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Shane MacGowan Dies; Legendary Lead Singer of the Pogues Was 65

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Sad news from the world of music today, as Shane MacGowan — lead singer of the beloved Irish rock band the Pogues — has passed away at the age of 65.

Word of MacGowan’s passing came courtesy of his wife, Victoria Mary Clarke, who posted the news on Instagram early Thursday morning.

While no cause of death was given, MacGowan — who was almost as well-known for his heavy consumption of alcohol and cigarettes as he was for his music — had been struggling with myriad health issues in the last year of his life.

Just last week, Clarke optimistically reported that MacGowan had been released from the hospital, but it seems he rather quickly took a turn for the worse and had to be readmitted.

Shane MacGowan Dies; Legendary Lead Singer of the  Pogues Was 65
Shane MacGowan of The Pogues perform at the 2009 Voodoo Experience at City Park on November 1 2009 in New Orleans Louisiana <span class=image caption credit> Photo by Sean GardnerGetty Images<span>

“I don’t know how to say this so I am just going to say it,” Clarke wrote on Instagram on Thursday.

She went on to explain that Shane “has gone to be with Jesus and Mary and his beautiful mother Therese.”

As a founding member of the Pogues, MacGowan helped to create the band’s signature sound, a blend of punk rock and traditional Celtic melodies.

Shane MacGowan smokes a cigarette while performing on stage.
Shane MacGowan of British group The Pogues performs on stage at the British Summer Time festival in Hyde Park in central London on July 5 2014 <span class=image caption credit> Photo by LEON NEALAFP via Getty Images<span>

Throughout the late ’80s, MacGowan wrote and lent his distinctive raspy vocals to a number of cult hits, most notably “Fairytale of New York,” which has since become an unlikely holiday standard.

News of MacGowan’s passing made him a worldwide trending topic on X (formerly Twitter), where friends, collaborators, and a legion of devoted fans paid tribute.

But the most moving eulogy came from MacGowan’s widow, who posted a lengthy, loving eulogy on Instagram.

Irish singer Shane McGowan of The Pogues performs with his band in the King Tuts Wah Wah tent on July 12 2008 on the second day of the T in the Park music festival near Kinross in Scotland <span class=image caption credit> Photo credit should read ED JonesAFP via Getty Images<span>

“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,” Clarke wrote.

“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.

“Thank you thank you thank you thank you for your presence in this world you made it so very bright and you gave so much joy to so many people with your heart and soul and your music,” she continued.

Shane MacGowan arrives at the Shockwaves NME Awards 2010 at Brixton Academy on February 24 2010 in London England <span class=image caption credit> Photo by Chris JacksonGetty Images<span>

“You will live in my heart forever. Rave on in the garden all wet with rain that you loved so much You meant the world to me.”

Few musicians in history embodied the spirit of rock and roll as completely as Shane MacGowan.

But clearly, those who knew him best will remember the melancholy balladeer more for his poetic soul than for than for his love of excess.

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