The Celtic punk community is mourning a pioneer.
Shane MacGowan, frontman of English-Irish rock band The Pogues, has died, his family confirmed. He was 65.
"It is with the deepest sorrow and heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of our most beautiful, darling and dearly beloved Shane MacGowan," his wife, Victoria Mary Clarke, sister Siobhan MacGowan and father Maurice MacGowan, said in a joint statement posted to the band's Instagram Nov. 30. "Shane died peacefully at 3am this morning (30 November, 2023) with his wife Victoria and family by his side."
Prior to his death, MacGowan had spent several months in a Dublin hospital after being diagnosed with viral encephalitis in late 2022, according to the Associated Press. He was discharged last week.
Clarke also shared her own emotional tribute with an old photo of her husband on her social media, calling the singer the "most beautiful soul."
"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," she wrote on her Instagram alongside photos of MacGowan over the years, 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."
The journalist, who tied the knot with MacGowan in 2018 after more than 35 years together, added, "You gave so much joy to so many people with your heart and soul and your music. You will live in my heart forever."
MacGowan was born in 1957 in England to Irish parents. He spent his early years in rural Ireland before his family moved back to London, but his Irish heritage remained a major source of inspiration for his work, the BBC reported.
The singer first joined the band Nipple Erectors, later known as The Nips, in the mid-‘70s before forming The Pogues with musicians Jem Finer and Spider Stacey in 1982.
The band, best known for their 1987 Christmas song "Fairytale of New York" with Kristy MacColl, pioneered the Celtic Rock genre by blending rock ‘n' roll with traditional Irish folk music.
However, over the years MacGowan struggled with drug and alcohol addiction and was eventually ousted from the band in 1991. While he went on to form the group Shane MacGowan and the Popes, he later reunited with The Pogues, which formally disbanded in 2014, in the early 2000s.
"I wanted to make pure music that could be from any time," he wrote in his 2001 memoir A Drink with Shane MacGowan, "to make time irrelevant, to make generations and decades irrelevant."