The Pop Group’s Mark Stewart Dies at 62

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Mark Stewart, the vocalist and one of the founding members of the pioneering UK post-punk band the Pop Group, has died, according to a statement from his longtime label, Mute Records. No cause of death was given. Stewart was 62 years old.

Stewart formed the Pop Group in Bristol, England, in 1977 as a teenager, performing as the band’s vocalist alongside guitarist John Waddington, bassist Simon Underwood, guitarist and saxophonist Gareth Sager, and drummer Bruce Smith. Inspired by genres including dub, proto-punk, and funk, they infused their experimental rock music with sharp anti-establishment politics on their influential debut album, Y, produced by reggae artist Dennis Bovell and released the same year they formed the band.

The Pop Group went on to sign with Rough Trade, which issued the band’s second album, For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder? Following the Pop Group’s disbandment in 1980, Stewart worked with dub producer Adrian Sherwood to craft the 1983 album Learning to Cope With Cowardice, among others. Over the years, Stewart continued to work as a musician, releasing several solo albums and collaborating with artists including Massive Attack, Tricky, Chicks on Speed, and Nine Inch Nails. He also had an active career as a conceptual artist.

In 2010, the Pop Group reformed for a concert tour, which led to two more albums from the band, 2015’s Citizen Zombie and 2017’s Honeymoon on Mars. Stewart’s last album was Vs, a collaborative project released last year.

In its statement, Mute Records wrote, “Knowing Mark, working with him, laughing with him and thinking with him was like nothing else. His hugely confident and dominating presence was coupled with a sensitive, warm, creative, curious, intelligent and hilarious nature—traits that were often hidden upon first meeting this towering tour de force—and as soon as that unmistakable twinkle in his eye appeared, there could be no doubt that he would be in your corner.”

Adrian Sherwood added, “Thank you my brother. You were the biggest musical influence in my life and our extended family will miss you so so much. Love forever.”

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