Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Philip Chevron:1957 - 2013 - A tribute

After the band announced an upcoming box set and a short tour later this year, I had been thinking about The Pogues over the last few days, and featured the glorious 'A Pair Of Brown Eyes' as one of last week's daily 'Rewind' tracks. In particular I've been thinking about the group's guitarist Philip Chevron who has been fighting cancer since 2007 and who recently confirmed that his illness was terminal. A short while ago I learned that Phil had passed away yesterday morning at the age of 56, a very sad loss indeed to the world of music as well as to his friends and family.

The band announced "After a long illness we are sorry to inform you that Philip passed away peacefully this morning and we all send our sincere condolences to his family."

Regarded as one of the most influential figures in Irish punk music, Chevron hailed from Dublin and founded the critically acclaimed Radiators From Space in 1976, a band who released two albums before (temporarily) disbanding in 1981. By this point Chevron had befriended Shane MacGowan, frontman of The Nips (or The Nipple Erectors) who would soon go on to become part of The Pogues. Chevron joined the group in 1985 for the release of their classic 'The Rum, Sodomy And The Lash' LP, also playing the banjo and mandolin on particular recordings.Proving himself as a brilliant songwriter he also penned a number of the band's songs including the magnificent 'Thousands Are Sailing', released in 1988 and featuring on the band's third album 'If I Should Fall From Grace With God'. The band fell into disarray in the early 90's, as MacGowan was sacked from the group in 1991, with Joe Strummer joining as frontman for a while. Following health issues and problems with drugs and alcohol, Chevron left the band in 1994.


But luckily the story didn't there. In 2001, The Pogues reformed with their classic line-up and went back out on the road, playing their magnificent back catalogue to crowds all over the world. Enjoying being on the stage and making music, Chevron also revived The Radiators From Space (as The Radiators Plan 9) after a successful reunion show in 2003, the band releasing their long-overdue third album 'Trouble Pilgrim' in 2006. With the ever-reclusive MacGowan not willing (or perhaps not able) to face the public, Chevron took the role of The Pogues' unofficial spokesperson and resident expert MacGowan's activities, frequently visiting online forums and directly answering questions from fans. In 2004, he personally oversaw the remastering and re-release of The Pogues' entire back catalogue on CD.

In June 2007 it was announced that Chevron had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer, which he had recovered from by 2009 after a course of chemotherapy. However in May 2013 Chevron announced that the cancer had returned and it was "lethal". His final appearance took place less than a couple of months ago in August at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin, for a testimonial gig. Using the time-honoured football tradition of giving a departing player a send-off with a testimonial, many of Chevron's friends and colleagues came together for a special tribute concert, featuring Shane MacGowan, Roddy Doyle and many others.

His death comes as very sad news. Despite the band being on their last legs at the time, I discovered The Pogues in the mid 1990's, and they quickly became a huge part of my musical life. None of it would have been the same without Philip Chevron. 

Goodbye Phil, and cheers for the music you left behind.



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