The Pogues are an Irish rock band from London, formed in Kings Cross, a district of North London, in 1982 and fronted by Shane MacGowan. The band reached international prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. MacGowan left the band in 1991 due to drinking problems but the band continued first with Joe Strummer and then with Spider Stacy on vocals before breaking up in 1996 — only to reform, with Shane MacGowan in 2001.
The Pogues — vocalist Shane MacGowan, Spider Stacy on tin whistle, accordion player James Fearnley, Jeremy "Jem" Finer on banjo, drummer Andrew David Ranken and bassist Cait O'Riordan — made its debut in 1984 with RED ROSES FOR ME. The album's 13 songs established the Pogues' unique sound as it mixed MacGowan originals — "Transmetropolitan" and "Dark Streets of London" — with traditional Irish tunes — "The Auld Triangle" and "Poor Paddy." The expanded edition's six bonus tracks include "Whiskey You're The Devil," "Muirshin Duirkin'" and "The Wild Rover".
Produced by Elvis Costello, the Pogues' sophomore album, 1985's RUM, SODOMY & THE LASH, brought the band's talents into sharp relief with 12 tracks. Featuring new guitarist Philip Chevron, the album included some of the band's best work — "A Pair of Brown Eyes," "Navigator," and the righteous anger of "The Sick Bed Of Cuchulainn." The expanded edition includes four bonus songs from the 1986 EP, Poguetry In Motion — "London Girl," "Rainy Night In Soho," "The Body Of An American" and the traditional "Planxty Noel Hill" — along with "A Pistol For Paddy Garcia" and "The Parting Glass."
Steve Lillywhite produced back-to-back classics for the Pogues starting with 1988's IF SHOULD FALL FROM GRACE WITH GOD. The album peaked at #3 in the UK and featuring three new members — multi-instrumentalist Terry Woods, Darryl Hunt bassist, who replaced O'Riordan who married Costello and Philip Chevron guitarist. The album's 13 songs represent a high-water mark in the band's career and capture the Pogues at the peak of its' powers on "Birmingham Six," a withering political track that got the band blacklisted by the British Independent Broadcasting Authority, along with MacGowan's duet with Kirsty MacColl on "Fairytale Of New York," a massive hit in the U.K. and U.S. The expanded edition's six bonus tracks include the traditional Irish song "Mountain Dew" arranged by the Pogues and The Dubliners, "The Battle March (Medley)" penned by Woods and MacGowan's own "Shanne Bradley."
The second Lillywhite production — PEACE & LOVE — was released in 1989 and reached #5 on the U.K. album charts. The album's 14 tracks include MacGowan originals — "White City" and "London You're A Lady" — augmented with remarkable contributions by other members including Finer's "Misty Morning, Albert Bridge," Chevron's "Lorelei" and Wood's "Gartloney Rats." The expanded edition features six bonus tracks including the title track from 1990's EP, Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah, a Top 20 Modern Rock hit in the U.S., "Star Of A County Down" and a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Honky Tonk Women."
Produced by Joe Strummer of The Clash, the Pogues' final studio album with MacGowan — HELL'S DITCH — was released in 1990. The 13-song collection includes the dreamy blues waltz of "Summer In Siam," as well as a pair of songs inspired by literary legends Jean Genet and Federica Garcia Lorca — the title track and "Lorca's Novena," respectively. The expanded edition includes seven bonus tracks featuring "Jack's Heroes" and "Whiskey In The Jar' from the Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah EP, plus "Bastard Landlord" an alternate version of "Rainy Night In Soho" from RUM, SODOMY & THE LASH.
Shane MacGowan became increasingly unreliable — failing to turn up for the opening dates of their 1988 tour of America, and prevented the band from promoting Hell's Ditch — so in 1991 the band sacked him. Vocal duties were for a time handled by Joe Strummer.
Although the band release no materiel with Joe Stummer at the time, LIVE IN LONDON (The Pogues with Joe Strummer) was released in 2014.
After Strummer's departure, Spider Stacy took over on lead vocals permanently, and the remaining seven Pogues recorded WAITING FOR HERB, which contained the band's third and final top twenty single, "Tuesday Morning", which became their best-selling single internationally.
Terry Woods and James Fearnley then left the band and were replaced by David Coulter and James McNally respectively. Within months of their departures, ill health forced Phil Chevron to leave the band; he was replaced by his former guitar technician, Jamie Clarke. This lineup recorded the band's seventh (and final) studio album, POGUE MAHONE. The album was a commercial failure, and, following Jem Finer's decision to leave the band in 1996, the remaining members decided it was time to call it quits.
The band reformed in 2001, and has been playing regularly ever since, most notably on the US East Coast around St Patrick's Day and across the UK and Ireland every December. The group has yet to record any new music and, according to Spider Stacy, has no inclination to do so.
The Pogues celebrated their 30th anniversary with two shows at The Olympia in Paris, France, (in September 2012). The shows were filmed and recorded for a live album and DVD — THE POGUES IN PARIS.
Long time member, Phillip Chevron, died on October 8, 2013 in Dublin at age 56.