punk band the Pogues. He was also a member of the Nipple Erectors and Shane MacGowan and the Popes, as well as producing his own solo material and working on collaborations with artists such as Kirsty MacColl, Joe Strummer, Nick Cave, Steve Earle, and Sinéad O'Connor.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
    • 1982–1991: leading The Pogues 2.1
    • 1992–2005: a new band, Shane MacGowan and The Popes 2.2
    • 2001–2009: return to The Pogues 2.3
    • 2010–present: a new band, Shane MacGowan and The Shane Gang 2.4
  • Personal life 3
    • Family and relationships 3.1
    • Substance abuse 3.2
    • Other work 3.3
  • Selected discography 4
  • Filmography 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life

MacGowan was born on Christmas Day in Pembury, Kent, England, in 1957,[1] to Irish parents. MacGowan spent his early childhood in Tipperary, Ireland before his family moved back to England when he was six and a half. He lived in many parts of the south-east, including Brighton and London.

MacGowan's father, Maurice, worked for a department store. MacGowan's mother, Therese, was a singer and traditional Irish dancer, and had worked as a model in Dublin. In 1971, after attending Holmewood House School at Langton Green, Tunbridge Wells, MacGowan earned a literature scholarship and was accepted into Westminster School. He was found in possession of drugs and was expelled in his second year.[2]

MacGowan got his first taste of fame in 1976 at a concert by British punk band The Clash, when his earlobe was damaged by Jane Crockford, later to be a member of Mo-dettes. A photographer snapped a picture of him covered in blood and it made the papers, with the headline "Cannibalism at Clash Gig".[3][4][5] Shortly after this, he formed his own punk rock band, The Nipple Erectors, later renamed "The Nips".


1982–1991: leading The Pogues

MacGowan drew upon his Irish heritage when founding The Pogues and changed his early "punk" voice for a more authentic sound with tutoring from his extended family. Many of his songs are influenced by Irish nationalism, Irish history, the experiences of the Irish in London and the United States, and London life in general. These influences are documented in the biography, Rake at the Gates of Hell: Shane MacGowan in Context. MacGowan has often cited the 19th-century Irish poet James Clarence Mangan and playwright Brendan Behan as influences.

Between 1985 and 1987, he co-wrote what is perhaps his best-known song, "Fairytale of New York", which he performed with Kirsty MacColl. In the coming years MacGowan and The Pogues released several albums.

In 1997, MacGowan appeared on Lou Reed's "Perfect Day", covered by numerous artists in aid of Children in Need. It was the UK's number one single for three weeks, in two separate spells. Selling over a million copies, the record contributed £2,125,000 to the charity's highest fundraising total in six years.[6]

1992–2005: a new band, Shane MacGowan and The Popes

After The Pogues threw MacGowan out for unprofessional behaviour, he formed a new band, Shane MacGowan and The Popes, recording two studio albums, a live album, three tracks on The Popes Outlaw Heaven (2010) and a live DVD, and touring internationally.

From December 2003 up to May 2005, Shane MacGowan & The Popes toured extensively in UK/Ireland/Europe.[7]

In 2010, MacGowan offered a piece of unusual art to the ISPCC (Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) to auction off to support their services to children.[8] It ended up fetching €1,602 for the charity.[9]

2001–2009: return to The Pogues

The Pogues and MacGowan reformed for a sell-out tour in 2001 and each year from 2004 to 2009 for further tours, including headline slots at Guilfest in England and the Azkena Rock Festival in Basque Country.

In May 2005, MacGowan rejoined The Pogues permanently.[7]

In 2005, The Pogues re-released "Fairytale of New York" to raise funds for the Justice For Kirsty Campaign and Crisis at Christmas. The single was the best-selling festive-themed single of 2005, reaching number 2 in the UK Charts.

In 2006, he was voted 50th in the NME Rock Heroes List.[10][11] He has been seen many times with The Libertines and Babyshambles singer Pete Doherty. MacGowan has joined Babyshambles on stage. Other famous friends include Johnny Depp, who starred in the video for "That Woman's Got Me Drinking", and Joe Strummer, who referred to MacGowan as "one of the best writers of the century" in an interview featured on the videogram release "Live at the Town And Country Club" from 1988. Strummer occasionally joined MacGowan and The Pogues on stage (and briefly replaced MacGowan as lead singer after his sacking from the band).

MacGowan is the subject of several books and paintings. In 2000, Tim Bradford used the title Is Shane MacGowan Still Alive? for a humorous book about Ireland and Irish culture.[12] Shaman Shane — The Wounded Healer by Stephan Martin brands Shane as a latter-day London-Irish spirit-raiser and exorcist. This commentary is found in the book Myth of Return — The Paintings of Brian Whelan and Collected Commentaries. London Irish artist Brian Whelan paints Shane (for example Boy From The County Hell), his works are featured on Shane's official website, and is also the illustrator of The Popes Outlaw Heaven cover.[13]

2010–present: a new band, Shane MacGowan and The Shane Gang

In 2010, MacGowan played impromptu shows in Dublin with a new five-piece backing band named The Shane Gang, including In Tua Nua rhythm section Paul Byrne (drums) and Jack Dublin (bass), with manager Joey Cashman on whistle. In November 2010, this line up fled from Ireland to the Spanish island of Lanzarote to record a new album.[14][15]

Boy From The County Hell by Brian Whelan

When not touring with The Pogues, MacGowan plays with his new band, Shane MacGowan and The Shane Gang. The band currently features John Daly (guitar), Joey Cashman (whistle), John "Sarge" O'Hara (keys), Jack Dublin (bass) and Paul Byrne (drums).[16]

MacGowan also worked as a lyricist on How to Train Your Dragon 2 for the song For the Dancing and the Dreaming.

Personal life

Family and relationships

MacGowan is the older brother of Siobhan MacGowan, a journalist, writer and songwriter, who released her album Chariot in 1998, and published a children's novel, Etain's Dream.

He is also good friends with local radio presenter James Waters.

In early March 2007, MacGowan announced plans to marry his longtime girlfriend, Victoria Mary Clarke. They live in Dublin.[17]

Substance abuse

In 2001, Sinéad O'Connor reported MacGowan to the police in London for drug possession – in what she said was an attempt to discourage him from using heroin.[18] At first furious, MacGowan later expressed gratitude towards O'Connor and claimed that the incident helped him kick his heroin habit.[19]

Speaking on BBC Four's Folk Britannia television programme in early 2006, Robyn Hitchcock recalled: "I remember going to the Hope and Anchor [a punk venue in London]. The Pogues were all on stage and ready, it was a full house, but they hadn't started yet. Then this character shambled in through the door and shambled downstairs. I thought, 'Jesus, you're not letting that guy in are you?'. Then he walked on stage. That guy was Shane MacGowan."

MacGowan has suffered physically from years of binge drinking. He often performs while intoxicated and has been impaired in interviews. In 2004, on the BBC TV political magazine programme This Week he gave incoherent and slurred answers to questions from Janet Street-Porter about the public smoking ban in Ireland.[20]

Other work

In 2001, MacGowan coauthored the autobiographical book A Drink with Shane MacGowan' with Victoria Mary Clarke.

In 2008, MacGowan appeared in an episode of Fair City which was shown on 28 December 2008.[21] In 2009, he starred in the RTÉ reality show Victoria and Shane Grow Their Own, as he and Victoria Mary Clarke endeavoured to grow their own food in their own garden.

Selected discography

The Nips/Nipple Erectors

  • Bops, Babes, Booze & Bovver (2003 Archived Compilation)

The Pogues singles

Solo singles

Guest appearances




  1. ^ a b "Shane MacGowan". Retrieved 16 December 2012. 
  2. ^ Rogan, Johny (26 September 1998). "Rebel yell". The Irish Post. Retrieved 13 February 2007. 
  3. ^ "Photograph : These people are cannibals!". Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  4. ^ Dwyer, Michael (2 August 1987). "Mac the Mouth". The Sunday Tribune. 
  5. ^ "Photograph : Saturday Night : The Clash are Playing". Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  6. ^ "Perfect Day for children", BBC News, 12 October 1998
  7. ^ a b "Brian Kelly | Listen and Stream Free Music, Albums, New Releases, Photos, Videos". Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  8. ^ "Shane opens door for drawing to go under the hammer". 29 November 2012. Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  9. ^ "ISPCC Childline". Facebook. Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  10. ^ Bychwski, Adam (10 May 2006). "Your biggest rock 'n' roll hero revealed". NME. Retrieved 24 August 2015. 
  11. ^ "Top 50 Heroes poll in today's NME". 10 May 2006. Retrieved 24 August 2015. 
  12. ^ Is Shane Macgowan Still Alive?: Travels in Irishry, London: Flamingo, 2001 (ISBN 978-0-00-655168-3; LCC-DA959.1) Archived 15 August 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Myth of Returned. Roseberry Crest, 2007 pg. 16.  
  14. ^ Falkiner, Keith, "Shane's Sunny Delight"; The Irish Star, 21 November 2010
  15. ^ "Shane's Sunny Delight". 21 November 2010. Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  16. ^ "In the wake of the Medusa". The Pogues. Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Shane MacGowan –". 31 July 2001. Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  19. ^ "Shane MacGowan Interview – One on One". Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  20. ^  
  21. ^ "RTÉ Archives". Stills Library. Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  22. ^ Nick Neyland. "Shane MacGowan and Friends: 'I Put a Spell On You' (Haiti Charity | Prefix". Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  23. ^ [2] Archived 5 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine

External links

  • Official Shane MacGowan website
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