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Steve Mackey, bass guitarist of Britpop band Pulp, dies aged 56

Frontman Jarvis Cocker confirmed the group’s reunion last year, though bassist Mackey was not due to appear at the upcoming shows.
Frontman Jarvis Cocker confirmed the group’s reunion last year, though bassist Mackey was not due to appear at the upcoming shows. Frontman Jarvis Cocker confirmed the group’s reunion last year, though bassist Mackey was not due to appear at the upcoming shows.

Steve Mackey, the bass guitarist of Britpop band Pulp, has died aged 56.

The group, who were known for their hits including Common People and Disco 2000, announced on their Instagram page that he died on Thursday after three months in hospital.

Alongside a photo of Mackey climbing in the Andes, the band wrote: “Our beloved friend & bass player Steve Mackey passed away this morning. Our thoughts are with his family & loved ones.

“This photo of Steve dates from when Pulp were on tour in South America in 2012. We had a day off & Steve suggested we go climbing in the Andes. So we did.

“And it was a completely magical experience. Far more magical than staring at the hotel room wall all day (which is probably what we’d have done otherwise).

“Steve made things happen. In his life and in the band. And 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. All our love xx”

His wife Katie also shared a message on his Instagram describing him as the “most talented man I knew, an exceptional musician, producer, photographer and filmmaker”.

Alongside a black-and-white photo of the bassist, she wrote: “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.

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

She also thanked the NHS staff who “worked tirelessly” with him over the last few months, adding: “He will be missed beyond words.”

Mackey studied at the Royal College of Art and later joined Pulp in 1989.

He played across many of the band’s most successful studio albums including 1994’s His ‘n’ Hers, which gained them prominence in the UK, and their chart-topping albums 1995’s Different Class and 1998’s This Is Hardcore.

The group’s best known line-up consisted of frontman Jarvis Cocker, Russell Senior, Candida Doyle, Nick Banks, Mark Webber and Mackey.

Steve Mackey death
Steve Mackey death Mackey studied at the Royal College of Art and later joined Pulp in 1989 (Yui Mok/PA)

In 2017, they were recognised with the Ivor Novello Award for outstanding song collection.

Last year, Cocker confirmed the group’s reunion, saying they will play “some concerts” in 2023, though bassist Mackey was not due to appear at the upcoming shows.

The group is scheduled to play a string of festivals in summer 2023, including Isle of Wight, Latitude and Trnsmt.

Outside of his work in Pulp, Mackey also produced and recorded with many artists including M.I.A, Florence + The Machine and Arcade Fire.

He also photographed and directed campaign images and motion advertising for many leading brands including Miu Miu, Marc Jacobs and Armani.

Mackey also featured in Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire as the bassist of The Weird Sisters.

Following the news, Massive Attack paid tribute to the bassist, quoting a lyric from the Britpop group’s 1995 song Sorted For E’s & Wizz and sharing a black and white photo of him smiling.

The trip hop group tweeted “And tell me when the spaceship lands ’cause all this has just got to mean something”, before adding a black heart.

Canadian rock band Arcade Fire also paid tribute with a post on the band’s official Instagram account.

Alongside a black and white image of Mackey, they wrote: “Steve you were one of the most beautiful people we’ve ever met, a true friend.

“Thank you for letting us spend time in your presence, and for believing in the spirit of music with such ferocity.

“Your influence as a person and a musician is part of us now. Luv AF.”