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Steve Mackey, Alternative Rock Producer/Bassist, Dead at 56

Producer Steve Mackey has died at the age of 56, ending a career that saw him play bass in Pulp and produce top alt-rock acts.

Steve Mackey in a still from the promo video for “Mis-Shapes” from 1995’s Different Class. Photo: Island Records.
Steve Mackey in a still from the “Mis-Shapes” promo video from 1995’s Different Class. Photo: Island Records.

New York, NY (March 2, 2023)—U.K. alternative rock producer Steve Mackey has died at the age of 56. After first breaking into the music business as the bassist for Nineties Britpop cornerstone Pulp, Mackey went on to carve out an impressive second act as a producer and songwriter, working with the likes of Florence + the Machine, Arcade Fire, Spiritualized, Willy Moon, M.I.A., The Pastels and Marianne Faithful, among many others. His passing was announced on his Instagram account by his wife, Katie Grand, who noted he had been in the hospital for three months with an undisclosed illness.

Born November 10, 1966, in Sheffield, Mackey started out playing in garage bands and following Pulp from a distance as the local indie heroes recorded two albums to some notice in the mid-80s. Asked to join the group in 1989, he obliged and soon Pulp’s third album, 1991’s Separations, did well enough that the act was scooped up by Island Records, paving the way for its career highpoint across three well-received albums—1994’s His’n’Hers; 1995’s Different Class, which spawned the hit single “Common People” and won the 1996 Mercury Music Prize; and 1998’s This Is Hardcore. The group disbanded following its last album, We Love Life, in 2001, but reunited multiple times over the years.

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While Mackey became increasingly involved in the group’s sound during his tenure, post-Pulp, he moved into production for others, co-writing and producing tracks for Florence + the Machine on that group’s first album, 2009’s Lungs, as well as producing Arcade Fire’s 2017 collection, Everything Now and Spiritualized’s 2018 effort, And Nothing Hurt. Outside of the recording industry, his production work could be found in museums, too, as he created installation sound designs at The Louvre in Paris, MOMA in New York and the Minsheng Art Museum in Shanghai.

When Pulp announced last fall that it would reunite for a summer 2023 tour, Mackey bowed out, wishing his bandmates well (he had worked repeatedly with frontman Jarvis Cocker in the intervening years since the band’s initial end). Mackey leaves behind his wife, stylist/journalist Katie Grand; son Marley; parents Katherine and Paul Mackey; and sister Michelle.