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Shane MacGowan death: Pogues star's Fairytale Of New York was centre of controversy

Some music fans found the song's lyrics offensive

FILE - Shane MacGowan poses for photographers upon arrival at the Shane MacGowan, The Eternal Buzz & The Crock of Gold Exhibition in London, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022. Shane MacGowan, lead singer of The Pogues and best known for 'Fairytale of New York,' has died at 65, his wife said on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023. (Photo by Scott Garfitt/Invision/AP, File)
Shane MacGowan has died at 65. (Invision/AP)

The Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan has died at the age of 65.

The musician was previously diagnosed with encephalitis, which the NHS says is "an uncommon but serious condition in which the brain becomes inflamed" and has suffered some ill health.

His wife Victoria Mary Clarke shared the news on Instagram, telling fans: "I don’t know how to say this so I am just going to say it.

"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."

"Rave on in the garden all wet with rain that you loved so much," she said.

MacGowan found fame with The Pogues in the early 80s, with songs such as Dark Streets Of London and A Pair Of Brown Eyes.

Fairytale Of New York controversy

The Pogues - Kirsty Mccall And Shane Macgowan - 1980S, The Pogues - Kirsty Mccall And Shane Macgowan - 1980S (Photo by Brian Rasic/Getty Images)
Kirtsy McCall performing with Shane MacGowan and The Pogues. (Brian Rasic/Getty Images)

The group's 1987 hit Fairytale Of New York, which featured the late Kirsty MacColl, sparked controversy in recent years.

The song has been a Christmas favourite but some have taken issue with its lyrics as it includes derogatory terms for gender and sexuality. Some people have even called for it to be banned.

In 2020, BBC Radio 1 announced that it would play an edited version of the track.

Jeff Ingold, head of media at LGBT charity Stonewall, said at the time: “While for some people it may only be a lyric in a song, for many LGBT people the ‘f’ word has been used in a threatening and abusive way against them and may well be associated with incidents of bullying or anti-LGBT attacks.

Singers Kirsty MacColl (1959 - 2000) and Shane MacGowan with with toy guns and an inflatable Santa in a festive scenario, circa 1987. In 1987, the pair collaborated on the Pogues' Christmas song 'Fairytale of New York'. (Photo by Tim Roney/Getty Images)
Kirsty MacColl and Shane MacGowan's Fairytale of New York is a perennial festive hit. (Tim Roney/Getty Images)

“It’s good Radio 1 has heard the concerns of their listeners and understands the impact language can have on different people.

“While we’re pleased about this decision, tackling offensive language is one part of much wider action needed to address the challenges lesbian, gay, bi and trans people face feeling safe to be themselves in all areas of their life.”

Lead vocalist Shane MacGowan of the Irish Celtic band The Pogues performs at a sold out Orpheum Theater in Boston, Tuesday, March 14, 2006. (AP Photo/Robert E. Klein)
The star had suffered ill health. (AP)

In 2018 MacGowan said in a statement to Virgin Media Television’s The Tonight Show that the homophobic slur used fitted the way the character in the song would speak.

But he said he was fine about it being censored.

"If people don’t understand that I was trying to accurately portray the character as authentically as possible then I am absolutely fine with them bleeping the word but I don’t want to get into an argument," he said.


Read more: The Pogues