The Cult and Manic Street Preachers have paid tribute to their former producer Steve Brown, who passed away in early January. Brown, who produced The Cult’s classic Love album and Manic Street Preachers’ debut album Generation Terrorists, also worked with Wham!, Freddie Mercury, ABC, The Alarm and more. He died earlier this week, following a short illness related to a fall in December.
“We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of legendary producer Steve Brown,” The Cult said in a posting on social media. “He was hugely influential in The Cult’s evolution and shall forever been entwined in our DNA our deepest condolences to Steve’s family our hearts are with you.”
We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of legendary producer Steve Brown he was hugely influential in The Cult’s evolution and shall forever been entwined in our DNA our deepest condolences to Steve’s family our hearts are with you 🌹#RIP #SteveBrown pic.twitter.com/raRmfsIV5PJanuary 2, 2021
Manic Street Preachers bassist Nicky Wire also paid tribute to Brown on the band’s social media channels.
So very sad to hear of the passing of Steve Brown we had so much fun working with him-he taught us so much-so many memories and stories-Motorcycle Emptiness was his masterpiece with us but he produced many more-love and thoughts with his family and friends 💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔 pic.twitter.com/S1Mta9Y1HRJanuary 2, 2021
Here is another snapshot I took when recording Generation Terrorists at Black Barn studios-Steve with his lovely Labrador-💔💔💔💔💔 pic.twitter.com/0BkvAf1jlmJanuary 2, 2021
Brown entered the music business in the 1970s as a drum roadie following a chance conversation with Elton John at a petrol station, and went on to become a tape op in a studio alongside his schoolfriend, Steve Lillywhite, who went on to produce U2, The Pogues, Big Country, Simple Minds and more. Brown produced Wham!’s debut album Fantastic, before going on to work with The Cult and the Manics.
“She Sells Sanctuary for us was a brilliant rock record,” Nicky Wire told Classic Rock’s Scott Rowley in 2013. “That's one of the main reasons we worked with Browny. And once we went with him we were on a pattern - that's what the record [Generation Terrorists] was gonna sound like.”
In the same interview, Manics’ frontman James Dean Bradfield described how Brown’s guidance and insight shaped songs such as Slash ‘n’ Burn and Motorcycle Emptiness.
Bradfield credited Brown with transforming Generation Terrorists album opener Slash ’n’ Burn from a “shambling indie rock song” into a muscular riff-rocker.
“He was like, ‘No, it's got to have straight lines, it's got to be violent! It's got to have violence and grace!’” Bradfield recalled. “That was his thing: violence and grace. He made me write that middle section - that Michael Schenker bit. And because he produced Love, we just implicitly trusted him.”
“If Steve hadn't have kept pushing us on Motorcycle…, I don't think it would have become the song it was," he added. “He just kept pushing us to write parts, to atomise everything into one song. He was trying to tell us that we had to atomise all the outrageous statements that we'd made, and all our ambitions. We had to atomise it in one song, completely and utterly, if people were going to remain convinced by all of our bullshit and bluster. And if he hadn't, we might not have survived.”
Brown is survived by his wife of 36 years, Jacky and their sons, Max and Luke. All at CR extend our sympathies to his family.