Philip Chevron, longtime guitarist and songwriter for Celtic folk-punk band the Pogues, has died at the age of 56 after a lengthy battle with cancer.
“After a long illness Philip passed away peacefully this morning,” read a message on the Pogues’ website Tuesday. “We all send our sincere condolences to his family. He was unique. We'll miss him terribly. Dublin town, and the world, just got smaller. His loved ones are in our thoughts.”
Chevron, born in Dublin as Phillip Ryan, became a fixture of the Irish punk scene in the late '70s as the lead singer of the cult band The Radiators from Space. After the group broke up in 1981, Chevron moved from Dublin to London, where he befriended Pogues lead singer Shane MacGowan.
In 1984, Chevron was invited to join the Pogues as a guitarist, performing on the band’s breakthrough albums “Rum, Sodomy and the Last” and “If I Should Fall From Grace With God.” Throughout the 1980s and '90s, the Pogues became well known for their fusion of traditional Celtic music with a whiskey-soaked punk ethos. During his time in the Pogues, Chevron played guitar, banjo and mandolin and wrote several of the band’s best-known songs, including the Irish immigration ballad “Thousands Are Sailing.”
Chevron performed with the band for years, staying on after MacGowan left in 1991 and was replaced by Joe Strummer, the former Clash frontman. He ultimately left the band in 1994 after a rash of helth problems fueled by drug and alcohol use. The Pogues broke up two years later, but reformed in 2001 with Chevron and MacGowan back in tow.
In 2007, Chevron was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. By 2009, the Pogues announced in a statement that he had fully recovered from the cancer and chemotherapy with a clean bill of health. In May 2013, however, the band announced that Chevron’s cancer had returned and that this time it was “lethal.” His last public appearance was at an August benefit concert.