The Wham! producer. Club Tropicana and She Sells Sanctuary of The Cult succumbed to a brief illness after a crash in December.
Steve Brown, who in the 1980s and 1990s provided crisp and anthemic production for some of the biggest music acts in Britain, died at the age of 65 after a brief illness after a fall at his home in early December. Brown produced hits such as The Cult’s She Sells Sanctuary, Wham! Brown created hits like The Cult’s She Sells Sanctuary, Wham’s Club Tropicana! And Motorcycle Emptiness by the Preachers of Manic Lane. After Brown mistakenly bumped into Elton John at a gas station, who told him to call his boss, his career started as a teenager in the early 1970s. He then got a job as a drum roadie. This led to a job in a studio as a sound engineer alongside an old school classmate, Steve Lillywhite, who later would also become a popular producer. On hits like Wizzard’s I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day and the evolving punk scene, Brown worked his way up to sound engineer. In the late 1970s, alongside Robert “Mutt” Lange for the Boomtown Rats, he became a co-producer and switched into glossy pop in the 1980s, producing hits for ABC such as Tears Are Not Enough. When he produced Wham!, his greatest success came in 1983! Fantastic’s debut album featured the singles Young Guns (Go for It) and Club Tropicana. In 1985, he said, “I like producing sounds you want to turn up,” Brown turned away from synth-pop and back to guitar, and helped make The Cult’s She Sells Sanctuary one of the great rock anthems of the 1980s, while also producing throughout the decade with Freddie Mercury, Alison Moyet, The Alarm and others. The Cult paid him homage, saying, “In the 1990s, he brought a similar stadium sound to the Manic Street Preachers’ single Motorcycle Emptiness, with bassist Nicky Wire also paying tribute, saying they “had so much fun working with Steve. He taught us so much.” He also collaborated on the Britpop hit Attack of the Grey Lantern by Mansun and is survived by his wife Jacky, to whom he was married for 36 years, and their two sons Max and Luke. “He was the most lovable guy, kind, compassionate and amazingly funny,” Jacky said. “With his humor, he lit up a room and always sought to help those who had less than he did. He left, both professionally and emotionally, a true legacy.