It breaks my heart, but Shane Macgowan of The Pogues has died. He was 65.
As a young punk in DC and New England, with a love for folk and celtic music, The Pogues exploded into my consciousness with Red Roses For Me. I saw them on tour two or three times, and chatted with Shane and a few others at the shows. Even got invited to an aftershow that I could not attend, sadly.
He was an intelligent, deeply shy man who buried his insecurities in alcohol. That did him no favors and it wasn't until he had some life-threatening health issues in the 90's and 2000's that he tried to clean up his act. It worked pretty well, and he did some performing again, but his body slowly gave out. In late 2022, he was hospitalized in critical condition with viral encephalitis for several months. It appears that that was the last straw, and while he was released from hospital in Spring of 2023 (I think), his health never rebounded. He was back in hospital this past month. That was the end of him, although he put a brave face on it.
His roaring, bold interpretations of traditional and original Irish music and Rock standards pulled in many famous collaborators, and even today are fresh and much imitated. The style of Punk Irish - The Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly and similar bands have drawn from the well that The Pogues created (and they in turn built on the late 70's UK punk tradition, as well as the Celtic Folk revival music of bands like Silly Wizard - yes I know they are Scottish).
He was one of a kind. He left us a pile of treasures worthy of the old traditions but imbued with newness that raised the bar of tradition and let countless other bands to follow in his footsteps. He will be missed.
This is how I will remember him.