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    At 73, I’m raising my middle finger to mortality, says Genesis rocker Peter Gabriel ahead of album release

    IT’S fair to assume that Peter Gabriel doesn’t have a huge amount in common with ultimate big mouth Liam Gallagher.For decades, as solo artist, soundtrack composer and human rights campaigner, the singer who began his musical journey with Genesis in the late Sixties has cut a calm, collected figure.
    Genesis rocker Peter Gabriel is back with new musicCredit: Nadav Kandar
    Each track on Gabriel’s upcoming album has been accompanied by a striking image, commissioned by GabrielCredit: Nadav Kandar
    But I can report that he and Liam are partial to a contemptuous hand gesture which dates back to ancient Greece — the middle finger.
    So let me explain its unlikely significance in the cerebral world of Peter Gabriel.
    Throughout this year, at every full moon, he has released a song from i/o, a studio album more than 20 years in the making.
    Each track has been accompanied by a striking image, commissioned by Gabriel, from a renowned visual artist.
    In the case of Road To Joy, which tells of a person emerging from locked-in syndrome and near death, that artist is Chinese activist Ai Weiwei.
    Against a bright pink background, white line drawings form a powerful pattern of raised middle fingers.
    To mark the release of i/o in its entirety — 12 eclectic songs presented in three different mixes — I’ve had an illuminating email exchange with Gabriel, who provides this explanation.
    “Besides being an inspirational artist, Ai Weiwei is an extraordinarily brave human rights campaigner,” he says.
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    “His oft-used motif of his middle finger is usually addressed to power and all its abuse, but in the context of this record, I see it as a middle finger salute to another power, death.”
    Picking up on one of his album’s recurring themes, he continues: “At age 73, mortality creeps into the rear-view mirror. You either bring it to the front screen or run away from it.
    “I am very interested in longevity research which I used to believe was a billionaires’ plaything but now see as a critical driver for all manner of medical breakthroughs for all of us.”
    Gabriel was only 52 when his last studio album of original material appeared, 2002’s Up — and much of that was conceived in the Nineties.
    He doesn’t want people getting “bored” or “oversaturated” with his work and so carries a certain mystique.
    But now, re-energised, he’s back with i/o, some of the most compelling and accessible music of his storied career.
    Ambitious as ever, he weaves together conventional instruments, sophisticated electronica, African-inspired rhythms, choirs and orchestras, topped off by his commanding vocal delivery undimmed by the passing years.
    Since he left prog rock trailblazers Genesis in 1975, Gabriel has opened up new horizons in music and been an early adopter of the latest technology.
    But, right from his first solo single, Solsbury Hill, he’s also been in thrall to nature.
    It’s typical of him to choose the full moon to release his songs, asking fans to check the sky for when the next one is imminent.
    Gabriel says: “If you look up at the stars, you get a good sense of where we belong. But we are getting so good at isolating ourselves from the natural world that created us. We tend to anchor our heads to a totally man-made environment.
    “We are also entering the age of an additional virtual existence powered by AI, so the idea of remembering nature is important and natural landmarks like the moon and the passage of time seems to fit well to the themes of i/o.”
    For the project, Gabriel reactivated his old Full Moon Club “in which I would talk to fans each full moon about what had been going on in my life.
    “In some ways, this is just a continuation of that,” he reports.
    Even if the seeds of i/o were sown years ago, the long-awaited follow-up to Up feels very much of the moment, capturing what’s on the singer’s mind right now.
    Opener Panopticom flips the idea of 18th-Century philosopher and social reformer Jeremy Bentham, who designed a circular, multi-storey prison — a panopticon — in which all the occupants could be viewed by one guard situated in a central tower.
    In Gabriel’s song, ordinary people can keep watch on those in power, thus turning mass surveillance on its head.
    ‘I wrote my mum a beautiful melody’
    The Court suggests the justice system is a much abused but necessary part of civilised society. It comes with an earworm chorus,
    “The court will rise/While the pillars all fall.”
    Playing For Time is an old tune which has been performed live without lyrics but now cast as a rumination on getting older.
    He decides that having “interesting experiences means richer memories to feed you when you get to my age”.
    And Still is one of Gabriel’s most personal efforts, an affectionate, emotional tribute to his mother, who died in 2016.
    For one of his filmed “deep dives” into i/o’s songs, he elaborates: “When my mum died, I wanted to do something for her, but it took a while before I felt comfortable and distant enough to be able to write something.
    “In the middle, I wanted to write my mum a beautiful melody. She loved classical music, so we have a beautiful cello playing there.”
    Though i/o incorporates sad and serious subjects, it still exhibits genuine joy in the music with closing track and final full moon release, the upbeat Live And Let Live, offering a message of hope for humanity through forgiveness.
    The song draws inspiration from Gabriel’s involvement in The Elders movement, an independent group of global leaders founded by Nelson Mandela in 2007, “working for peace, justice, human rights and a sustainable planet”.
    Live And Let Live features the Soweto Gospel Choir, a bold string arrangement and name checks “Madiba”, fellow Elder, Desmond Tutu and civil rights beacon Martin Luther King, Jr.
    Gabriel also references the famous quote usually credited to Gandhi, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”
    With conflict raging in the Middle East and Ukraine, his words, “When we forgive, we can move on”, have particular resonance, even if the protagonists might find them hard to accept right now.
    Gabriel tells me: “One of the great privileges I have had in my life was to get to know and work with both Mandela and Tutu with The Elders.”
    A member of the group’s advisory board, he adds: “I was so moved by Nelson Mandela’s description of when he came out of jail to become President of South Africa and stood next to some of those who had kept him in prison and been responsible for the death of many of his friends.
    I/O is Peter’s tenth studio album and is released on December 1stCredit: RECORD COMPANY
    “He described how old feelings of fear and hate swelled up in him, but he realised that unless he could find a way to work with them, to build a different future with them, and ultimately to forgive them, he would remain their prisoner for the rest of his days.
    “Although impossible now, this type of thinking may be the only hope for peace in the Middle East.”
    Next, we move on to the soaring title track, i/o, which stands for input/output and is seen on various electronic devices.
    The song is the product of an idea long percolating in Gabriel’s brain about everyone and everything on Earth being connected in some way.
    It includes the memorable lines, “Stuff coming out, stuff going in, I’m just a part of everything.”
    Gabriel offers me this insight into his thinking: “In the West, we see ourselves as independent, self-determining individuals.
    ‘AI is about to turn world upside down’
    “In many other cultures, humans are much more seen as part of the whole, as a part of everything.”
    He believes the human race must take collective responsibility to deal with its challenges.
    “We are now facing very real, existential problems and realistic, energetic optimism is the only possible way to tackle them,” he affirms.
    “Defeatist pessimism never achieved anything, except possibly increased sales of alcohol.”
    This brings him on to an existential threat of great concern to Gabriel (and the rest of us), Artificial Intelligence, a part of modern life he hopes we can turn to our advantage.
    “AI is about to turn our world upside down and should be able to do all our jobs, including mine, better than we can,” he says.
    “So we need to do some urgent thinking and brainstorming about how we can best live with each other and AI in the future.
    “People talk of the ‘age of abundance’ and clearly that’s ridiculous for most people struggling to pay their bills but I do believe it’s coming if we can get through this difficult period of transition.”
    It’s clear that forward-thinker Gabriel likes to see the bigger picture but, on a more personal note, the story of i/o wouldn’t be complete without all his amazing collaborators, a subject he tackles with relish.
    I can’t remember an album with such a long list of credits including the three mixers Mark “Spike” Stent (Bright-Side Mix), Tchad Blake (Dark-Side Mix) and Hans-Martin Buff (In-Side Mix in Dolby Atmos).
    Then there’s a fellow sonic pioneer, Brian Eno, who adds his singular flourishes to five songs, including “haunting synths” on Panopticom.
    “I’ve always been lucky and smart enough to have surrounded myself with very talented people,” says Gabriel.
    “Brian thinks like no one else and I always enjoy working with him. My job was to provide him with opportunities for pleasure without responsibility.”
    Four Kinds Of Horses, which considers the roots of terrorism, began as Gabriel’s offering to a project by XL Records founder Richard Russell called Everything Is Recorded.
    “Richard wanted me to generate some ideas with piano and voice,” he says.
    “When he decided not to use what I had done, I felt I could shape it into something special and it evolved with a different chorus and groove into Four Kinds Of Horses.”
    For the Tamla Motown- inspired This Is Home, Gabriel teamed up with American DJ and producer Skrillex.
    He explains: “Skrillex approached me several years ago and we had a good exchange of ideas. Then he disappeared back into his normal world.
    “I had started something that felt good, which I went on to build a song around. I tried a new twist on an old Tamla groove and soon the wheels were in place.”
    Another name that appears several times in i/o’s credits is Gabriel’s musician daughter Melanie, who provides backing vocals.
    He says: “I have always loved working with my kids and Melanie has such a gentle and soulful voice which really adds mood to some of my songs.”
    Gabriel also spares a thought for Ríoghnach Connolly from folk duo The Breath who “has an amazing full and emotional voice. It was a real treat to work with her this time.”
    Next he moves on to his orchestra arranger and conductor John Metcalfe, who helps give i/o such musical breadth and depth.
    “I have worked with John for many years and we have a shorthand when communicating about arrangements.
    “Often, we will talk through different approaches, but in the case of Road To Joy, it was entirely John’s wonderful and crazy idea.”
    Then Gabriel honours the two choirs involved. “Orphei Drängar is an amazing Swedish male voice choir which produces dark, dreamy tones that you don’t hear elsewhere,” he says.
    “And I have worked with the Soweto Gospel Choir several times. It’s a joy each time. I am always surprised by the passion and musicality of their performance.”
    Finally, he turns his attention to visual artists who add extra dimension to each song.
    Gabriel says: “I was a little apprehensive about whether some of my favourite artists would want to work with me.
    Read More on The Sun
    “I was delighted at the number who said yes. Great visual work can open you up in many different ways than music alone.”
    That includes Ai Weiwei’s life-affirming middle finger salute — Peter Gabriel’s way of saying “Up yours!” to the Grim Reaper.
    Peter Gabriel’s I/O4.5/5
    1. Panoptico
    2.The Court
    3. Playing For Time
    4. i/o
    5. Four Kinds Of Horses
    6. Road To Joy
    7. So Much
    8. Olive Tree
    9. Love Can Heal
    10. This Is Home
    11. And Still
    12. Live And Let Live More

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    Rita Ora, Gwyneth Paltrow and Lily Allen reveal their Spotify Wrapped playlists as Taylor Swift and Dave triumph

    YES, it’s that time of the year again, when Spotify Wrapped shows streamers who they have been listening to and for how long.The individualised charts, generated by listening habits, give Spotify subscribers a personalised roll-out of their sonic year.
    Taylor Swift was the UK’s most streamed singer of 2023Credit: Getty
    Flowers by Miley Cyrus was the top streamed song globallyCredit: Getty
    Rita Ora’s Spotify Wrapped’s most played artist was . . . herselfCredit: PA
    And they revealed that Rita Ora’s own most played artist was . . . herself, coming ahead of Bruce Springsteen.
    The singer took to her Instagram stories to share her completely un-narcissistic favourites to her 16million followers.
    As well as being her own most played artist, her recent single Praising You, featuring Fatboy Slim, also topped her most listened to singles.
    Rita Ora has been keeping Rita Ora busy.
    She wrote: “Me and the flute have been killing it this year. lol.”
    While Sprinter, by Gen Z Brit rapper Dave — nope, me neither — was the UK’s most played single, Taylor Swift was our most streamed singer of 2023.
    Her record Midnights topped the album charts, while, incredibly, she also slipped in at No5 with Lover, originally released four years ago.
    Brit entrants included Harry Styles (No3 with Harry’s House) and the Arctic Monkeys, in at No4 with AM.
    Most read in Music
    In the artists category, Ed Sheeran, a man we’ve all heard of, creeps in at No5.
    Globally, Taylor Swift unseated Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny after a three-year reign as the service’s most-steamed act. He drops to No2.
    Podcasts are also taken into account and, look away Harry and Meghan, Archetypes failed to chart.
    Depressingly, Joe Rogan was the UK’s most listened to broadcaster, with his alt-right conspiracy theory sessions on The Joe Rogan Experience beating Steven Bartlett’s Diary Of A CEO.

    Laura Ferguson, Spotify head of global marketing experience, describes the annual lists, now in their tenth year, as, “Almost like election night”.
    Unquestionably, it is the cultural event of the year for anyone under 40.
    Actually, sod it, I’m 41 and I still excitedly “unwrapped” my personal highlights yesterday . . . only to discover I have the musical tastes of a 14-year- old schoolgirl.
    Harry Styles’ album Harry’s House was the UK’s third most streamed recordCredit: AFP
    Ed Sheeran was the UK’s fifth most streamed artistCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    Lily Allen was among the celebs sharing their Spotify Wrapped screenshotsCredit: Splash
    Taylor, then, was my most played artist while, apparently, April was a particularly busy month for her track Anti-hero, which I played, on loop, more than is probably healthy.
    I listened to 3,379 songs in total, with Spotify telling me: “2023 was a feast for my ears.” My ears, then, also lapped up Lewis Capaldi, Ed Sheeran, Pink and The Weeknd.
    Cool, I am not.
    Celebs, however, were quick to bolster their eclectic credentials, with Gwyneth Paltrow, Lily Allen and Charli XCX all sharing their Spotify screenshots.
    Not surprisingly, theirs were considerably more respectable.Until next year . . . 

    Taylor Swift
    The Weeknd
    Arctic Monkeys
    Ed Sheeran


    Sprinter, by Dave and Central Cee
    Flowers, by Miley Cyrus
    Kill Bill, by SZA
    Boy’s A Liar Pt 2, by Pink Pantheress & Ice Spice
    Escapism, by RAYE feat. 070 Shake


    Midnights, by Taylor Swift
    SOS, by SZA
    Harry’s House, by Harry Styles
    AM, by Arctic Monkeys
    Lover, by Taylor Swift


    The Joe Rogan Experience
    The Diary Of A CEO with Stephen Bartlett
    Off Menu with Ed Gamble and James Acaster
    Rob Beckett and Josh Widdicombe’s Parenting Hell
    Call Her Daddy


    Taylor Swift
    Bad Bunny
    The Weeknd
    Peso Pluma


    Flowers, by Miley Cyrus
    Kill Bill, by SZA
    As It Was, by Harry Styles
    Seven by Jungkook feat. Latto
    Ella Bella Sola, by Armado & Peso Pluma

    Read More on The Sun

    Un Verano Sin, by Bad Bunny
    Midnights by Taylor Swift
    SOS, by SZA
    Starboy by The Weeknd
    Manana Sera Bonito by Karol G


    The Joe Rogan Experience
    Call Her Daddy
    Huberman Lab
    Anything Goes with Emma Chamberlain
    On Purpose with Jay Shetty More

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    James Blunt opens up on his life in one-night cinema film and reveals why he pours emotions into his songs

    MOCKED as a “posh boy” when starting out, James Blunt was repeatedly turned down by record labels because of his privileged background.But just like cream, he rose to the top, becoming one of our most successful artists.
    James Blunt, in his movie One Brit Wonder, was turned down by record labels because of his privileged backgroundCredit: .
    The You’re Beautiful singer has now told of his life — and some of his most grounding experiences — in the film One Brit Wonder.
    As the title suggests, James, one of the funniest and most self-deprecating blokes in the business, sends himself up a lot during the 90-minute documentary.
    He also enlists his parents to give some of their anecdotes. And the results are eye-opening.
    James talks about being packed off to boarding school aged eight, saying: “It is a weird experience being dropped off. I was given a Nintendo and three days later I asked, ‘When are my parents coming back?’, and I was told ‘at Christmas’. It was September.”
    Mum Jane says: “He makes it sound like it was too early. Well, he was eight, so it probably was.”
    She later adds: “He is a loner and he is short. He was bullied but he is funny, so he made friends.”
    Let’s be clear though, James is clearly the apple of his parents’ eye and they supported his career as a captain in the Army as well as when he turned to music.
    Dad Charles, an ex-Army colonel, explains: “I used to do the merchandise. I’d cycle to the post office and post them around the world.”
    Most read in Bizarre
    James uses the anecdotes to help fans understand why he chooses to put his emotions down in his songs.
    No Bravery, for example, was written about his time serving in Kosovo, and Monsters was a song he wrote for his dad when he was told he needed a kidney transplant.
    James says of that one, “It’s the only way I can express those things to him,” before admitting his upbringing made him “emotionally stunted”.
    He adds: “I am very close to my family but we don’t discuss feelings.”
    Moving home-movie footage shows James’s video diary from his time in Kosovo during its 1999 war, where he was tasked with helping families identify bodies of their loved ones.
    He explains: “The two smells from Kosovo were death and asparagus, because we’d have asparagus soup in our lunches.
    “It would be very easy to be swamped by the great sadness that is inhumanity.
    “We looked after each other and we made light of the scenario in the privacy of our own troop.”
    The film, which will be shown in cinemas for one night only, is also littered with what James does best — making people laugh.
    Ed Sheeran appears and says he became a superfan when James opened for Sir Elton John in Ipswich in 2005. Ed says: “I took his Corona from the stage and took it home. I was a big fan.
    “He jokes his album is a ‘greatest hit’, but he has this incredible catalogue of music which has been influential to me and to other people.
    “He’s become a national treasure where people are proud of him.”
    Ed couldn’t be more correct. Fans of James would be mad to miss this.

    One Brit Wonder is in cinemas on Wednesday and will be followed by a live concert. Tickets from

    NOEL GALLAGHER is gearing up to return to the studio to record his next chart-topping album.
    He narrowly missed the number one spot with Council Skies back in June, but perhaps this next one will be a winner.
    The former Oasis frontman said he’s going to start recording in the New Year after writing enough tunes for two albums.
    Noel said: “I’ve had to stop writing because I need to get these songs recorded and get them out there so I can write some more.
    “In the pandemic there was nothing to do all day so I just wrote songs. There’s another two albums worth of material there.
    “I think I’m going to be back in the studio in Jan-uary, so we’ll see where it goes from there.”
    Noel, 56, says his next record has a lot to live up to because he thinks his last release is the best collection of songs he has released on one album.
    The High Flying Birds frontman is the songwriter behind anthems including Wonderwall, Don’t Look Back In Anger and Champagne Supernova, and he admitted that even two decades on he is still learning about the impact of his tracks on an audience.
    He said: “I wouldn’t still be doing it after 30 years if I didn’t love it.
    “You tend to find out more about the songs when you play them live than when you’re just listening to them at home. It’s a special thing.
    “The live experience although the songs are the same it’s a little bit different.”

    Leigh-Anne Pinnock stunned in double denim as she performed to a celeb-studded crowd in LondonCredit: Getty
    POP star Leigh-Anne was up on stage in a shot at an event in London.
    The former Little Mix singer performed to a celeb-studded crowd including Girls Aloud band members Kimberley Walsh, Nadine Coyle and Nicola Roberts.
    Radio 1 presenter Vick Hope was also at the party, which celebrated Smirnoff Vodka’s global We Do Us campaign with Tilting The Lens, supporting the disabled community in clubs, pubs and bars.
    Leigh-Anne wore this handkerchief top and matching flares at the bash, where she performed along with Mae Muller and the Spice Girls’ Melanie C.
    Guests enjoyed a free bar flowing with Smirnoff tipples including mango and passionfruit martinis, raspberry crush spritz and No.21 espresso martinis. The hangover was hell, but worth it.
    Keane to hear new Love song
    IT’S one of the most popular Christmas films of all time and now Keane have dropped a previously unheard song to coincide with us all watching Love Actually.
    The band, fronted by Tom Chaplin, wrote a single of the same name which was put forward for the 2003 film.
    Director Richard Curtis ended up turning it down but the group have revealed he regretted the decision.
    Now the track, out today, has launched as part of their 20th anniversary for their debut album Hopes And Fears.
    Keyboardist Tim Oxley-Rice said: “Richard always very graciously said he loved the song and wished he’d put it in the film. We all loved the song too, but having called it Love Actually, it was very hard to do anything with it.”
    Admitting his error, filmmaker Richard said: “I realised what a dreadful mistake that had been when, six months later, Hopes & Fears was No1 in the charts. It is so wonderful that the song is now being released for everyone to hear.”

    Dua Lipa stuns in New York as she promotes her new single HoudiniCredit: Getty
    DUA LIPA is taking a bite out of the Big Apple as she spends time in New York promoting new single Houdini.
    The track, which narrowly missed the top spot, is from her upcoming third album.
    Read More on The Sun
    Dua, who flashed her midriff in baggy jeans and a leather jacket, but covered up on a night out said: “The album was intimately in diary form, so I wrote about things when they happened.
    “When you look back on (an incident) a month later your perspective changes. It’s important to take a breather.”
    Friends in need-le
    IN what is becoming an ABBA Voyage Christmas tradition, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Sir Ian McKellen have joined forces again to knit their famous pals festive jumpers.
    In a new video the pair, who have been busying making knits for Kylie Minogue and her dancers, are seen musing over who they can enlist for their team next time.
    Ian told Bjorn: “It’s hard to find a knitting partner. Tom Jones knits. He knits Tom Jones merch whereas I like to restrict myself to Abba.
    “Does Madonna knit? I think she has people who knit for her. Adele has a few tricks which she does.”
    If anyone can needle her into joining, I’m sure it will be Ian. More

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    Are Fifth Harmony getting back together?

    FIFTH Harmony is remembered for their hit singles Work from Home and Worth It.After the group placed third during The X Factor’s second US season, Fifth Harmony was signed by Simon Cowell.
    Fifth Harmony, pictured from left to right: Lauren, Normani, Ally, Dinah Jane, and CamilaCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    Are Fifth Harmony getting back together?
    Since their breakup in 2018, millions of their fans, known as Harmonizers, have been begging for a reunion.
    While it may still be too soon to call it a comeback, Harmonizers might finally be a step closer to seeing all five members reunited.
    Members Ally Brooke and Dinah Jane announced on November 30, 2023, that they are releasing a Christmas single.
    In the announcement, posted to their social media pages, both ladies are shocked that they haven’t worked together in five years.

    Ally begins by telling Dinah, “I can’t believe it’s been five years.”
    Both girls also acknowledge the reaction from their fanbase.
    Ally says, “I’m so beyond pumped for the fans.”
    “I’m really excited for them because they deserve a little piece of a reunion,” agrees Dinah.
    Most read in Celebrity
    Previously, Ally revealed to Billboard that she was trying to get the band back together.
    She said, “I’m trying to reunite with them, so I think some sort of reunion may happen.”
    The collaboration, a cover of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, will be available for streaming on December 1, 2023.
    Why did Fifth Harmony break up?
    On March 19, 2018, Fifth Harmony took to Twitter to announce they were splitting up “in order to pursue solo endeavors.”
    The group tweeted: “We’ve had one hell of a memorable journey together and can’t begin to express our gratitude to y’all for coming along with us on this wild journey.
    “After six years going hard, nonstop, we realize that in order to stay authentic to ourselves and you.
    “We need to take some time, for now, to go on a hiatus from Fifth Harmony in order to pursue sole endeavors.
    “We are all very excited and grateful to be able to take this time to learn and grow creatively and really find our footing as individuals.
    “In doing this, we are allowing ourselves to gain new experiences, strengths, and perspectives that we can bring back to our Fifth Harmony family.”
    The band further expressed: “To our Harmonizers, thank you for everything we have been able to build as Fifth Harmony.
    “With your love and encouragement, we will continue to build on ourselves, support one another in everything we do, and keep making you proud, each other proud, and ourselves proud.”
    With the departure of Camila Cabello (not pictured), Fifth Harmony became a quartetCredit: Getty – Contributor
    Who were the 5H members?
    Fifth Harmony consisted of Normani Kordei, Camila Cabello, Dinah Jane, Lauren Jauregui, and Ally Brooke.
    On July 27, 2012, 5H was formed by Simon Cowell and the other X Factor season 2 panelists.
    Originally, the five singers auditioned for the show solo but were brought back as a group by the judges.
    Read More on The Sun
    Initially, 5H went by the name Lylas; which was an acronym for Love You Like A Sister.
    However, their name was changed after it was revealed Bruno Mars’ four sisters already formed a group called The Lylas. More

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    ‘Fairytale’ brought world to tears but there was much more to wild poet Shane MacGowan than his Christmas masterpiece

    SHANE MACGOWAN was a punk with the soul of a poet, who fired up Irish music with manic London energy and gave Britain our most beloved Christmas song.The former Pogues frontman, who has died aged 65, once said his themes were: “God. The Devil. Drink. Life. Death. How funny it all is, and how sad.”
    The Pogues’ Shane MacGowan has diedCredit: Rex
    He had an eight-year battle with illness
    Shane was born to Irish parents in Kent in 1957Credit: Splash
    In Fairytale of New York Shane and Kirsty MacColl gave Britain its most beloved Christmas song
    Singers Kirsty and Shane in 1987Credit: Getty – Contributor
    His 1987 masterpiece Fairytale of New York embraced all those subjects at once.
    A track about that seems to be about drunks slinging insults at each other, with the least festive lyrics in history (“You scumbag, you maggot”) somehow resolves itself into a Christmas love song that still makes people cry.
    It has rocketed back into the Top 20 every December since 2005, and in 2012 was voted the nation’s favourite Christmas song of all time.
    Meanwhile, Shane became one of our favourite characters.
    His teeth, which his dentist once described as “the stuff of legends”,  became a national obsession.
    When he finally got them fixed in 2015 they were the subject of an entire documentary on Sky Arts.
    Then there was his laugh, likened to “the flush of a portable toilet”.
    Most of all, there was his incredible ability to stay alive, despite the obvious ravages of his alcohol and drugs, including heroin.
    Most read in Showbiz
    His imminent death was first reported back in 1988, when he was 31.
    Once, in front of his landlady, he was so high on acid he started eating a copy of The Beach Boys’ greatest hits album.
    On another occasion he told a young Kylie Minogue: “F*** off!”.
    He was wild, but somehow never frightening – there was always a vulnerability.
    And of course there were also those songs, of love, exile and yearning, like A Rainy Night In Soho or A Pair of Brown Eyes.
    There were also those of protest, like Streets of Sorrow/Birmingham Six.
    Few songwriters of either rock or traditional Irish ballads have ever managed to merge so beautifully literature and music, the two great strands of Irish identity.
    And that was Shane’s identity, although he was born and raised in England.
    His heart was in his parents’ homeland, and in his London accent often insisted: “I’m completely Irish.”
    Ireland loved him too: there he was hailed as a literary giant as well as a musical one.
    Shane usually reacted in self-defence to this praise: “I just feel awkward and embarrassed, so I have a drink.”
    Shane Patrick Lysaght MacGowan was born on Christmas Day 1957 in the village of Pembury, Kent.
    His parents had only recently emigrated, after his Dubliner father Maurice landed a management job at clothing chain C&A.
    His mother Therese grew up in a remote part of Tipperary, in a farmhouse where singing and dancing sessions often went on for entire weekends.  
    Young Shane spent all his holidays there:  “I did my first gig when I was three, on the kitchen table.”
    His parents were also big readers, and he read whatever they were reading: by 12, he had polished off James Joyce’s heavyweight Ulysses.
    Teachers at his posh prep school near Tunbridge Wells, Kent, were wowed by his own writing. His English teacher called him “brilliant”.
    Then aged 13 he won a scholarship to the even posher Westminster School in London, when his family moved to a flat in the city’s new Barbican complex.
    Shane later claimed the headmaster was “on my back from the start because I was Irish.”
    After just a year, the long-haired teen was expelled for his part in a school drug-buying ring.

    It comes as…

    And he began to spend more and more time drifting around Soho’s “pimps, whores and junkies”.
    In a 2020 documentary he revealed to long-time friend, Hollywood star Johnny Depp, that he even earned cash as a rent boy.
    But he added: “Just hand jobs. It was a job in hand.” Then came that laugh: “Hcccccch!”
    In 1975, when he was 17, his family committed him to London’s Bethlem psychiatric hospital for six months.
    After his release, the first gig he attended featured the Sex Pistols as a support act: “And that’s when I saw God.”
    He recalled years later: “The punk thing f***ing changed my life. It didn’t matter that I was ugly. Nothing mattered.”
    In October that year he had his first brush with notoriety when he was photographed at a punk show, one sticky-out ear gushing with blood where a fellow fan had bit it.
    The headline in music mag NME was: “Cannibalism at Clash gig”.
    He began calling himself Shane O’Hooligan and joined punk band The Nipple Erectors – later The Nips – as frontman in 1977.
    It fizzled out in 1980, but by the following year he had the idea that would change music and his life.
    He still loved the traditional Irish songs he had grown up with, and wondered what they would sound like if they were played with the energy of punk.
    He gathered a group of musician friends and tried it out.
    A friend said of their first gig in the spring of 1981: “You did know you were watching something extraordinary.”
    By the following year, the group had the name Pogue Mahone, from the Irish phrase “póg mo thóin”, meaning “kiss my arse”.
    But after they began to get radio play, a BBC Scotland producer alerted his bosses to the translation.
    So as Shane later explained: “We just changed to The Pogues and got on with it.”
    Shane as a toddler. He was born on Christmas Day, 1957 to Irish parents in Kent
    Shane started the Pogues in 1981Credit: Reuters
    Shane with singer Imelda MayCredit: Social Media Collect
    A young Shane back in March 1987
    When he finally got his teeth fixed in 2015 they were the subject of an entire documentary
    Shane was notorious for his heavy drinking
    Soon he was writing his own songs, to add to their repertoire of ballads and old rebel tunes.
    It was the height of the Troubles, with IRA bombs going off around England.
    Irish people in London, even second-generation ones, lived in an atmosphere of suspicion and abuse.
    Shane put their experience as “Paddys” into words.
    The band’s biggest success came in 1987, with Fairytale of New York.
    Shane co-wrote the music with the group’s banjo player Jem Finer, but the lyrics were his own.
    It took him two years to get them right, by which time bassist Cait O’Riordan, who he planned to sing the duet with, had left the band.
    So their new producer Steve Lillywhite suggested his wife, singer-songwriter Kirsty MacColl.
    Shane had already recorded his own part, so Kirsty recorded the female part at home.
    When Steve played him the result the next day, Shane said: “I have to sing the part again.”
    Kirsty had just taken the song into a different league, and he knew he had to try to reach her heights.
    By the end of the recording session Shane was lying in a pool of vomit on the studio floor, and The Pogues had a masterpiece.
    However, it only reached No2 in the UK, kept off 1987’s Christmas top spot by the Pet Shop Boys’ cover of Always On My Mind.
    Meanwhile Shane, 30, had fallen in love with Irish writer and journalist Victoria Mary Clarke, nine years his junior.
    Apart from a break of around seven years, they would be together for rest of his life. They finally married in November 2018.
    The break was caused by the drug use that spun out of control after the success of Fairytale of New York.
    She later said: “It was very scary. It was hell on earth.”
    He was also downing a bottle and a half of gin a day, and missing shows, wandering off halfway to hit the bar, or singing a different song to the rest of the band.
    Finally, during a tour of Japan in the summer of 1991, the other members sacked him.
    He retaliated with a new group in 1992, Shane MacGowan and the Popes.
    He also collaborated with other musicians including Sinéad O’Connor, who recorded single Haunted with him in 1995.
    She later recalled: “Shane was nodding out on smack in between the verses.”
    In November 1999 she ended up calling police on him: he went to rehab and managed to kick heroin by 2002.
    However, he remained a heavy drinker.
    The Pogues asked him to return to the band in 2001, and he stayed until the band’s break up in 2014.
    But he never again hit the song-writing heights of the group’s early years.
    And he was haunted by the horrific death of duet partner Kirsty MacColl, mowed down by a powerboat while swimming in December 2000, aged 41.
    He said of his best-loved song: “Basically I stopped singing it when Kirsty went.”
    Shane broke his pelvis in a 2015 fall in Dublin, where he and Victoria eventually moved.
    He was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life, and in December 2022 he was hospitalised with encephalitis, which causes swelling to the brain.
    By July 2023 he was still there, in intensive care.
    Shane, who never had children, once admitted: “I have lived a totally irresponsible existence.”
    Read More on The Sun
    But he also insisted: “I’m just following the Irish tradition of songwriting, the Irish way of life, the human way of life.
    “Cram as much pleasure into life, and rail against the pain you have to suffer as a result.”
    Shane McGowan was famous for his rotten teethCredit: Photocall Ireland
    Shane smoking cigarettes on Dublins South Quays in 2004Credit: Photocall Ireland More

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    Who was singer Kirsty MacColl and when did she die?

    KIRSTY MacColl collaborated with Shane McGowan and the Pogues on what is generally considered the greatest Christmas song of all time.Here we take a look at the singer’s life, music and tragic death.
    Kirsty MacColl duetted with Shane MacGowan on the Christmas classic Fairytale Of New YorkCredit: Redferns
    Who was singer Kirsty MacColl?
    Kirsty Anna MacColl was born in Croydon, South London, on October 10, 1959.
    She was the daughter of musical parents — her father Ewan MacColl was a folk singer, and her mother Jean Newlove a professional dancer.
    By the time Kirsty was born, her parents had split up, with Ewan going on to marry another folk singer Peggy Seeger.
    Kirsty married music producer Steve Lillywhite in 1984.
    The pair shared two children together, Jamie and Louis, but divorced in 1994..
    Kirsty sang on a number of tracks produced by Lillywhite while they were married, most notably the song she’s best known for — Fairytale Of New York.
    When did Kirsty MacColl die?
    Kirsty died in a scuba diving accident off the coast of Mexico in December 2000.
    A keen diver, MacColl brought her two sons on holiday for a well-needed break after a relentless 18 months of working.
    Most read in Music
    The family travelled to Cozumel and it’s said Kirsty planned on introducing her two boys to scuba diving for the first time there.
    While in the water, MacColl was tragically hit by a speedboat travelling illegally in an area designated for swimmers.
    A statement at the time confirmed neither of her sons were injured in the accident.
    In the statement, MacColl was described as a “bright, fun-loving person as well as a talented singer and writer who was loved by anybody and everybody she came into contact with”.
    Shortly after her death, her body was returned to the UK where she was cremated close to her home town of Croydon.
    At the time of her death, Kirsty was just 41 years old. 
    What songs is Kirsty MacColl famous for?
    Kirsty is best known for the ultimate Christmas song, Fairytale Of New York, on whic she duetted with none other than The Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan.
    But MacColl’s musical career began long before the song hit the airwaves in 1988.
    Over two decades and five albums, MacColl recorded over 160 songs, ultimately released in an eight-disc boxset by Universal in October 2023. 
    Among these tracks features A New England, a classic female rock song she recorded in her early twenties. 
    A New England peaked at No7 in the UK charts in 1985, with There’s A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis reaching No14 in 1981.
    She had another top twenty hit in 1989 with Days, which reached a high of No12.
    However, none of her other works reached the same status as the drunken duet, Fairytale Of New York.
    Strangely, when first released the hit song didn’t even make it to the Christmas number one slot, peaking at No2. 
    Recorded with The Pogues’ original bassist Cait O’Riordan, MacColl stepped in on vocals when O’Riordan left the band in 1986. 
    After test recording the vocals, it’s said the band fell in love with her voice and had to keep it on the track.
    When did Shane MacGowan die?
    Shane MacGowan tragically died on Thursday November 30, 2023.
    Shane passed away at the age of 65 following an eight year battle with encephalitis.
    Hs death occurred just a few days after he celebrated his fifth wedding anniversary.
    His wife Victoria shared a heartbreaking statement announcing the star’s death: “I don’t know how to say this so I am just going to say it.
    “Shane who will always be 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 has gone to be with Jesus and Mary and his beautiful mother Therese.
    “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.”
    She added: “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.
    “Thank you thank you thank you 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.
    “Rave on in the garden all wet with rain that you loved so much.
    Read More on The Sun
    “You meant the world to me.”
    Shane is survived by his wife, father Maurice and sister Siobhan. More

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    Who is Kane Brown’s wife, Katelyn?

    KANE Brown is known for his hit singles Used to Love You Sober and Be Like That.The country music star’s wife Katelyn Jae is also a singer whom he often credits for helping him navigate the industry.
    Similar to himself, Kane Brown’s wife Katelyn Jae is a singer and songwriter
    Who is Kane Brown’s wife Katelyn?
    Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on June 19, 1992, Katelyn Jae is a singer and songwriter.
    Katelyn is signed with Wright Entertainment Group and is managed by John Wright.
    A music management graduate of Berklee College, she revealed her early experiences in the industry inspired her to pursue the behind-the-scenes aspect of show business.
    When it comes to making career decisions, Katelyn often uses her business acumen to guide herself and her husband.

    “I told my mom, ‘I don’t want people to tell me what to do, and I don’t have the knowledge to back up my decision, or to argue what I feel is right.’ So I wanted to know the business side.” she told her college newspaper.
    “I feel like that’s the reason why I felt held back and things weren’t progressing.
    “I started realizing that the things I was learning in school were what he was dealing with in real life,” she continued.
    “So if Kane came home and he had a question I’d often be like, ‘You know, you don’t have to do that, right?’ They’re just telling you you have to do that. You’re the artist, and you can do whatever you want to do.”
    Most read in Celebrity
    How many children do Kane and Katelyn have?
    Kane and Katelyn have two children together. Their daughters are named Kingsley Rose and Kodi.
    Kane and Katelyn initially started dating in 2015 and subsequently tied the knot on October 12, 2018.
    They had their first child, Kingsley Rose, on October 29, 2019.
    Furthermore, they had their second child, Kodi, on December 30, 2021, in Nashville, Tennessee.
    In welcoming their second daughter, Kane wrote on Instagram: “New year, New family member ❤️ welcome to the family Kodi Jane 🥰 secrets finally out.”
    Katelyn also stated: “Blessed with another beautiful angel Kodi Jane Brown… we love you so much 💕.”
    Kane Brown and his wife Katelyn Jae have two children togetherCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    What is Kane Brown’s net worth?
    According to Celebrity Net Worth, Kane Brown’s net worth is estimated to be $6 million.
    Born on October 21, 1993, the hitmaker is from Chattanooga, Tennessee.
    He first gained attention in 2014 by covering songs by famous singers like Alan Jackson and Billy Currington online.
    His celebrity grew in 2015 when he released two songs, Closer, and Used to Love You Sober, in June and October respectively.
    Read More on The Sun
    Kane has released three studio albums and won several awards.
    In 2021, he became the first Black person to win Video of the Year at the ACM Awards. More

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    Iconic eighties band reunite for huge London festival with US stars and Paloma Faith

    A HIT eighties pop-rock band have reunited for an epic comeback gig.The Scottish stars, famed for tracks including 1987 debut single Dignity, will take to the stage in the stunning surroundings of Hampton Court Palace next June.
    The huge eighties band, Deacon Blue, are reuniting for the London festival next JuneCredit: Hampton Court Palace Festival
    Deacon Blue will delight fans with a setlist crammed full of tunes including Real Gone KidCredit: Hampton Court Palace Festival
    Nile Rogers and Chic will be kicking off the Hampton Court Palace FestivalCredit: Hampton Court Palace Festival
    Hit-makers Deacon Blue will delight fans with a setlist crammed full of tunes spanning their 35 years in the music business.
    This has included a whopping 16 top 40 hits including I’ll Never Fall In Love Again and Real Gone Kid.
    Ricky Ross, James Prime, Lorraine McIntosh, Dougie Vipond, Gregor Philp and Lewis Gordon currently make up the roster.
    Past members include Graeme Kelling, Ewen Vernal, Mick Slaven, Scott Fraser, Taj Wyzgowski, Ged Grimes and Chris Henderson.
    Despite going on hiatus in 1994, they reformed in 1999 and have been making music ever since.
    The group released their tenth studio album just last year, titled Riding On The Tide of Love, and recently performed at BBC Radio 2 In The Park.
    They will perform on June 19, 2024, with their spot on a stellar concert series lineup.
    This also includes Paloma Faith on June 20, as well as Eurovision superstar Sam Ryder on June 14.
    Most read in Music
    Before this, Nile Rogers and Chic will be taking the stage at the Hampton Court Palace Festival on June 13.
    Pre-sale begins at 10am on Friday 1 December 2023, while tickets are on general sale from 10am on Monday 4 December 2023.
    Previously, we reported how the band looked very different prior to their comeback.
    Meanwhile, the gig comes amid another legendary eighties rock band reunion for Death Cult, previously known as The Cult.
    In what seems a wave of recent reunions, another pop band, Talking Heads, made a rare appearance together nearly 20 years on from their bitter split.
    While rock icons Cutting Crew looked completely different decades on from finding fame and the tragic loss of band member, guitarist Kevin MacMichael.
    Eurovision favourite Sam Ryder will be hitting the stage on June 14thCredit: Hampton Court Palace Festival
    Paloma Faith is set to wrap up the event next JuneCredit: Hampton Court Palace Festival More