Obits — April 22, 2023 at 10:55 am

Mark Stewart, frontman of post-punk mavericks The Pop Group, dies at age 62

Mark Stewart of The Pop Group | Photo via Mute Records

Mark Stewart, the musical agitator and yelping frontman of the wildly innovative, dub-infused post-punk act The Pop Group, died this week at the age of 62, Mute Records announced on Friday.

The label didn’t offer a cause of death, but said Stewart “passed away in early hours of Friday 21 April 2023,” adding, “Mark’s family and friends respectfully ask to be given space at this difficult time.”

Stewart was hailed for his unabashed political stances, wildly innovative musical fusions of dub, jazz, post-punk and hip-hop, and helping elevate the musical profile of his native Bristol, U.K.

He was particularly influential among that city’s trip-hop scene, which spawned Massive Attack and Portishead. The latter’s Geoff Barrow remembered Stewart as “a great joke teller, agitator and modern day pirate,” adding, “I really do hope someone paints him on a wall as he’s a true Bristol legend.”

Adrian Sherwood, the renowned dub producer and founder of On-U Sound Records, called Stewart “the biggest musical influence in my life.” Massive Attack labeled him a “post-punk pioneer and original chief rocker.”



Stewart formed The Pop Group in Bristol in 1977 with schoolmates John Waddington and Simon Underwood, later adding Gareth Sager and Bruce Smith. They set out to start a funk group, they took inspiration in punk but found it too constrictive; instead they pulled from free jazz, dub and avante garde sounds.

The band’s wild debut single “She Is Beyond Good and Evil” came out in March 1979 and the band’s debut Y followed a month later. The Pop Group released a second album — the pointedly titled For How Much Longer Do we Tolerate Mass Murder? — in 1980, but split the following year.

Stewart continued to make music through the ’80s and ’90s, releasing a number of solo albums and collaborating with other artists. The Pop Group reunited in 2010 for a tour, and continued to work together on new music, releasing a third album, Citizen Zombie in 2015, and a fourth, Honeymoon on Mars, in 2016.

“His musical influence has been much greater than is often acknowledged,” Mute Records’ Daniel Miller wrote.

Below, see remembrances of Stewart from members of Cocteau Twins, A Certain Ratio, Living Colour and more.













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