Shane MacGowan, The Pogues singer best known for Fairytale of New York, has died aged 65

The Irish trailblazer's death was announced by his family.
shane macgowan dead

Shane MacGowan has died aged 65.

Following a period of ill health, The Pogues singer's passing was announced by his family today. In a statement, Shane's wife Victoria Mary Clarke said: "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 start and end of everything that I hold dear has gone to be with Jesus and Mary and his beautiful mother Therese.

"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."

In a statement, MacGowan's family 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. Further details will be announced shortly but the family ask for privacy at this very sad time”.

Reacting to the news, MacGowan's Pogues bandmate and co-founder Peter 'Spider' Stacy uploaded a black and white image of MacGowan performing, with the simple caption; "O Captain! My Captain! Our fearful trip is done..."

The trailblazing Irish star had been hospitalised and spent most of the year in intensive care, after contracting viral encephalitis.

First coming to prominence as a member of the anarchic band The Pogues, MacGowan joined the band in the early 80s when they formed in London, and was a permanent part of the line-up 1991, although he did reunite with the group sporadically, and was still seen as a full-time member from 2001 up until 2014. 

Mixing Celtic, folk and punk, The Pogues two UK Top 10 hits - The Irish Rover and Fairytale of New York - and two UK Top 10 albums; 1988's If I Should Fall From Grace with God and 1989's Peace and Love. 

MORE: See where all of The Pogues' singles and albums have charted in the UK

Despite receiving critical acclaim and commercial success, the band and MacGowan's own troubles with alcohol and drug addiction were seen to hamper their longevity, and their success was sporadic and spotty as they battled their inner demons, never quite reaching the icon status they so thoroughly deserved. 

MacGowan is probably best known for his work on the band's single Fairytale of New York with Kirsty MacColl, which has become a festive classic and Official Chart staple every Christmas time.

First released in 1987, the song reached a peak of Number 2 during its initial release, being held off Number 1 by the Pet Shop Boys' Always On My Mind

Despite never quite reaching Number 1, Fairytale of New York has become a beloved festive staple in the UK and regularly re-enters the Top 10 every festive season. In total, Fairytale of New York has spent 84 weeks in the Top 10, a number surely set to rise as the music world mourns the loss of one of its most original and fiery voices. 

MORE: See the complete UK chart history of Fairytale of New York by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl

Work on the song initially began in 1985, but a hellish development followed over the next two years; with various re-writes to the lyrics and even the loss of its original female vocalist, who was replaced by MacColl. 

Frequently recited by critics and fans alike as one of the best modern Christmas songs ever written, according to Official Charts Company data, Fairytale of New York's total UK chart units total up to 3.3 million from 1994 onwards. It is one of the best-selling singles of all time in the UK. Its total streams run up to 478 million. 

With the sad of MacGowan's death, however, it's impossible not to question whether the inevitable outpouring of public sympathy will bolster Fairytale of New York's chances for the crown of Official Christmas Number 1 2023.

What could be better to celebrate MacGowan's life and legacy than the most important Number 1 of the year? Get caught up with everything #XmasNo1 here.

Article Image: Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images

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Strange that 'Fairytale' is arguably both The Pogues and Kirstys best known song, and they both passed in the run up to Christmas, and the same with George Michael passing on the day itself. I really hope Fairytale of New York can now reach it's much deserved peak of No.1.




Shane was BORN at Christmas!

Surely a #1 this year?




Very sad news!

Am shocked to hear his death as he was just released last week from hospital!

Hope we can then finally see "FAIRYTALE OF NEW YORK" at number 1 this Christmas!!




Very sad news, especially when he was released from hospital last week. 

Hopefully 'Fairytale Of New York' can become this year's Christmas Number One in tribute to Shane. May he rest in peace! 🙏