Do You Remember The First Time?

Mackey (centre) with the band on Italian tv in the mid nineties.

“I knew Jarvis a bit because me and a friend of mine, Ian (we were in a band together) used to get stoned every Friday night and we’d try to find Jarvis. We were only about twenty and he used to tell us stories – him and Russell used to have this vast collection of stories.” [1]

Steve Mackey, on getting to know Jarvis for the first time.

I’m not sure who I’d be without Pulp. The far-too-early, unexpected death of Steve Mackey, the band’s bassist, has hit me unexpectedly hard.

Steve joined in the early nineties and, by all accounts, was the driving force in pushing them towards getting their act together and helping Jarvis become the pop star he’d been in his head since forever.

He also introduced Cocker to rave culture, and helped move the band into a more dance floor-friendly direction (well – until This is Hardcore, at least).

From love, to fashion, to style, to wit, to woo, the band were pretty much my heroes. As someone who had moved to London as an awkward teenager, with a midlands accent everyone said was northern, and who was lanky and a little odd, it was, inevitably, the jerky frontman that I got compared to.

But it was never just about Jarvis. They were a full gang of weirdos and eccentrics, from Russell’s wild stare and surreal humour, to Candida’s down to earth charm, vintage synths and brilliant on-stage outfits.

And there was Steve, the bass lieutenant, keeping everything together.

After the Britpop madness years, Jarvis and Steve started DJing together. With my then girlfriend, Eva, we saw them DJ in the screws’ social club in Pentonville Prison and, via a bit of good and fortunate timing, at a club in Barcelona.

Fridge magnet His ‘n’ Hers

At the latter, no-one apart from us was dancing: they were just staring at Jarvis.

I’ve got tickets to see Pulp at Finsbury Park in the summer, approximately 25 years since I last saw them in Finsbury Park.

Steve had announced he wasn’t going to be there for the reunion, due to focusing on his many other creative projects. But what was already going to be an emotional gig just went up a few notches.

[1] Interview with Steve by Zoe Miller for Rough Trade, official Pulp website, June 1996. I found this quote in Mark Sturdy’s excellent book on Pulp, Truth And Beauty.

One comment

  1. Loved Pulp. My flat mate studied at Central St Martin’s in 1989 and I always imagined Jarvis was picking up that Greek girl in the bar we frequented. It’s possible I may have witnessed the birth of that song. Sad to hear about Steve passing.

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