- By Mark Savage
- BBC Music Correspondent
Pulp bassist Steve Mackey has died aged 56, his family has confirmed.
The Sheffield musician played on hits including Common People, Disco 2000 and Lipgloss, after joining Pulp in 1989.
His wife Katie posted a message on social media on Thursday saying he had been hospitalized for three months with an undisclosed illness.
“We are shocked and devastated to have said goodbye to my brilliant and beautiful husband,” she added.
“Steve was the most talented man I know, an exceptional musician, producer, photographer and filmmaker.
“As in life, he was adored by all those whose paths he crossed in the multiple creative disciplines he conquered.
“I would like to express my sincere thanks to all the NHS staff who worked tirelessly for Steve. He will be missed beyond words.”
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Pulp posted their own tribute shortly after, telling fans that their “beloved” bassist had passed away on Thursday morning.
They shared a photo of the musician from their 2012 tour, spending a day off in the snowy Andes.
“We had the day off and Steve suggested we go rock climbing,” the band said. “So we did and it was a completely magical experience.
“Much more magical than staring at the hotel wall all day (which we probably would have done otherwise).
“Steve has shaken things up, in his life and in the band. We’d love to think he’s back in those mountains now, for the next leg of his adventure.”
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Pulp is set to go on tour again this summer for a series of reunion shows.
Mackey opted out of the concerts, telling fans he had decided to focus on his “music, film and photography projects” instead.
Massive Attack, another British band that found success in the 1990s, paid tribute by sharing a black and white image of Mackey, while quoting a lyric from his band’s Sorted For E’s & Wizz track.
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The musician was born in Sheffield in 1966 and attended school with fellow Pulp alumnus Richard Hawley.
He joined the band in 1989 – a decade into their career – and first appeared on their third album Separations.
After signing with Island Records in the early 1990s, the band enjoyed great success with classic albums such as His ‘N’ Hers and Different Class, with frontman Jarvis Cocker becoming one of the band’s most beloved characters. Britpop era.
Speaking to the official Pulp website in 1996, Mackey said he enjoyed the rollercoaster of fame.
“I think if you’re in a band that’s popular, you might as well enjoy it.” he said.
“That’s what we’ve always wanted to do and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being stupid. You’d be wasting a golden opportunity – you might as well be a librarian all your life.”
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After the group went on hiatus in 2002, Mackey co-wrote and produced songs for artists including MIA (Galang, Sunshowers), Florence + The Machine (Kiss With A Fist), and Arcade Fire (Everything Now).
He also had a cameo appearance in the 2005 film Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, as one of the Weird Sisters – a rock band which also included Jarvis Cocker and Radiohead musicians Jonny Greenwood and Phil Selway.
The band are due to play a series of festivals in the summer of 2023, including on the Isle of Wight, Latitude and Trnsmt.
He has also photographed and produced campaign images and animated advertisements for many major brands, including Miu Miu, Marc Jacobs and Armani.
Advertising and art fairs
Mackey teamed up with Pulp again for their 2012 reunion; and also co-hosted London’s Frieze Art Fair for several years in the 2000s.
He married stylist and magazine founder Katie Grand in 2009. Mackey also leaves a son, Marley, born in 1996.