The Reason Shane MacGowan Never Had Any Children

The following article includes mentions of substance abuse.

Shane MacGowan left the music world mourning after his death at age 65. Adding to the sadness is that nobody will carry on his legacy, as MacGowan and his wife, Victoria Mary Clarke, never had any children. The artist announced The Pogues frontman had died in an Instagram post on November 30.

Clarke called MacGowan "the most beautiful soul and beautiful angel," adding that she was beyond grateful for his never-ending unconditional love. "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," Clarke wrote. "Thank you for your presence in this world. You made it so very bright, and you gave so much joy to so many people with your heart and soul and your music. You will live in my heart forever," she continued.

Clarke said MacGowan died from pneumonia (via The New York Times). He had been suffering from ill health for years. By the time MacGowan and Clarke finally married five years prior, he was in a wheelchair. In her "favorite photo" from the big day, MacGowan can be seen between Clarke and Johnny Depp. She admitted it'd been a crazy journey to the altar, noting that "to still be alive was a massive achievement." MacGowan took it to the edge during his six and a half decades on earth and it was his sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll lifestyle that led to MacGowan's decision to never have any kids.

But did he or didn't he?

Shane MacGowan spent the majority of his life walking on the dark side, which ultimately formed his decision to never have children. "I wouldn't wish myself on any kid as a father," MacGowan reportedly once told The Telegraph (via The Mirror). However, it has to be noted that in their obituary, The Telegraph reports that MacGowan and his longtime partner-turned-wife, Victoria Mary Clarke, never had any kids together, but it's believed that he "fathered several with other women, though he never knew how many."

Still, Clarke was adamant that they weren't made of good parenting stock. She told The Guardian that when their close friend, Johnny Depp, suggested they should have kids, she shot him down in flames. "I said the thing is, if we had children, Shane would probably set fire to them," Clarke recounted. "I was terrified Shane was going to burn down the house because he was always dropping his cigarettes. He set fire to John Belushi's bungalow at Chateau Marmont."

By the time MacGowan burst onto the punk rock scene, he was already in the grips of substance use disorder. The Independent reports that he had his first tipple of Guinness when he was just 5 years old. He was expelled from school for selling drugs and checked into the Bethlem Royal Psychiatric Hospital after suffering a Valium-related breakdown during art college. MacGowan struggled with bouts of anxiety and depression throughout his adult life in addition to battling addiction.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

The Irish-English punk rock icon

Regardless of whether or not Shane MacGowan had any children, he left an indelible mark on the music world. The Pogues frontman revolutionized the industry with his unique blend of Anglo-Irish Celtic folk fused punk rock. Despite being considered more Irish than a pint of Guinness, MacGowan was born in England much to his chagrin. Per the BBC, the singer-songwriter hailed from the posh suburban town of Royal Tunbridge Wells in Kent.

But MacGowan liked to hide the details of his heritage and persistently pointed out that he was only born in the UK because his mom was visiting her family when she gave birth to him on Christmas Day. That said, he attended prep and public school in England. MacGowan changed his accent to be more Irish, but he was still slammed by many in the Republic for being a "London Paddy" and epitomizing the "drunken stereotype" prevalent in the 70s and 80s. So it's little surprise that he remained paradoxical in nature. "The Irish nationalist and IRA supporter who wore a Union Jack jacket and wept when the Queen died," The Guardian writes.

Regardless of his Gaelic purity, MacGowan status as an Irish icon was never in doubt. The Irish president shared his condolences in an official statement. "His words have connected Irish people all over the globe to their culture and history, encompassing so many human emotions in the most poetic of ways," President Higgins wrote.