Mark Stewart, frontman of the highly influential rock outfit the Pop Group, has died at age 62. Stewart’s death was confirmed by his label over the weekend; the singer has reportedly passed away in the early hours of Friday, 21st April. No cause of death was given.
“Mute is deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend, fellow agitator and creative force of nature, Mark Stewart,” the label wrote in a statement. “With such a unique interpretation on life, on everything, there really was no one like Mark Stewart. In honour of this original, fearless, sensitive, artistic and funny man, think for yourself and question everything!”
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“He questioned every single thing that was said,” the statement continued. “And in his political beliefs and in support of others, Mark was not just looking out for the underdog, he was intent that everyone got a voice, everyone got a chance. Oppression is the enemy.”
Stewart founded the Pop Group in 1977 in Bristol with friends John Waddington and Simon Underwood – Gareth Sager and Bruce Smith soon completed the lineup. The band were heavily influenced by punk but drew from a huge variety of influences, including dub, funk, and jazz. They became pioneers of the post-punk movement, and their album Y, released in 1979, is considered a classic of the genre.
The band disbanded in 1981 but reformed in 2010 and went on to tour semi-regularly – they released their first album in 35 years in 2015, called Citizen Zombie. Their last album was 2016’s Honeymoon on Mars.
Stewart would release numerous solo albums across his career – his most recent was the collaborative album Vs, in 2022. He was steadfastly political throughout his career, railing against the evils of capitalism, consumerism, and authoritarianism.