May 23, 2024

Mark Stewart passed away in early hours of Friday 21 April 2023

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Mark Stewart, a pioneering figure in post-punk and industrial hip-hop, passed away in the early hours of Friday, 21 April 2023. Born on 28 April 1960, Stewart was an English singer and founding member of The Pop Group.

Mute label boss Daniel Miller, a close friend of Stewart, shared his fond memories: “I’ve known Mark as a mate and fellow traveller for over 40 years since he was the lead singer of The Pop Group. I have countless brilliant memories of him – some odd, some outrageous, but always inspiring and somehow purposeful. His musical influence has been far greater than often recognised. He was always supportive of young artists, particularly those local to him in Bristol – many have gone on to become international stars. His warmth and kindness as a friend have always been incredibly important to me. We had so many laughs together, and he had such 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 short of hilarious, his piece essentially a stand-up routine, and after the show, we spent hours putting the world to rights, a fantastic memory. I’ll miss him dearly. Mark, I can’t imagine you being anything other than restless, but I hope you find your unique peace.”

Gareth Sager, founding member of The Pop Group adds: “Mark was the most brilliant mind of our generation, rest in peace.”

Adrian Sherwood, who collaborated with Stewart via his On-U Sound Records label, expressed his heartfelt appreciation: “Cheers, my brother. You were the most significant musical influence in my life, and our extended family will miss you dearly. Eternal love.”

Stewart formed The Pop Group in Bristol in 1977 as a teenager. Influenced by dub and reggae, driven by political conviction and sonic experimentation, the band released their debut album, “Y”, that same year – a defining album of its era. After The Pop Group disbanded following a final performance at a significant CND rally in 1980, Stewart continued working with CND and, inspired by the emerging hip-hop scene in New York, collaborated with dub pioneer Adrian Sherwood to create the 1983 album “Learning to Cope with Cowardice”. His solo discography continued with 1985’s “As the Veneer of Democracy Starts to Fade” and spanned the next two decades, culminating with 2012’s “The Politics of Envy”.

In 2010, The Pop Group reformed, driven by renewed political disillusionment, and delivered a series of incendiary live performances, recording two new studio albums. Their last performance with Stewart took place in the ruins of Coventry Cathedral, invited by Terry Hall for Coventry UK City of Culture 2021.

Stewart recorded for On-U Sound Records and Mute Records during his career. He leaves behind a unique and significant body of work, encompassing The Pop Group, his solo efforts, collaborations with artists such as Trent Reznor, Tricky, Massive Attack, Chicks on Speed, ADULT., and Primal Scream, and his conceptual art. Mark Stewart’s creative impact has been immense – as Nick Cave stated, he “changed everything” – and his influence will continue to resonate through the music, art, and political activism of generations of artists inspired by his creative work, energy, and spirit.

author avatar
Bernard - Side-Line Staff Chief editor
Bernard Van Isacker is the Chief Editor of Side-Line Magazine. With a career spanning more than two decades, Van Isacker has established himself as a respected figure in the darkwave scene.

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