English musician and music producer Steve Mackey, best known as the bassist for Pulp, has died at 56 from an undisclosed illness. The news was shared from the seminal Britpop band’s Instagram account with the caption, “Safe travels, Steve. We hope to catch up with you one day.”
“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,” his wife Katie Grand shares in a statement. “Steve died today, a loss which has left myself, his son Marley, parents Kath and Paul, sister Michelle and many friends all heartbroken. 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 rose to fame as part of the ’90s rock subset known as Britpop, alongside acts like Blur, Oasis, Lush, Suede, and Elastica. Mackey joined in 1989 ahead of the band’s third album Separations, eventually released in 1992.
“His recruitment had occurred across a supermarket car park when he was pushing a trolley,” violinist Russell Senior recalls in his 2015 memoir Freak Out The Squares. “We didn’t really know him but he was in a band called Trolley Dog Shag and I shouted oafishly, ‘Where’s the dog, mate?’ He smiled and we asked him if he could play bass.”
Known for its ’70s-inspired style and pointed social commentary, Pulp made its mark on the era with the 1995 album Different Class, featuring the hit songs “Common People” and “Sorted For E’s & Wizz.” Following the release of the band’s final album We Love Life in 2001, Mackey remained a close collaborator with singer Jarvis Cocker. The two made cameo appearances alongside Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood and Phil Selway in Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, and Mackey worked on Cocker’s solo albums Jarvis and Further Complications. As a producer, he also hit the studio with artists including M.I.A., the Long Blondes, and Florence + the Machine.
Pulp reunited for a number of live shows between 2011 and 2013, and their final performance in their hometown Sheffield was chronicled in the 2014 documentary Pulp: A Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets. The band announced another reunion tour for this summer, but Mackey had already confirmed that he would not be participating in October 2022, citing prior commitments to “music, filmmaking and photography projects.”