Steve Mackey, Pulp Bassist and Producer, Dies at 56

Steve Mackey, producer and longtime bassist of legendary Britpop group Pulp, has died. In a post on the musician’s Instagram account, Mackey’s wife wrote that her husband died today (March 2) “after three months in hospital” for an undisclosed illness. Pulp also shared a statement, writing: “Our beloved friend and bass player Steve Mackey passed away this morning.” The statement continued, “our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.” Find both posts below. Mackey was 56 years old.

Mackey grew up in Sheffield, the northern English city where Pulp formed in the late 1970s. After being a fan for several years, he joined the band in 1989 and contributed to their third LP, 1991’s Separations. Mackey played on every subsequent Pulp record, including the influential trio of His ’n’ Hers (1994), Different Class (1995), and This Is Hardcore (1998). Different Class, a modern classic and defining Britpop document, includes their biggest song, the class-conscious disco hit “Common People.” Pulp issued their final studio album, We Love Life, in 2001.

After Pulp went on hiatus in 2002, Mackey expanded his repertoire and began a fruitful producing career. He worked on early M.I.A. singles like “Galang” and “Sunshowers,” as well as “Bird Flu” from her 2007 breakout album, Kala. Mackey also produced for artists such as Kelis, the Kills, Arcade Fire, and Florence and the Machine (he co-wrote tracks for the latter’s debut album, Lungs).

In 2011, Pulp briefly reformed for a world tour and, two years later, rerecorded an old demo titled “After You,” their latest release to date. Last year, the group announced they would play a slate of reunion gigs in 2023 (the first of which occurred in October). Mackey wished them well but said he would not join them, writing on Instagram, “I’ve decided to continue the work I’m engaged in—music, filmmaking, and photography projects.”

In her announcement of his death, Mackey’s wife, stylist Katie Grand, wrote of her husband:

Steve was the most talented man I have ever known, an exceptional musician, producer, photographer and filmmaker. As in life, he was adored by everyone whose paths he crossed in the multiple creative disciplines he conquered. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all the NHS staff who worked tirelessly for Steve. He will be missed beyond words. The family has asked for privacy at this time.

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