Shane MacGowen had had his first taste of success with his first band, The Nipple Erectors, in the late 1970s. In the 1980s he shot to worldwide fame with the Pogues.
The Pogues released five albums between 1984 and 1990. Their music consisted of songs written by MacGowan and other members of the band as well as classic traditional Irish songs such as Waxies Dargle and Irish Rover.
Their biggest hit was Fairytale of New York which is now one of the most played songs in the world. It was written by MacGowan and Finer and is regularly named as the best Christmas song of all time on various TV, radio, magazine and internet lists.
For all the success that MacGowen was enjoying with the Pogues, his drinking and drug abuse was becoming more and more of a problem. He had become totally unreliable often failed to show up for his commitments with the band.
In 1991, he was eventually sacked from the Pogues. He began a solo career with backing band ‘The Popes’. Shane MacGowan and the Popes released their first album, The Snake’ in 1994. It featured guest appearances from many of MacGowan’s friends including members of the Pogues, the Chieftains, Thin Lizzy, Sinead O’Connor and Johnny Depp.
The second album, The Crock of Gold followed in 1997.
In 2001, MacGowan re-joined the Pogues. While they didn’t release any new music they had great success as their fans were desperate to see them play together again. They completed a sell-out tour and performed at festivals around England.
They got back together for another successful tour three years later and in 2005, MacGowan re-joined the band permanently.
While making every effort to stay away from drink and drugs, MacGowan was prone to the occasional relapse. In 2001, Sinead O’Connor was so concerned she reported him to the police for heroin possession in the hope it would shock him into making a change.
MacGowen eventually thanked O’Connor and said that the incident had helped him get off the drug.
In 2014, The Pogues played a huge gig in London’s Hyde Park as support for The Libertines who are headed by MacGowan’s friend Pete Doherty.
MacGowan suggested that the Pogues may call it a day after the gig. He said he wanted to go into the studio with his new band The Cronins to record his first new material for 17 years.