Steve Mackey Passes Away After Long Illness

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Steve Mackey
Steve Mackey

During Pulp’s exceptional 1990s peak, attempting to upstage Jarvis Cocker was a foolish undertaking, but bassist Steve Mackey, who passed away at the age of 56 following a prolonged period of illness, came quite close. Mackey, an exemplar of self-contained cool and dance-influenced grooves, played a crucial role in defining the Pulp sound and look. While Cocker was the insinuating, finger-pointing extrovert on stage, Mackey, who was reserved and elegant, was an attraction in his own right. His basslines gave Pulp a disco undertow that set them apart from their indie peers.

After joining the band in 1989, the Sheffield group underwent a transformation. No longer struggling art-rockers, they became danceable art-poppers and found their own place as Britpop’s unconventional outliers.

Mackey’s description of their sound was, without much exaggeration, “Eastern European Balkans disco with acid house and Sheffield bleep music.”

During the mid-1990s when Pulp was making waves, some of their success could also be attributed to Steve Mackey’s expertise in managing the band’s visuals alongside Jarvis Cocker in the early years. As a graduate of the Royal College of Art in film, Mackey was in charge of overseeing graphics and video concepts with Cocker, who had studied film and video at Central Saint Martins in London.