The world is flowing with Shane stories at the moment, unsurprisingly, because he was a profoundly social chap. Our musical careers ran parallel to each other and Helen and the Horns supported The Pogues at The Mean Fiddler in Harlesden one time. Rumour has it that Van Morrison was in attendance.
I used to go to the record shop that he worked in in Hanway Street in the West End of London and just chat. When the shop premises moved to London Bridge, I went there too. I used to get him to recommend records (the shops stocked lots of old-school rockabilly and hillbilly music), and I always walked out with a couple of great albums under my arm.
Years later, I was in The Boogaloo Bar in Highgate and he was standing at the bar. He recognised me immediately, and complimented me on my fluffy black jumper. I was taken aback (but very pleased) to be remembered, and felt very respected as a musician. Not all male musicians are like this, but he was. We talked about music, and then he disappeared into the bowels of the building; the owner was, apparently, his PO Box address.
It's a miracle that he lived as long as he did. He lived life more than to the full, always alongside large quantities of alcohol (as many people do). Not many people can be so creative with booze as their buddy. I understand that he let people down sometimes- his bands, especially.
Over my lifetime so far I have come to the conclusion that all musicians are mad. How we deal with this fact can be very taxing. The fact that we are able to collaborate with each other at all is a miracle that involves our madness synchronising temporarily. Sometimes, this creates wonderful musical outcomes, and Shane definitely had his share of these, in particular with Kirsty MaColl.
Our musical world gets smaller as the years progress. I still think we have been the luckiest people alive to have been born at that strange time that gave us a vacuum to fill in the late 1970s. It felt so depressing and awful- but look what came out of it!