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Mark Stewart Of The Pop Group Has Died, Aged 62
John Doran , April 21st, 2023 18:27

Stewart was known as one of the key countercultural figures of European post-punk, industrial funk and electronic dub

Influential post-punk musician Mark Stewart, famous for fronting The Pop Group and The Maffia, as well as a lengthy career working with the likes of the New Age Steppers, Tricky and Massive Attack, has died at the age of 62.

The news was confirmed today (April 21) via The Pop Group's Twitter account and by record label Mute. The official statement read: "Mark Stewart passed away in the early hours of Friday, 21 April, 2023. Mark is in communion with love. As Sufis say, there is no such thing as death, no one is going to die, but since death is so valuable, it has been hidden in the safe of fears. Mark's family and friends respectfully ask to be given space at this difficult time."

Former label boss and friend Daniel Miller of Mute said: "I've known Mark as a friend and a fellow traveller for over 40 years since her was the lead singer of The Pop Group. I have so many wonderful memories of him – some bizarre, some outrageous, but always inspiring and somehow for a reason.

"His musical influence has been much greater than is often acknowledged. He was always encouraging young artists, especially those local to him in Bristol – many have gone on to become global stars.

"His warmth and kindness as a friend has always been something very important to me. We had so many laughs together, and he had so much creative energy. The last time I. saw Mark was a few months ago in Bristol, performing an improvised set with Lee Ranaldo. He was nothing but hilarious, his piece was basically a stand-up routine, and after the show we spent many hours putting the world to rights, it's a wonderful memory, I will miss him greatly.

"Mark, I can't imagine you being anything other than restless but I hope you find your very special peace."

Stewart began his music career in 1977 as a founder of The Pop Group, the band whose political, avant-garde sound helped expand the punk music genre. They released two albums, 1977's Y and 1980's For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?, before disbanding in 1981 amid various internal disputes.

Stewart soon relocated to London to link up with On-U Sound label and studio founder Adrian Sherwood, going on to form The New Age Steppers and produce music that expanded on the mix of dub, punk and funk that The Pop Group had explored. He also linked up with Sherwood to release his first post-The Pop Group album, Learning To Cope With Cowardice, in 1983.

A number of solo albums followed in the subsequent decades, featuring a rotating cast of backing band members known as The Maffia. His most recent solo record, VS, was released in 2022. He also collaborated in various forms with the likes of Tricky, Massive Attack, Trent Reznor and Algiers over the course of his solo career.