Shane MacGowan

Born: December 25, 1957 in Kent, Ireland
Instruments: Vocals, Guitar

Shane was born on Christmas Day in Kent, when his parents were visiting relatives. They lived in Puckhaun, county Tipperary, Ireland. His mother was a great singer and traditional dancer and had worked as a model in Dublin. His father was very interested in literature and writing. They lived in a big farmhouse with until Shane was six, when they moved to London. In 1971 he got a schoolarship and was accepted into a top public school. Shane was caught in posession of drugs and was kicked out after a year. One of his friends at the time was Berni France, later in The Popes.

In 1976 he sawThe sex Pistols and became part of the punk movement. The same year he made the papers for the first time. He was up front at a Clash gig and a girl cut him in the side of the head with a broken bottle. Someone took a photo and the picture of him covered in blood made the papers. They wrote that he had got his ear bitten off and that turned Shane into a semi-legend at the time.

Shane, who had rechristened himself Shane O'Hooligan, worked in a record store. He created his own fanzine called "Bondage" and formed the group Nipple Erectors with his friend Shanne Bradley (later in The Men They Couldn't Hang.). Their first single was "King Of The Bop" (1976) and it was produced by Stan Brennan, Shane's employer in the record store. They changed their name to The Nips and recorded three more singles. The line-up was changing all the time and included guitarist James Fearnley (later in The Pogues) and drummer Jon Moss (later in Culture Club). They were support acts for The Clash and The Jam. Paul Weller of The Jam liked them a lot and produced the single "Happy Song". The Nips broke up at the end of 1980 and released a live album called "Only The End Of The Beginning".

At the same time as Shane was in The Nips he also played guitar in another punkband called The Millwall Chainsaws which featured, on vocals, Spider Stacy. Shane and his friend Jem Finer were also involved in a backing band for a school teacher. Shane played bass, Jem guitar and Ollie Watts from The Millwall Chainsaws was the drummer.

The Millwall Chainsaws became the prototype to what was going to be Pogue Mahone (and later became The Pogues). In spring 1981, inspired by The Dubliners, they renamed themselves The New Republicans. Shane was the leadsinger and they played one gig at Richard Strange's club Cabaret Futura. The audience started pelting them with chips, so the management pulled the plugs thinking the band was from the IRA.

Shane began writing new songs like "Streams Of Whiskey" and he and Jem began rehersing together in 1981. They tried busking, but they didn't do well. In Covent Garden a man told them: "Very few people have come here and failed what we like to call The Covent Garden Seal Of Quality. I'm sorry, you have failed."

Shane and Jem auditioned their neighbour, Andrew Ranken, on drums, but he was the singer in another group and did not have the time to participate in another project. Shane remembered that the former Nips guitarist had taken piano lessons, so he was roped in an the accordion and showed up on James Fearnley's doorstep, the accordion in a landry bag. Jem learned to play the banjo and John Hasler on drums completed the line-up. A few nights before their first gig Shane phoned Spider and asked him if wanted to come a long. The group didn't have a name and among the suggestions were The Men They Couldn't Hang and The Noisy Boysies. Spider then came up with Pogue Mahone, gaelic for "kiss my arse", and it stuck.

Pogue Mahone's first gig was at The Pindar Of Wakefield on October the 4th 1982. The day after Shane also managed to find a bass player. It was Cait O'Riordan, who he had met a few years ago when she bought a Nips record from the record shop he was working in. John Hasler was sacked from the band and temporary they used different drummers including Alec Palao from The Sting-rays. In March 1983 Shane and Jem's original choice Andrew Ranken became a permanent member.

Shane's days with The Pogues ended in November 1991 during a tour in Japan. His story and the band's story differ on whether he quit or was sacked (although one source blamed Yoko Ono). Following his departure from The Pogues, Shane recorded a duet version of Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World" together with Nick Cave for Christmas 1992. In 1993 he collaborated with the Breton singer Alan Stivell (of The Specials) and the French band Soldat Louis. Shane also formed a new band with Mo O'Hagan (guitar) and Berni France (bass) called The London Contemporary Five. He opened the next year performing at the Brit Awards singing "Gloria" together with Van Morrison.

Shane appeared on The Jesus & Mary Chain's album "Stoned & Dethroned". He also recorded his first solo album called "The Snake" and his backing band was now called The Popes. Their first single "The Church Of The Holy Spook" was only released in 10.000 ex. The picture on the cover, a crucified Shane, caused a lot of trouble. The second single was "That Woman's Got Me Drinking" also got a lot of attention because actor and teen idol Johnny Depp played guitar on it and also appeared in the video. The album was a mix of traditional Irish music and rock 'n' roll and was produced by The Pogues' old sound technician Dave Jordan together with Shane. Among the guests were Jem Finer, Spider Stacey, guitarist Brian Robertson (formerly of Thin Lizzy) and John Sheahan and Barney McKenna (of The Dubliners). In addition to Mo and Berni, The Popes are: Tom MacAnimal (banjo), Paul McGuiness (guitar), Danny Heatley (drums) and Colm O'Manolaí (whistle). After the record was finished O'Manolaí was replaced by Paul Conlon (whistle), who only lasted until 1995. John Myers (whistle, fiddle) then became a Pope.

In 1994 Christy Moore sang a duet of the traditional "Spancil Hill" with Shane on Irish TV. Shane then recorded two duets with Sinead O'Connor and Marie Brennan (of Clannad). The first one was a re-recording of The Pogues' song "Haunted" (which appeared only on the "Sid & Nancy" soundtrack and on a 7" & 12" single), and the new version appeared in the film "Two if by Sea". The second, "You're The One" was used in the film "Circle Of Friends" and was a collaboration between Shane and former Pink Floyd member Michael Kamen, who composed the soundtrack. Both were released as singles and a second version of "The Snake" with the new tracks included was released in the US and Europe.

Sadly, in 1995 producer Dave Jordan died of a heart attack in Paris.

In 1996 Shane sang Frank Sinatra's "My Way" in a Nike commercial. The Popes got a new member in Kerina (accordion, whistle). Shane also appeared at The Pogues' final gig. Berni France (bass) left The Popes and was replaced by Bob Dowling. Shane began recording and co-producing a new album with Brian Robertson. He released the single "Chritsmas Party E.P. '96" in November. The next year he recorded "An Irish Airman Forsees His Death" for a tribute album to the Irish poet W.B. Yeats called "Now And In Time to Be".

Another single, "Lonesome Highway", will be released in spring 1997 with an album in the summer. His long time girlfriend Victoria Clarke has written a biography about him and it will also be published some time in 1997.

For a much more complete history of Shane, and for discographies covering his work, please visit Shane MacGowan: Paddy Rolling Stone and Shane MacGowan: King of the Bop

Great wads of thanks go to Orjan Folcke for his invaluable help with these biographies.
Additional great wads of thanks go to Coops for corrections.
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