James Alec Stewart (born 31 January 1964) is a British musician and former bassist of the 1980s post-punk/hard rock group The Cult. He played bass guitar on each of The Cult's first four albums (Dreamtime, Love, Electric and Sonic Temple), and keyboards on Dreamtime and Love.
Stewart's musical career began playing guitar in Harrow-based band Ritual. Ritual gigged extensively in London's gothic rock/ post-punk scene but rarely outside. Ritual's first output was a 4 song radio session for BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel in 1981. This led the way for a self-compiled and released cassette album Songs for a Dead King, which was available only at gigs and by mail order. In 1982, Ritual signed to Red Flame Records and released one single - Mind Disease (1982) - and one EP - Kangaroo Court (1983). In 1983, Ritual drummer Ray Mondo was recruited by Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy to form Death Cult (later The Cult). Stewart, after prompting from Mondo, attended auditions for the Death Cult bass player role and was subsequently hired.
From their beginning, Death Cult had a commitment to Beggars Banquet Records. In April 1983, Death Cult released an EP - Death Cult - on Beggars offshoot label Situation Two. In Sep 1983, Ray Mondo was replaced by Nigel Preston, Duffy’s former bandmate in Theatre of Hate. At the time, Preston was playing with post-punk/ goth band Sex Gang Children. A drummer swap was agreed between the bands, feeling that the playing styles of each drummer were better suited to the future direction of the other band. In October 1983, Death Cult released a single, God's Zoo, with Preston on drums.
Following the recording of the band's third album, Electric, in 1986, the band felt that a second guitarist was needed on tour to reproduce the music of Electric. The role was filled by Stewart, having a familiarity with the songs and style, and being a former guitarist. For the tours, Kid Chaos (formerly of Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction) was recruited.
Stewart continued to appear on bass in the first two promotional videos for Electric - Love Removal Machine and Lil Devil. The 5 piece line-up with Stewart on guitar was used for the 3rd video, Wild Flower.
Stewart moved back to bass for the recording and touring of the Sonic Temple album. Keyboards for the recording were played by John Webster (Aerosmith, Tom Cochrane), and by John Sinclair (Ozzy Osbourne, Uriah Heep) on tour.
In 1990, following the tour, Stewart left the band, citing the distance that had grown between Astbury and Duffy, and a wish to start a family, as the main reasons for departure. His final appearance with The Cult was at the Universal Amphitheater, Los Angeles, 3 April 1990.
In 1991, following the birth of his daughter, he moved with his family to Toronto, Canada, to pursue a production career. In 1992, Stewart produced the Joni Mitchell song A Case of You with Toronto-based band Sloan for the tribute album Back to the Garden. The song became the album’s most successful single.
Stewart worked with Ripped in 1994 to produce songs for their debut album Bloodshot.
While in Toronto, Stewart also took other opportunities for studio performance. In 1993, he co-wrote, produced and played bass on an EP for Polygram Canada with Toronto singer/ guitarist Ed McDonald, entitled Masterstroke. In 1994, he played fretless bass on Memory Thief, the second album by Polygram artists Lost & Profound.
In 1994, Stewart retired from the music industry, and moved back to the UK with his family.
On 10 October 2009, on a tour celebrating the 25th anniversary of the release of the Love album, Stewart played bass again with his former bandmates on stage at London’s Royal Albert Hall for two encores, The Phoenix and She Sells Sanctuary. He was also joined onstage by the original drummer for the recordings, Mark Brzezicki (formerly of Big Country).
Again, for the 25th anniversary of the release of the Electric album in 2013, Stewart made several other guest appearances:
Stewart now works in software and user interface design, and lives in Oxfordshire, with his family.