DUBLIN—A member of the rough and tumble Irish band The Pogues has died and to everyone’s surprise, it’s not lead singer Shane MacGowan.
Blending traditional Irish music with a punk aesthetic, The Pogues were darlings of the 80s. As the gnarly face of the band, MacGowan earned a reputation as both a brilliant writer and a complete drunk. His antics onstage are legendary, when he bothers to show up. A ticket to a Pogues show either means a once-in-a-lifetime musical experience or two hours of MacGowan slurring through songs while slumped on a barstool, beer in hand.
MacGowan’s alcohol and drug-fueled escapades are notorious. As a teenager, he was accepted into a prestigious public school and then kicked out a year later for drug possession. In 1991, the singer’s own band fired him mid-tour during a stop in Japan. In 2001, friend Sinead O’Connor had him arrested. O’Connor claimed it was in an effort to get MacGowan to abandon a heroin addiction.
Regularly pickled, often high, and famous for his once stubby and now completely disintegrated teeth, MacGowan soldiers on. He is both a modern medical miracle and a poster child for the pitfalls of drug and alcohol abuse.
In a related piece of news, Pogues guitarist Phil Chevron has died of cancer at age 56.