Pulp bassist Steve Mackey has died at age 56. The Britpop band’s singer, Jarvis Cocker, confirmed the news on Thursday (March 2), writing on Instagram, “Our beloved friend & bass player Steve Mackey passed away this morning. Our thoughts are with his family & loved ones.”
At press time there was no additional information on the cause of death or the illness that struck the musician who joined the group in 1989 and first apepared on their 1992 album Separations.
Mackey’s wife, stylist Katie Grand, announced the news on her Instagram page (which is private, but was reposted on Mackey’s page), writing, “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, 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.”
Grand called Mackey the “most talented man I have ever known,” as well as “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. The family has asked for privacy at this time.”
The “Common People” group first formed in 1978, fronted by bespectacled singer Cocker and released their debut album, It, in 1983, followed by 1987’s Freaks. Mackey joined in time to appear on 1992’s Separations, the precursor to the group’s 1994 breakthrough, His ‘n’ Hers, which crystallized the band’s slack disco rock sound delivered via louche anthems about sex, social class and a lust for life.
But it was 1995’s Different Class that proved to be their shot across the bow of the then burgeoning Britpop movement that also encompassed bands such as Oasis and Blur. The record debuted on the UK charts at No. 1, scored Pulp the coveted Mercury Music Prize and spun off what is the band’s best-known hit, “Common People.” Mackey also played on 1998’s This Is Hardcore and the group’s studio swan song, 2001’s We Love Life.
Pulp went on hiatus after Life‘s release until 2011, when they reunited for a run of festival gigs and a number of shows and appearances that lasted through early 2013, before once again going on hiatus. Last year, Cocker announced that the group would reunite again this year for more dates — which are slated to kick off on May 26 in Bridlington, UK — with Mackey announcing on Instagram in Oct. 2022 that he planned to continue working on other projects and not join the group on the road.
“Wishing Candy, Nick, Mark and Jarvis the very best with forthcoming performances in the UK and also an enormous thanks to Pulp’s amazing fanbase, many of whom have sent me lovely messages today,” he wrote at the time.
In his memorial post, Cocker included a picture of Mackey hiking in the snow-covered Andes mountains from a 2012 South American tour. “We had a day off & Steve suggested we go climbing in the Andes. So we did. & it was a completely magical experience,” Cocker wrote. “Far more magical than staring at the hotel room wall all day (which is probably what I’d have done otherwise). 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. “
See Grand and Cocker’s posts below.