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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Emma Loffhagen

Who was Steve Mackey? Pulp bassist dies aged 56

Steve Mackey, the bassist for Pulp, has died aged 56, his family has confirmed.

Mackey’s wife, stylist Katie Grand, announced the news via social media on Thursday (March 2), saying Mackey had been in hospital for the past three months with an undisclosed illness.

"After three months in hospital, fighting with all his strength and determination, we are shocked and devastated to have said goodbye to my brilliant, beautiful husband," she said on Instagram.

“Steve died today, a loss which has left myself, his son Marley, parents Kath and Paul, sister Michelle and many friends all heartbroken,” she added.

“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.”

Mackey joined Sheffield band Pulp in 1989, a decade into his career, first contributing to their third studio album Separations.

After signing to Island Records in the early 1990s, the band found success with classic albums including His ‘N’ Hers and Different Class, and became some of the most recognised musicians of the Britpop era.

Pulp went on hiatus in 2002, but reunited for performances across the world in 2011 and 2012.

They are due to go back on tour this summer for a series of reunion shows.

Mackey’s music career with Pulp

Born in Sheffield, Mackey went to school with Pulp bandmate Richard Hawley.

Before joining Pulp, Mackey played in other local Sheffield bands, such as Trolley Dog Shag, who were later featured alongside Pulp on a compilation album in 1987.

After following Pulp and befriending frontman Jarvis Cocker, he was asked to join the band in 1989. The band’s first album with Mackey, Separations, led to them finding widespread success in the 1990s, and they soon signed to major record label Island Records.

The release of His ‘n’ Hers (1994) spawned further success, as did Different Class (1995) with its iconic single Common People.

The band became somewhat reluctant figureheads of the Britpop movement, and were nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 1994 for His ‘n’ Hers. They won the prize two years later for Different Class, and were nominated again in 1998 for This Is Hardcore.

After a nine-year hiatus, the band rejoined for a series of shows in 2011 and 2012.

Ten years later, Cocker announced that the band would reunite for a series of concerts in 2023.

Mackey revealed in October 2022 that he wouldn’t be joining the band on their tour, saying: “I’m exceptionally proud of the body of work we’ve created together... however I’ve decided to continue the work I’m engaged in – music, film-making and photography projects.”

He wished the band well and thanked the group’s “amazing fanbase”.

Production career and other projects

After Pulp’s hiatus in 2002, Mackey went on to co-write and produce songs for artists including MIA, Florence + The Machine, and Arcade Fire.

His production on MIA’s singles Galang and Sunshowers led to her securing a deal with Interscope Records.

During this time, he also continued to record and tour with Cocker, working with him on his debut solo album Jarvis, and on his second album Further Complications.

He later partnered with Daft Punk producer Thomas Bangalter to produce tracks on Arcade Fire’s album Everything Now, and worked with Spiritualized on 2018 album And Nothing Hurt.

Mackey also worked on high-profile art and fashion photography projects – from 2003 to 2008, he co-curated the music programme of London’s annual Frieze International Art Fair, and worked for clients including Miu Miu, Giorgio Armani, Moncler, and Saint Laurent.

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