Steve Mackey death: Pulp bassist dies aged 56

Steve Mackey, the bass player of Pulp, has died at the age of 56.

A cause of death has not yet been given, but Mackey’s wife, stylist Katie Grand, revealed he had recently been admitted to hospital.

She shared her “devastation” over his death in an Instagram post on Thursday 2 March, 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. Steve was the most talented man I have ever known, an exceptional musician, producer, photographer and filmmaker.”

She continued: “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 Sheffield band also shared an Instagram post announcing the news on Thursday. The post included a picture of Mackey walking through a mountainscape with his back to the camera.

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

“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).”

They continued: “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.”

It was announced in October that Mackey would not be joining this year’s Pulp reunion tour.

In a post shared to Instagram, the musician explained: “I’ve decided to continue the work I’m engaged in – music, filmmaking and photography projects, and will not be joining them for these UK shows just announced.

“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.”

(left-right) Nick Banks, Candida Doyle, Mark Webber, Steve Mackey and Jarvis Cocker of Pulp in 2017 (PA)
(left-right) Nick Banks, Candida Doyle, Mark Webber, Steve Mackey and Jarvis Cocker of Pulp in 2017 (PA)

Mackey joined the alternative rock band in 1989 and was a member alongside frontman Jarvis Cocker, and fellow musicians Russell Senior, Candida Doyle, Nick Banks and Mark Webber.

Pulp shot to prominence in the mid-1990s with the release of the albums His ‘n’ Hers in 1994 and Different Class in 1995, which reached No 1. The album spawned four top 10 singles, including “Common People” and “Sorted for E’s & Wizz”, and the band became reluctant figureheads of the Britpop movement.

Pulp headlined the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury twice and were regarded among the Britpop “big four”, along with Oasis, Blur and Suede.

In a 1996 interview for Rough Trade, Mackey talked about how he thought it was important to have fun if you’re a pop star. He said: “I think if you are in a band that are popular then you might as well enjoy it. That’s what we always wanted to do and I don’t think there is anything wrong with being silly.

“You’d be throwing away a bit of a golden opportunity – you might as well be a librarian all of your life.”

Also a producer, Mackey worked with acts such as The Kills and Cornershop.

He also co-wrote multiple songs on Florence + The Machine’s acclaimed debut album Lungs (2009).

In 2017, Pulp were awarded a special Ivor Novello award for Outstanding Song Collection.

Outside of music, Mackey made a cameo in 2005 as one of The Weird Sisters, a fictional rock band in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The group also featured Jonny Greenwood and Phil Selway of Radiohead and Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker.