Bristol musician Mark Stewart has died.
Numerous sources have confirmed the passing of the musician, who was 62 years old.
Mark Stewart formed The Pop Group in 1977, taking the energy of punk and blending it with his passion for jazz-funk and dub. Brought up in Bristol, he absorbed sound system culture into his creative methodology, adding some Beefheart-ian broth in the process.
A stunning, open-ended sonic feat, The Pop Group released two seminal albums – ‘Y’ and ‘For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder’ – before disintegrating. Mark Stewart immersed himself in London’s DIY communities, working with New Age Steppers – whose number included members of the Slits, and others – while also focussing on his solo career.
Darting between art-rock and dub, he worked with On-U Sound vocalising some titanic records alongside producer Adrian Sherwood.
2012 record ‘The Politics Of Envy’ brought a late career renaissance, and Clash caught a memorable show from Mark Stewart at London’s Scala venue the same year – Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie emerged for the encore.
Working to the end, Mark Stewart’s latest album ‘Vs’ was released in 2022.
Clash spoke to Mark Stewart in 2012 for our Write On column, and found someone who experienced complete joy from the creative act.
It’s been my amazing good fortune through life to hang out with some amazing people big and small. From taking high tea with Sun Ra to debating ‘the apocalypse’ with Allen Ginsberg, and for this hors d’oeuvres I have assembled a fascinating freak circus with me cast as ringmaster/master of ceremonies – at times I felt like I was directing The Wizard Of Oz on mescaline, like those idiot savants who absorb whole pieces of music on a single hearing, composers who hallucinate entire compositions, psychics who take dictation from long dead writers, or victims of brain damage who can move only when they hear music.
Rest in power.
This is breaking news, and will be updated as the story develops.