Rock stars are supposed to live hard and die young (and gorgeous) before they make a bad album. But jug-eared wolfman Shane MacGowan was never gorgeous, and he grew up too tough for the muses to kill. The Irish punk rocker has outlived everyone’s deadpool despite the combined efforts of every drug in the Western world.
Opinions of The Pogues frontman vary widely–to most, he’s a hero, while to others, a tragic talent who needed to be saved from himself, but all agree he’s a magnificent songwriter who performs from the heart. Here, then, are the weird details of an interesting life.
1) He started drinking at four years old. An aunt gave him booze and cigarettes in return for promising to not worship the devil, though that might not have worked, considering he’s penned songs like “The Boys from County Hell” and “If I Should Fall from Grace with God.” From there his course was pretty well set; He was in detox by eight, and expelled from school at 14 for possession of “dope, acid, and pills.” But a year before his first drink came an even more defining moment–his earliest memory is of singing on a table for “more than 40 friends and relatives.” So he’s always been a musician first, and a chemistry set second.
2) He donated a door to a children’s charity. When the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children went looking for celebrity donations to auction off to charity, they never expected to get a door. But that’s what the bard gave them, and that’s what they had to put out to bid. The door raised €1602 (about $2,082), though it didn’t hurt that he had drawn a face on the door and added his signature. They should just be grateful they weren’t the recipients of the time he auctioned off a jar of urine.
3) He had a reality special about (not) trying to grow his own food. Back in 2009, MacGowan made Ozzy Osbourne’s attempts to use a remote control look like nanotechnological research. For an hour, Irish audiences watched as long-suffering girlfriend Victoria Mary Clarke struggled to raise homegrown crops. His contribution was a few tips and avoiding any work–which, seeing as it might result in bodily fluids expelled on the produce, was probably the most productive thing he could do. The Irish Independent called the show “an alternative to all the how-to gardening programmes.”
Some of the crops did well, but the potatoes turned black, either out of sympathy for MacGowan’s liver, or because they heard him sing so many emigration songs, they thought causing a famine was what good potatoes did. And for some reason, the show ended with the aforementioned urine auction.
4) He once ate a Beach Boys’ CD. Not that he could have necessarily eaten potatoes. He has dental implants now, but for the longest time, MacGowan’s mouth was a fascinating pit of despair. Although some of his teeth were sacrificed pitching headfirst over a wall during a particularly boozy blast of vomit, the weirdest damage he ever wreaked upon his chompers was the day he tried to eat volume three of The Beach Boys’ Greatest Hits.
In an incident that could not possibly have had anything to do with drugs, Clarke found her boyfriend convinced that World War III was underway, that he was leader of the Irish Republic, hosting a superpowers summit, and that the best way to demonstrate America’s cultural inferiority was to eat a Beach Boys CD in front of the country’s leaders. And to be fair, he had the clarity of mind to chew up the least-essential album by one of America’s most overrated bands.
5) He’s an ageless bloodsucker. When UK comic creators Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon were designing an immortal Irish vampire for their blasphemous cosmic western Preacher, they reportedly modeled their heroin-addicted hemophile Cassidy after MacGowan.
So you see — you really can’t kill Shane MacGowan. And if you see blood running from his mouth, check his teeth for shards of Beach Boys — both the CD and the band members.