Wheelchair-bound Pogues frontman Shane Macgowan is 'glad to be alive'

Fairytale’s over: Legendary Pogues frontman Shane Macgowan, 64, says he is ‘grateful to wake up’ each day after his decades of hard drink and drugs left him in sleeping in a hospital bed and needing 24-hour care

  • The singer has been wheelchair-bound since 2015, when he fell and broke his pelvis 
  • He said he now sleeps in a ‘sumptuous’ hospital bed and needs daily help from carers due to mobility issues
  • Macgowan spent nine years as the lead singer and songwriter for the Pogues between 1982 and 1991
  • He then fronted the band on and off between 2001 and 2014 but now struggles to record or perform 
  • The former frontman of the Pogues Shane MacGowan has said he is ‘glad to be alive’ and ‘grateful to wake up’ in the morning after decades of drink and drug abuse.

    The singer, 64, who is now wheelchair-bound after breaking his pelvis in a fall in 2015, lives in a flat in Dublin with his wife Victoria Clarke. 

    In an interview with The Spectator, MacGowan said he now sleeps in a ‘sumptuous’ hospital bed and needs daily help from carers due to his mobility issues.

    MacGowan spent nine years as the lead singer and songwriter for the hugely popular Pogues between 1982 and 1991 and then also fronted the band on and off between 2001 and 2014. 

    The Irishman and his band famously collaborated with Kirsty MacColl for their 1987 single Fairytale of New York, which reached number two in the UK charts and remains one of the most popular Christmas songs of all time. 

    MacGowan continued performing despite years of trouble with alcohol and drugs that saw him lose all his teeth, until he received new implants in 2015.

    However, the singer said since his accident he has struggled to write, record or perform and has now turned his attention to art. 

    His first collection, titled The Eternal Buzz and the Crock of Gold, is being released in June and includes sketches, self-portraits, handwritten lyrics and photographs from his decades of touring. 

    He said when he wakes up in the morning he imagines himself ‘dropping 100 tabs of acid’ and is ‘glad to be alive’ and ‘grateful to wake up’. 

    The singer added: ‘Sometimes people visit, or we go out to dinner, or sometimes I end up in hospital. If I don’t end up in hospital, I thank Jesus and His Holy Mother and all the saints and angels.’ 

    Despite his previous alcoholism, MacGowan, who is a devout Catholic, said he may also enjoy a gin and tonic after taking Holy Communion.  

    The former frontman of the Pogues Shane Macgowan has said he is 'glad to be alive' after decades of drink and drug abuse. The singer, 64, who is now wheelchair-bound after breaking his pelvis in a fall in 2015, lives in a flat in Dublin with his wife Victoria Clarke. Pictured: MacGowan in 2017 at his mother's funeral

    The singer is seen in 1994 without most of his front teeth

    The former frontman of the Pogues Shane Macgowan has said he is ‘glad to be alive’ after decades of drink and drug abuse. The singer, 64, who is now wheelchair-bound after breaking his pelvis in a fall in 2015, lives in a flat in Dublin with his wife Victoria Clarke. Pictured: MacGowan in 2017 at his mother’s funeral (left); the singer is seen in 1994 without most of his front teeth

    Macgowan spent nine years as the lead singer and songwriter for the hugely popular Pogues between 1982 and 1991 and then also fronted the band on and off between 2001 and 2014. Above: MacGowan (second from right) performing with the Pogues in 1985

    Macgowan spent nine years as the lead singer and songwriter for the hugely popular Pogues between 1982 and 1991 and then also fronted the band on and off between 2001 and 2014. Above: MacGowan (second from right) performing with the Pogues in 1985

    MacGowan is seen with Clarke in 2007. The couple have been together for more than 35 years and got married in 2018

    MacGowan is seen with Clarke in 2007. The couple have been together for more than 35 years and got married in 2018

    The singer revealed that art has been a ‘lifelong passion’ and he misses ‘everything and nothing’ about his previous hard living. 

    He said his favourite artist is Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali, partly because his work reminds him of ‘being on acid’. 

    He said he spends a lot of time listening to music and watching films, and also enjoys seeing documentaries about the Royal Family with Clarke.

    Of his former bandmates, who included James Fearnley, Cait O’Riordan, Peter ‘Spider’ Stacey and Darryl Hunt, he said: ‘I love them all and wish them well’. 

    He said his favourite Pogues songs is 1990 hit Lorca’s Novena and Hot Dogs with Everything, which was released in 2008. 

    The singer was able to release his new art collection thanks to the fact that Clarke  kept dozens of mementos from his touring days and stored them in boxes. 

    MacGowan was born to Irish parents in Kent and grew up in the south-east of England. 

    He went to the prestigious private school Westminster School but was expelled in his second year. 

    MacGowan began drinking at the age of five, when his family gave him Guinness to help him sleep, and his father frequently took him to the local pub while he drank with his friends.

    The Irishman and his band famously collaborated with Kirsty MacColl (left) for their 1987 single Fairytale of New York, which reached number two in the UK charts and remains one of the most popular Christmas songs of all time. Above: The pair posing for the Christmas song

    The Irishman and his band famously collaborated with Kirsty MacColl (left) for their 1987 single Fairytale of New York, which reached number two in the UK charts and remains one of the most popular Christmas songs of all time. Above: The pair posing for the Christmas song

    MacGowan is seen performing in Brighton in 2002. He continued performing despite years of trouble with alcohol and drugs that saw him lose all his teeth, until he received new implants in 2015

    MacGowan is seen performing in Brighton in 2002. He continued performing despite years of trouble with alcohol and drugs that saw him lose all his teeth, until he received new implants in 2015

    MacGowan is seen with his wife at home in their flat in Dublin. She said in a recent interview that she wants to keep him alive for as long as possible

    MacGowan is seen with his wife at home in their flat in Dublin. She said in a recent interview that she wants to keep him alive for as long as possible 

    MacGowan is pictured in a pub in 1997, after his first stint with the Pogues had come to an end. The singer has battled drink and drug problems for much of his music career

    MacGowan is pictured in a pub in 1997, after his first stint with the Pogues had come to an end. The singer has battled drink and drug problems for much of his music career

    Members of the Pogues are seen in 1984. Pctured are Shane MacGowan, Cait O'Riordan, Andrew Rankin, Jem Finer

    Members of the Pogues are seen in 1984. Pctured are Shane MacGowan, Cait O’Riordan, Andrew Rankin, Jem Finer

    His first spell in rehab when he was just 17, after he became addicted to valium.  

    Clarke previously said that his drinking problem stemmed from years of ‘singing in bars and clubs where people go to drink and have fun’. 

    She claimed that his alcohol problems were made worse by his introduction to hard drugs, such as heroin.

    In 1999, Irish singer Sinead O’Connor reported him to the police for snorting heroin. 

    MacGowan later said the move was a wake-up call that helped him to stop using the drug. 

    The singer would also often perform drunk on stage and was pictured on several occasions looking worse for wear after drinking. 

    His famous collaboration with MacColl, who was killed after being hit by a speedboat while on holiday with her children in 2000, came in 1987 with the Pogues’ Christmas track Fairytale of New York.

    It has continued to be popular with both ordinary fans and music critics and has reached the top 20 in the UK charts on 18 separate occasions since its original release. 

    MacGowan is seen performing with his Pogues bandmates in 1988. He said he loves them all and wishes them

    MacGowan is seen performing with his Pogues bandmates in 1988. He said he loves them all and wishes them 

    MacGowan is seen with a drink in hand in 1994, after he had stopped performing with the Pogues. The singer fronted the band again on and off between 2001 and 2014

    MacGowan is seen with a drink in hand in 1994, after he had stopped performing with the Pogues. The singer fronted the band again on and off between 2001 and 2014

    MacGowan after receiving a lifetime achievement award in 2006

    The singer in 2005

    MacGowan after receiving a lifetime achievement award in 2006 (left); the singer in 2005. The musician has been sober since 2016

    The most recent song MacGowan has written is called Bad Detective. He told the Spectator that, despite his physical problems, he wants to finish recording another album.  

    MacGowan and Clarke have been together for 35 years, with the journalist supporting him through his drink and drug battles.  

    After his 2016 fall in which he broke his pelvis, he took a tumble a second time and broke his knee.  

    Clarke said MacGowan finally became sober in 2106 after a lengthy stay in hospital. He then opted to stay away from alcohol when he came home. 

    In 2020, a film about his life, Crock of Gold, was released. It was produced by Hollywood star Johnny Depp, who is a close friend of the couple.