Rolling Stone reports that Steve Mackay, the Detroit saxophonist most famous for playing on the beyond-classic Stooges album Fun House, died recently at a California hospital after a battle with sepsis. He was 66.
Mackay got his start in the Detroit avant-rock group Carnal Kitchen, and that’s how he came to the attention of Stooges frontman Iggy Pop. Pop recruited Mackay to play on the Stooges’ second album, and his molten free-jazz squawks added a whole new dimension to that band’s furious sound. Fun House came out in summer 1970, and Mackay spent a few months touring with the band, though he left by the end of the year.
Mackay kept playing throughout the years. In the ’70s, he formed a new version of Carnal Kitchen with his wife, singer/bassist Annie Garcia-Mackay. He also collaborated with artists like the Violent Femmes, Smegma, Zu, and Andre Williams, and he joined forces with noise collective Radon to form Steve Mackay And The Radon Ensemble.
When the Stooges first reunited at Coachella in 2013, Mackay played with them, and he continued to play with them up until recently. He also appeared on their two reunion albums, 2007’s The Weirdness and 2013’s Ready To Die. In a statement on Facebook, Iggy Pop says, “Steve was a classic ’60s American guy, full of generosity and love for anyone he met. Every time he put his sax to his lips and honked, he lightened my road and brightened the whole world. He was a credit to his group and his generation. To know him was to love him.”
Below, watch some footage of the Stooges playing “1970” in 1970, with a near-inaudible Mackay.