Phil Chevron, singer, songwriter and guitarist for the Irish band The Pogues, died Tuesday at age 56, the band's website reports.
"After a long illness Philip passed away peacefully this morning," the band wrote. "We all send our sincere condolences to his family."
Chevron, whose real name was Philip Ryan, was born and raised in Dublin and joined The Radiators from Space, considered to be Ireland's first-ever punk band, in the 1970s. He joined The Pogues in the mid-1980s on what was meant to be a fill-in basis, playing the banjo, an instrument he'd never before taken up. His addition turned permanent and he switched to guitar because, according to the band's site, frontman Shane MacGowan "didn't want to play guitar anymore."
Chevron was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2007, though it was announced in 2009 that he had recovered. He spoke out in praise of Britain's National Health Service, which provided his cancer treatment. "They saved my life twice, why wouldn't I?" he told Kansas City alternative newspaper The Pitch.
Chevron told The Pitch that The Pogues' success was related to their originality. "I suppose what it is, is that we're not part of any genre except for one that we ourselves invented by accident," he said. "So, you know, we're not like anything else except what came after us. There are bands that sound a bit like us who are inspired by or influenced by what we did [...]. When you go and see Duran Duran or somebody, you can't escape the fact that it's a heavily limited, compressed sound they have that was invented in recording studios in the early 1980s. In contrast, what we did was just that we got Elvis Costello to record us pretty much au naturel. So it wasn't that sense that we belonged to a decade, because we were already, in one sense, old fashioned when we started."