Steve Mackay, the saxophonist who appeared on the Stooges‘ 1970 LP Fun House and a longtime touring member of the group following the Stooges’ reunion in 2003, died recently following a month-long fight with sepsis. Mackay was 66.
“Steve was a classic ’60s American guy, full of generosity and love for anyone he met,” Iggy Pop said in a statement (via Pitchfork). “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.”
Mackay, who, like the Stooges, was rooted in Michigan, briefly joined the band in 1970 before the recording of the group’s classic LP Fun House, one of Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Mackay’s tenor saxophone bolstered a pair of that album’s tracks, “Fun House” and “1970.” Although his initial tenure with the Stooges was brief, Mackay later rejoined the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band during their 2003 reunion – including their 2009 set at Coachella, the Stooges’ first gig together in 29 years – and would remain a member of the group’s touring outfit in the dozen years that followed.
Mackay also featured on the Stooges’ 2007 comeback album The Weirdness and 2013’s Ready to Die, as well as the band’s live LPs Have Some Fun: Live at Ungano’s, a 2010 release featuring the Stooges’ August 1970 show in New York City, and Raw Power Live: In the Hands of the Fans, which documented the Stooges’ full performance of that 1973 album at the 2010 All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival in Monticello, New York. In addition to his stint with the Stooges, MacKay also performed as part of the Violent Femmes’ Horns of Dilemma during that band’s live performances.
In September, it was revealed that Mackay was in critical condition at a Daly City, California hospital battling sepsis, an infection-triggered complication that damages organ systems, sometimes resulting in organ failure. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Steve and [his wife] Patti for the best possible outcome,” Stooges guitarist James Williamson said in a statement at the time (via Ultimate Classic Rock). “Steve was always an important part of our band’s live sound, and last year I worked with him again when he played on a couple of songs on my solo album. His expression was always unique. It was all his own.”