Mark Stewart has died at the age of 62.
The band confirmed that The Pop Group frontman had died today in the early hours (April 21) on their official social media accounts. No cause of death has been confirmed.
“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,” the statement began.
“Mark’s family and friends respectfully ask to be given space at this difficult time.”
MARK STEWART – 10/8/60 – 21/4/23
Mark Stewart passed away in early hours of Friday 21 April 2023
Mark’s family and friends respectfully ask to be given space at this difficult time. pic.twitter.com/L3FvG2W6kX
— mark stewart (@_markstewart) April 21, 2023
The band’s former label boss Daniel Miller contributed to the statement with a tribute to Stewart, in which he said: “I’ve known Mark as a friend and a fellow traveller for over 40 years, since he 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 acknowledged. He was always encouraging young artists, especially those local to him in Bristol – many have gone on to be 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 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 place.”
The band’s guitarist Gareth Sager added: “Mark was the most amazing mind of my generation, RIP,” while record producer Adrian Sherwood said: “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.”
Stewart founded The Pop Group as a teenager in Bristol in 1977 along with Sager, John Waddington, Simon Underwood, and Bruce Smith. The politically oriented band blended post-punk with dub and reggae and released two albums, 1979’s ‘Y’ and 1980’s ‘For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?’. The group disbanded in 1980 with a final performance at rally for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), a campaign Stewart continued to be heavily involved with.
They later reformed in 2010 and released two further albums, 2015’s ‘Citizen Zombie’ and 2016’s ‘Honeymoon On Mars’. Stewart’s last performance with the band was in the ruins of Coventry Cathedral to celebrate City of Culture 2021, at the invitation of the late Terry Hall.
Tributes have been paid to Stewart from across the music world. Cosey Fanni Tutti said she was “shocked and so very sad” to hear of his death, while Sleaford Mods said he was “proper” and “didn’t care for the dogshit”.
So shocked and so very sad to hear of @_markstewart passing. 🖤
— Cosey Fanni Tutti (@coseyfannitutti) April 21, 2023
Post punk pioneer
and original chief rocker.
RIP Mark Stewart
Bristol will never be the same.
— Massive Attack (@MassiveAttackUK) April 21, 2023
Incredibly sad to hear about the Passing of “The Godfather of Bristol” Mark Stewart x
Bristol would be a very different place artistically and politically if it not been for Marks influence on all of us
My deepest condolences go to his family and friends. X pic.twitter.com/NkIkOWOzlz
— 🏴☠️ Geoff Barrow 🏴☠️ (@jetfury) April 21, 2023
Very sad to hear the news of Mark Stewart passing away. We met him a few times in the early days. He was proper. He didn’t care for the dogshit. RIP ❤️
— Sleaford Mods (@sleafordmods) April 21, 2023
Deveststing news. Mark + Pop Group were touchstones for SY. Mark and I co-led a riotous group performance just a few months ago, in November 2022, in Brighton, UK. It was a magical, chaotic night. Another magical evening w Mark. Condolences to all his many friends and family.
— Sonic Youth (@thesonicyouth) April 21, 2023