Shane Patrick Lysaght MacGowan (born December 25, 1957) is an Irish musician. He was singer and one-time leader of The Pogues, an Anglo/Irish punk/folk band popular in the 1980s.
Despite his relatively recent promotion to Irish National Treasure, Shane was actually born in Kent, England, has spent most of his life in London, and speaks with a strong North London accent.
He had a keen interest in music as a child, and was inspired by The Sex Pistols to form his own band, called The Nipple Erectors, for whom he wrote the sublime Gabrielle.
In the wake of punk, Shane drew on his Irish heritage to create The Pogues. He wrote many songs of astonishing, dazzling beauty though his lyrical genius is sometimes obscured by the quick, rough performance and folk-punk sound of the band, as well as his slurred voice.
MacGowan is generally considered to have a severe alcohol problem, and has suffered physically from his years of excess — he was notorious for performing while blind drunk, and for years it was impossible to find an interview with him in which he was not impaired. He has very few teeth (his dental situation has been part of his "reputation" for years) and is now bloated and pale, and speaks slowly and indistinctly, though his mind is still sharp and his notoriously quick wit remains intact.
The vast majority of those who have met him describe MacGowan as an absolute gentleman: friendly, tolerant and good-natured, although in interviews it is plain that he does not suffer fools patiently and is quick to make his views known.
In 2004, MacGowan was attacked and beaten with an iron in an alleyway behind a London pub. His assailant later said he beat MacGowan after an alleged homosexual proposition by the singer.
Since leaving The Pogues, he has formed a new band, Shane MacGowan and The Popes, and still records and tours.
His sister is Siobhan MacGowan, a songwriter in her own right as well as painter.