Shane MacGowan, Pogues frontman and singer behind Christmas classic 'Fairytale of New York,' dies at 65

Shane MacGowan, Pogues frontman and singer behind Christmas classic 'Fairytale of New York,' dies at 65

The influential Irish musician penned many of the band's greatest hits, including their debut single, "Dark Streets of London."

Shane MacGowan, the Pogues frontman and singer behind the classic Christmas hit "Fairytale of New York," has died. He was 65.

The influential Irish musician's death was announced on the band’s social media account, which published a statement on behalf of MacGowan’s family on Thursday.

“It is with the deepest sorrow and heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of Shane MacGowan,” it read. “Shane died peacefully 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.”

<p>Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images</p> Shane MacGowan of the Pogues

Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images

Shane MacGowan of the Pogues

The statement added that further details will be announced “shortly” but that “the family ask for privacy at this very sad time.”

MacGowan’s wife also paid tribute to the singer on her personal Instagram account, describing him as “the love of my life” and “the most beautiful soul.”

Born on Christmas Day, 1957, to Irish parents in Pembury, U.K., MacGowan grew up living in both England and Ireland throughout his childhood years. An early adopter of the punk-rock movement, he played in several bands before founding the Pogues with Peter "Spider" Stacy, Jem Finer, and James Fearnley in 1982.

Drawing lyrical inspiration from Irish history, MacGowan went on to pen many of the group’s greatest hits across five albums over the next nine years, including their debut single, “Dark Streets of London.” He also co-wrote his 1988 duet with Kirsty MacColl, “Fairytale of New York,” which remains one of most beloved holiday songs. However, due to his struggle with addiction and unprofessional behavior, MacGowan was kicked out of the Pogues mid-tour at the height of the band’s popularity in 1991.

Following his ousting, MacGowan formed Shane MacGowan and the Popes, which he fronted from 1992 until 2005. He would not reunite with the Pogues until a decade later, when the band embarked on a sold-out tour in 2001. Though its members did not release any new music together, the group remained active until 2014.

MacGowan, who led another band called the Shane Gang from 2010 until 2011, was also featured on songs from the likes of Nick Cave, Sinéad O’Connor, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Dropkick Murphys, and more. He released an autobiography with his wife, A Drink with Shane MacGowan, in 2001.

He is survived by wife Victoria, sister Siobhan, and father Maurice.

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