The Pogues singer and ‘Fairytale of New York’ star Shane MacGowan dies aged 65

The Pogues singer Shane Macgowan has died aged 65.

The Pogues singer Shane MacGowan, famed for 1988 Christmas hit “Fairytale of New York”, has died aged 65.

Shane MacGowan, from Tunbridge Wells in Kent, had recently been admitted to hospital after being diagnosed with encephalitis last year.

According to the NHS, encephalitis is a “life-threatening” condition that causes the brain to swell.

He had been released from hospital on 22 November, and celebrated his wedding anniversary with his wife Victoria Mary Clarke on 26 November, remarking how grateful they were to be “still alive”.

Clarke confirmed his death in an Instagram post earlier today (30 November), writing that her husband, “the most beautiful soul”, had “gone to be with Jesus and Mary and his beautiful mother Therese”.

“Shane who will always be the light that I hold before me and the measure of my dreams and the love of my life,” she wrote.

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“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.”

According to the BBC, MacGowan’s spokesperson also confirmed the news, sharing in a statement that he “died peacefully at 3.30am this morning (30 November) with his wife and sister by his side”.

MacGowan was The Pogues frontman from 1982 until 2014, following the band’s break up. 

While the band was known for songs including “A Pair of Brown Eyes” and “Sally MacLennane”, it was their collaboration with late singer-songwriter Kirsty MacColl, “Fairytale of New York”, that is their biggest lasting legacy.

The song remains one of the most-listened to “anti-Christmas” songs of all time.

In recent years, the festive hit has become a point of contention for the LGBTQ+ community, with an annual debate appearing like clockwork over the use of the slur “f****t” in the lyrics.

While Kirsty MacColl cut the word during her performances way back in 1992, the song in its full capacity is still played today.

MacGowan, who wrote the song, had previously explained that the lyric had never meant “offend”, but he did not think it should be censored when played on the radio.

However, in 2020, The Pogues’ official X (formerly Twitter) account retweeted a post which seemed to suggest that he had changed his mind, and that the word should be removed from the song.

“The word itself being in ‘Fairytale of New York’ doesn’t bother or offend me,” the reshared post read, “but straight people being so angry and outraged at its removal and fighting and arguing for the right to sing it bothers me deeply.”

In 2018, MacGowan was given a lifetime achievement award by Irish President Michael D. Higgins, while in 2020, a documentary film entitled Crock Of Gold: A Few Rounds With Shane MacGowan was released, celebrating his life and legacy.

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