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Shane MacGowan gets new teeth for Christmas


BITE ME: Singer Shane Mac Gowan

BITE ME: Singer Shane Mac Gowan

BITE ME: Singer Shane Mac Gowan

In terms of procedures "it's as big as it gets", admits Darragh Mulrooney, the dental surgeon who has restored teeth to Shane MacGowan's famously ravaged mouth.

For years, MacGowan's mouth was a monument to rock'n'roll excess; a frightening cavity hollowed out by misbehaviour. An American record company was so worried that it airbrushed teeth onto a photo of the Pogues that appeared on their first album. MacGowan's last two teeth handed in their notice in 2008 and the maverick - who co-wrote the Christmas anthem Fairytale of New York - was left with an empty mouth and a lisp. He got a set of dentures in 2009, but the effect was, he says, bizarre.

"I couldn't abide them. It was a botch job."

Two years ago, his partner, Victoria Clarke, made an appeal on social media. MacGowan wanted new teeth, she wrote, because he wanted an acting career in Hollywood.

It remains to be seen if the 57-year-old will forge a career on the silver screen. But thanks to Dr Mulrooney he has a full set of teeth for the first time in decades.

"Shane recorded most of his great works when he had some teeth to work with," Dr Mulrooney says. "The question on everyone's lips is how it will affect his voice. The tongue is a finely attuned muscle and it makes precise movements. We've effectively retuned his instrument."

MacGowan's new teeth make at least one concession to his reputation. A single gold tooth was added to his smile at the singer's request. Asked what he thinks, MacGowan, a man of few words, says: "I'm getting used to them... it's good to have teeth again. I feel better about the way I look."

Is it true he did some of the damage by biting into a vinyl copy of The Beach Boys Greatest Hits, Volume 3?

"Yeah, I was out of my head," he says. "I thought I was conducting talks with the Americans after the third world war. I said: 'This is what I think of American culture', and took a bite out of it. And it's a good record, actually."

'Shane MacGowan: A Wreck Reborn' airs at 10pm tonight on Sky Arts

Sunday Independent