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Pulp bassist Steve Mackey dead at 56

Mackey appeared on Britpop band's classic 1990s albums in addition to his own production and remix work

By Rolling Stone UK

Steve Mackey of Pulp
Steve Mackey of Pulp. (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Stuart Sevastos)

Steve Mackey, the longtime bassist for the Britpop band Pulp, has died at the age of 56.

Mackey’s wife, Katie, announced his death Thursday (2 March) on social media, writing that he died following a three-month hospitalisation. No cause of death was provided.

“After three months in hospital, fighting with all his strength and determination, we are shocked and devastated to have said goodbye my brilliant, beautiful husband, Steve Mackey,” Katie wrote.

“Steve was the most talented man I knew, 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.”

Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker wrote on Instagram: “Our beloved friend & bass player Steve Mackey passed away this morning… Steve made things happen. In his life & in the band. & we’d very much like to think that he’s back in those mountains now, on the next stage of his adventure. Safe travels, Steve. We hope to catch up with you one day.”

Pulp perform live in 2012 (Picture: Alamy)

Mackey joined Pulp in 1989 – nearly a decade into the band’s tenure – but served as bassist when the Cocker-led group exploded out of the Britpop scene in the 1990s, with Mackey appearing on the band’s landmark LPs, 1995’s Different Class (featuring the hit ‘Common People’) and 1998’s This is Hardcore.

While Pulp’s classic lineup would only release one more album, 2001’s We Love Life, before Cocker embarked on his solo career, Mackey would accompany Cocker in the studio for 2006’s Jarvis and 2009’s Further Complications. The band occasionally reunited onstage – Mackey included – over the next two decades.

However, when Pulp reformed for a series of shows in October 2022, Mackey announced he would not take part in order “to continue the work I’m engaged in – music, filmmaking and photography projects”.

In addition to his time with Pulp, Mackey was an in-demand remixer and producer who worked with the likes of M.I.A., Florence and the Machine and Arcade Fire, with Mackey serving as co-producer on the latter’s 2017 LP Everything Now.

The bassist was also a member of the one-off Weird Sisters supergroup – alongside Cocker and Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood and Phil Selway – that appeared in the 2005 movie Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Article by Daniel Kreps first appeared in Rolling Stone