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The Pogues' Spider Stacy Pays Tribute to Late Bandmate Shane MacGowan: 'The Coolest of Us'

MacGowan died in November after a year-long health battle. He was 65

<p>Joanne Davidson/Shutterstock </p> Spider Stacy and Shane MacGowan in the UK in June 2005

Joanne Davidson/Shutterstock

Spider Stacy and Shane MacGowan in the UK in June 2005

Two months after Shane MacGowan’s death, The Pogues’ Spider Stacy is reflecting on the life and legacy of his friend.

In a candid essay written for Mojo, Stacy, 65, traced the course of his decades-long friendship with the Irish singer-songwriter, which began when they met in London in 1977. MacGowan died in November after a year-long health battle. He was 65.

“It’s a strange place to find myself, writing about my friend who has died, my friend without whom my life would have been utterly different,” Stacy’s tribute began.

“And I honestly don’t know what to write – so much has already been said, so many beautiful, heartfelt words from people who have lost someone dear to them, a brother, a lover… someone who was besides all else such a towering figure, a genius who could shape the hopes and fears, the sad, stained glory of the human condition into such extraordinary forms,” he continued, shouting out his former bandmate Andrew Ranken, who described MacGowan’s work as “brilliant, timeless, shining songs.”

Stacy continued, “Maybe that’s the key. Shane, when I first got to know him, back in the dreaming turbulence of our early twenties, was always the coolest of us. He understood the essence of what made something matter, of what was real.”

<p>Joseph Okpako/Redferns via Getty </p> Shane MacGowan of The Pogues performs on stage at Brixton Academy in December 2013 in London

Joseph Okpako/Redferns via Getty

Shane MacGowan of The Pogues performs on stage at Brixton Academy in December 2013 in London

Related: Pogues Frontman Shane MacGowan Left Behind over $10K for a Bar Tab at His Funeral: 'It Was Shane's Last Request'

The tin whistle player traced the beginnings of the Celtic punk band, best known for the holiday favorite “Fairytale of New York,” including the story behind one of their first performances at a club, which came about after MacGowan “accosted” a club employee and claimed the band, “which played Irish rebel songs,” would be playing there. The “ploy…worked,” Stacy recalled.

“The gig itself was something of a farce but an idea was taking shape. What had started with Shane sneering out a punk version of 'Poor Paddy on the Railway' on a friend’s acoustic guitar turned into something of a different order to anything we could have imagined.”

Stacy continued, “Somewhere towards the end of our first tour I told Shane I thought we were the best band in the world. He scoffed. ‘Of course we f---ing are!’ Heroes live forever.”

<p>Gie Knaeps/Getty</p> Studio portrait of The Pogues with Spider Stacy as singer, Philip Chevron, James Fearnley, Jem Finer, Andrew Ranken, Darryl Hunt, Terry Woods, Live Aid Festival, Puurs, Belgium in May 1992.

Gie Knaeps/Getty

Studio portrait of The Pogues with Spider Stacy as singer, Philip Chevron, James Fearnley, Jem Finer, Andrew Ranken, Darryl Hunt, Terry Woods, Live Aid Festival, Puurs, Belgium in May 1992.

Related: The Pogues' Frontman and 'Fairytale of New York' Singer Shane MacGowan's Cause of Death Revealed

MacGowan’s death was announced in November by his wife and longtime partner Victoria Mary Clarke. She called him “the light that I hold before me and the measure of my dreams and the love ❤️ of my life and the most beautiful soul and beautiful angel and the sun and the moon and the start and end of everything that I hold dear” in the lengthy message shared on Instagram.

“I am blessed beyond words to have met him and to have loved him and to have been so endlessly and unconditionally loved by him and to have had so many years of life and love ❤️ and joy and fun and laughter and so many adventures. There’s no way to describe the loss that I am feeling and the longing for just one more of his smiles that lit up my world,” she continued. “You will live in my heart forever.”

<p>Martyn Goodacre/Getty</p> Singer and musician Shane MacGowan, of the Pogues, at the family home in Nenagh, Tipperary, Ireland, 1997

Martyn Goodacre/Getty

Singer and musician Shane MacGowan, of the Pogues, at the family home in Nenagh, Tipperary, Ireland, 1997

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Clarke, a journalist, had been documenting her partner’s health issues in the months leading up to his death. He was diagnosed with encephalitis, an uncommon and potentially life threatening condition that causes the brain to swell, in December 2022, per Sky News. He was in intensive care from the time of the diagnosis until his death nearly a year later, the outlet reported.

Days before his death, Clarke thanked fans for their messages of support for her husband and revealed that Stacy and Terry Woods had been to visit MacGowan in the hospital in a post on X (formerly Twitter). “Love and prayers for everyone who is struggling right now hang in there!”

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