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UK Producer Steve Brown, Dead at 65

Steve Brown, producer/engineer behind hits by Freddie Mercury, Wham, The Cult, Manic Street Preachers and more, has died following a fall in December.

Steve Brown

London, United Kingdom (January 4, 2021)—Noted producer Steve Brown, who guided hits by everyone from Freddie Mercury to The Cult, has died at the age of 65 due to a fall in December.

Brown got his start in the music business thanks to seizing an unexpected opportunity—accidentally meeting Elton John when the superstar pulled into the gas station where teenaged Brown was working at the time. A brief chat with the artist soon led to Brown becoming a drum tech for John, and in time, he moved on to become a tape op.

Working his way up the ladder as a recording engineer for acts like Wizzard, Brown’s first producer credit came from a co-production with Robert “Mutt” Lange of the Boomtown Rats’ 1977 eponymous debut album. Through the turn of the Eighties, however, he mostly stayed in the engineer’s seat, recording albums by Thin Lizzy (Suicide), Graham Parker and the Rumour (Live at Marble Arch), Oingo Boingo (Only A Lad), The Romantics and others, and also recorded various projects for the Sex Pistols, Steve Forbert, Joan Armatrading, Twiggy and others.

Pro Audio In Memoriam 2020

Brown increasingly worked as a producer in the Eighties and Nineties, guiding many fledgling U.K. acts to their first hits, such as (to name only a few) ABC with “Tears Are Not Enough;” George Michael, with Wham’s first album, Fantastic; The Cult’s breakthrough collection, Love, highlighted by the Goth rock staple, “She Sells Sanctuary;” The Godfathers’ nihilistic classic “Birth School Work Death;” and The Manic Street Preachers’ debut album, Generation Terrorists, from which five tracks became UK Top-40 hits.

Over the course of his career, Brown also worked with Alison Moyet, The Alarm, Boom Crash Opera, Haysi Fantayzee, Balaam and the Angel, Nuclear Valdez and the Pogues, and additionally remixed a pair of Freddy Mercury tracks for the singer’s posthumous The Great Pretender collection.

In a statement to NME, Brown’s family noted, “Steve’s death came so unexpectedly and at a relatively young age. It was particularly tragic because Steve had many great projects in the pipeline including The Drive Foundation. The Drive Foundation is about promoting mental health, and Steve was the founding member. He is survived by his wife of 36 years, Jacky and their two children, Max and Luke. He will be missed by the music industry, friends and family alike.”

Steve Brown •