Shane Patrick Lysaght MacGowan (born 25 December 1957) is an English-born Irish musician and singer, best known as the original singer and songwriter of The Pogues.
MacGowan was born on Christmas Day in Pembury, Kent, England in 1957,to Irish parents. MacGowan spent his early childhood in Tipperary, Ireland before his family moved back to England when he was six and a half. He lived in many parts of the south-east, including Brighton and London.
MacGowan's mother, Therese, was a singer and traditional Irish dancer, and had worked as a model in Dublin. In 1971, after attending Holmewood House School at Langton Green, Tunbridge Wells, MacGowan earned a literature scholarship and was accepted into Westminster School, a renowned English public school close to the Houses of Parliament. He was found in possession of drugs and was expelled in his second year.
MacGowan got his first taste of fame in 1976 at a concert by English punk band The Clash, when his earlobe was damaged by Jane Crockford, later to be a member of The Mo-dettes. A photographer snapped a picture of him covered in blood and it made the papers, with the headline "Cannibalism At Clash Gig". Shortly after this, he formed his own punk rock band, The Nipple Erectors, later renamed "The Nips".
1982-1991: leading The Pogues
MacGowan drew upon his Irish heritage when founding The Pogues and changed his early "punk" voice for a more authentic sound with tutoring from his extended family. Many of his songs are influenced by Irish nationalism, Irish history, the experiences of the Irish in London and the United States, and London life in general. These influences are documented in the biography, Rake at the Gates of Hell: Shane MacGowan in Context. MacGowan has often cited the 19th-century Irish poet James Clarence Mangan and playwright Brendan Behan as influences.
Between 1985 and 1987, he co-wrote what is perhaps his best-known song, "Fairytale of New York", which he performed with Kirsty MacColl. In the coming years MacGowan and The Pogues released several albums successfully.
1992-2005: a new band, Shane MacGowan and The Popes
After The Pogues threw MacGowan out for unprofessional behaviour, he formed a new band, Shane MacGowan and The Popes, recording two studio albums, a live album, three tracks on The Popes "Outlaw Heaven" (2010) and a live DVD, and touring internationally.
In 1997, MacGowan appeared on Lou Reed's "Perfect Day", covered by numerous artists in aid of Children in Need. It was the UK's number one single for three weeks, in two separate spells. Selling over a million copies, the record contributed £2,125,000 to the charity's highest fundraising total in six years.
From December 2003 up to May 2005, Shane MacGowan & The Popes toured extensively in Britain/Ireland/Europe.
In 2010, MacGowan offered a piece of unusual art to the ISPCC (Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) to auction off to support their services to children. It ended up fetching €1,602 for the charity.