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Darcy Macleod

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Shane MacGowan was equally renowned as a brilliant songwriter and as a colorful, sometimes tragic figure. Though associated with Irish music as the frontman of the Pogues, MacGowan is English and was born in Kent; however his parents were Irish and he lived in County Tipperary for a few pre-teenage years. A 19-year-old MacGowan was in London when the punk explosion hit, and was present for a fateful Clash gig in 1976: Carried away by the music, a punkette known as Mad Jane (later Jane Crockford of the Mo-Dettes) bit a chunk out of MacGowan's earlobe. The resulting bloody photo of MacGowan was an iconic punk image, and some of the first major press for the Clash. MacGowan's own punk band the Nipple Erectors didn't quite make history though they did manage four singles, shortening their name to the Nips after the first. The next band would be the charm: Reconnecting with his Irish heritage and moving away from punk, MacGowan recruited musicians who played accordion, tin whistle, banjo and bass. Initially called Pogue Mahone (Gaelic for "kiss my ass"), the Pogues were loud and raucous enough for the punk clubs, even though they were mainly acoustic and played traditional Irish music. MacGowan's poetic...

Shane MacGowan was equally renowned as a brilliant songwriter and as a colorful, sometimes tragic figure. Though associated with Irish music as the frontman of the Pogues, MacGowan is English and was born in Kent; however his parents were Irish and he lived in County Tipperary for a few pre-teenage years. A 19-year-old MacGowan was in London when the punk explosion hit, and was present for a fateful Clash gig in 1976: Carried away by the music, a punkette known as Mad Jane (later Jane Crockford of the Mo-Dettes) bit a chunk out of MacGowan's earlobe. The resulting bloody photo of MacGowan was an iconic punk image, and some of the first major press for the Clash. MacGowan's own punk band the Nipple Erectors didn't quite make history though they did manage four singles, shortening their name to the Nips after the first. The next band would be the charm: Reconnecting with his Irish heritage and moving away from punk, MacGowan recruited musicians who played accordion, tin whistle, banjo and bass. Initially called Pogue Mahone (Gaelic for "kiss my ass"), the Pogues were loud and raucous enough for the punk clubs, even though they were mainly acoustic and played traditional Irish music. MacGowan's poetic songwriting was a major part of the appeal, drawing from Irish mythology, Brendan Behan, and his own street-life tales. His imperfect diction and often-slurred delivery proved the perfect match for the characters in the songs. Christmas of 1987 brought his best-loved song, "Fairytale of New York," where he and the late Kirsty MacColl portray a hardscrabble couple spending Christmas Eve in the drunk tank. It became an unlikely holiday standard in the UK. His penchant for drunkenness (and for a time, his dabbling with heroin) was part of MacGowan's mystique, though it began to cause problems behind the scenes. His presence on later Pogues albums was erratic and in 1988 he missed part of a US tour; the band fired him altogether in 1991. MacGowan initially rallied and formed a new band, the Popes, carrying on in the Pogues' tradition. However the band was ill-fated, with two members dying of drug-related causes in 1995-96. To many fans' surprise, MacGowan wound up back in the Pogues, who toured successfully between 2001-2014, far outlasting their original tenure. However the reunion produced no new material, and MacGowan had apparently stopped writing songs after the Popes. In 2010 he formed the Shane Gang who played the UK when the Pogues weren't touring, but that band made no recordings. By now MacGowan was beloved as a personality, publishing his autobiography (A Drunk With Shane MacGowan) in 2001 and starring with his partner Victoria Mary Clarke in a reality TV special, Victoria and Shane Grow Their Own, in 2009. During 2015 he made headlines by fixing his famously ravaged teeth; this too became the subject of a TV special. Less happily, he was injured in a fall that summer and was still on crutches at year's end.

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