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Sadness as founding member and guitarist of the Pogues, Philip Chevron’s cancer spreads

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Philip Chevron

Some sad news has emerged from the Pogues. Guitarist and founding member Philip Chevron, 55, has been successfully battling head and neck cancer since 2007, but doctors have deemed his latest tumors inoperable on this second round. 

According to Hot Press magazine, a star-studded cast will gather to perform a selection of songs penned by Chevron and the bands he was part of.

Chevron joined the Pogues following the release of their 1984 debut album, becoming a full-time member in time for its follow-up, Rum, Sodomy and the Lash. He quit the band in 1994 to clean himself up after some substance abuse in this hard-living band, and returned to the ranks in 2001 for the reunion activity that the band has been involved in ever since.

"The head and neck cancer for which he received treatment in 2007 and a clean bill of health in April 2012 has in fact returned,” said the statement.

“In August 2012, Philip and his doctors noticed a new tumor, and this one is in a position whereby treatment is seriously ill-advised and would almost certainly cause a stroke or worse. The Pogues are on a prolonged time out, emerging only in support of matters relating to their 30th anniversary this year, while the Radiators from Space have formed a splinter group, the Trouble Pilgrims, in which Chevron plays no part.

“Philip thanks his friends, colleagues, family and management team for their enduring support and hopes to make some notable musical contributions before, as he puts it, the cancer becomes 'lethal.’"

Chevron is featured on two major 2012 releases, The Pogues In Paris and his other band the Radiators' Sound City Beat. According to reports, he just completed music commissions for the Old Vic Theatre in London and the Druid in Galway.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Chevron back in 2011 on the eve of the Pogues’ St. Patrick’s Day show at Terminal 5. He was the consummate English gentleman. I remember asking him what it was like to play with the, ahem, inconsistent Shane MacGowan during the past three decades and he said, “You just do the best job you can. You’d like to hope people spend more time about the music than looking at how much is in Shane’s glass onstage.

“The band is tight because of how unpredictable he can be. Because he was so unreliable back in the eighties it forced us to work harder. Delivering each show by the seat of our pants was great training on the band, even though it wasn’t the best circumstances. You are dealing with forces not always in your control and you can choose to let it upset you or not.”

That last sentence has particular resonance, given the unfortunate road Chevron finds himself on.

Celebrating his wonderful contribution to the world of music at the forthcoming testimonial will be a mixture of colleagues, friends and fans, including MacGowan, Mary Coughlan, Paul Brady, actor Aidan Gillen, author Joseph O'Connor, the Radiators From Space, Terry Woods of the Pogues and many more.

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