The Pogues manager Frank Murray died on Thursday (Dec. 22) of a suspected heart attack. He was 66.
Murray began working with the legendary Celtic punk band in the mid-1980s after seeing them play at the Hope & Anchor in London at the urging of late guitarist Phil Chevron, who joined the band soon after. He had previously been the tour manager for Thin Lizzy, Elton John and The Specials.
“It does really feel like the end of something,” The Pogues’ tin whistle player and vocalist Spider Stacy told Billboard. “I’m very sorry to see him go. He was brilliant really. I loved him deeply.”
Murray worked with The Pogues’ until 1990, said Stacy, and is widely credited for helping put together the band’s classic Christmas ballad “Fairytale of New York.” As Stacy recalled, Murray had brought in The Band‘s “Christmas Must Be Tonight” and suggested they cover it. But the idea was met with disinterest, so he challenged singer Shane MacGowan to write a better holiday song — and most would agree he did just that. Murray had also worked with the late Kirsty MacColl and helped bring her to record the duet.
Stacy described Murray as an “old school” ’70s rocker as well as a “a total Dubliner,” saying his Irish upbringing was essential to his relationship with The Pogues.
“Being Irish, he totally understood what the band was about and what it was really Shane was doing,” said Stacy. “I think he really got the importance of the band in regard to Ireland and what Shane was doing with Irish music.”
Murray had undergone heart surgery years ago, but when Stacy saw him in Austin, Texas, earlier this year he said he was in good health. As such, the news of his passing comes as a great surprise. Said Stacy, “Bang, there you go.”