Mark Lanegan, the singer whose raspy baritone and dark, poetic songwriting made Screaming Trees a staple of Seattle’s grunge scene and won him an acclaimed solo career, died Tuesday at age 57.
“Our beloved friend Mark Lanegan passed away this morning at his home in Killarney, Ireland,” a message on Lanegan’s Twitter account, who called him “a beloved singer, songwriter, author and musician”. Management company SKH confirmed the death for The New York Times.
No cause was given. In a memoir published last year, Lanegan said a severe case of COVID-19 left him hospitalized in a coma.
Lanegan never achieved major commercial success, but through seven full-length albums with Screaming Trees, 10 solo records, and collaborations with Queens of the Stone Age and many others, he gained a devoted fan base that included critics and fellow musicians of several generations.
“Mark Lanegan will forever be etched in my heart – for he surely touched so many with his authentic self, no matter the cost, loyal to the end”, John Cale of the Velvet Underground said on Twitter.
Iggy Pop tweeted: “Mark Lanegan, RIP, deepest respect for you. Your fan, Iggy Pop.
Lanegan formed the Screaming Trees in 1984 in his hometown of Ellensburg, Washington. Originally a drummer, he said he was so incompetent that he had to become a singer.
With their mix of whimsical pop and psychedelia-leaning hard rock, Screaming Trees were among the contenders many thought would emerge from Seattle’s grunge scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s – although they would never see Nirvana’s widespread popularity. and Soundgarden.
Their first major label for Epic Records, 1990’s “Uncle Anesthesia”, was co-produced by Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell.
The single “Bed of Roses” got them playing on MTV and modern rock radio.
The Trees’ commercial peak came with 1992’s “Sweet Oblivion” and the single “Nearly Lost You”, which remains Lanegan’s biggest hit and best-known song, thanks in part to its appearance on the film’s soundtrack. by Cameron Crowe “Singles”. ”
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The band would technically remain a unit until 2000, but Lanegan increasingly focused on their solo career during the 1990s, creating quieter, bluesier and darker music, earning them the nickname “Dark Mark”.
His vocals made him a sought-after collaborator with fellow Seattle musicians. He sang on projects with Layne Staley of Alice in Chains and Mike McCready of Pearl Jam. He recorded a series of Lead Belly covers with Kurt Cobain. It would never be released, but Cobain would use his arrangement of “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” in a memorable performance on “MTV Unplugged.”
Lanegan would lend her vocals to five albums for Queens of the Stone Age, beginning with their 2000 breakthrough “Rated R.”
He has made three duet albums with Isobel Campbell of Belle and Sebastian and formed another duo, The Gutter Twins, with Greg Dulli of the Afghan Whigs.
He and his wife Shelley Brien moved to Killarney in County Kerry, Ireland in 2020. He contracted COVID-19 soon after. He would write about it, his long struggle with drugs and alcohol, and his decade of memoir sobriety, “Devil in a Coma.”
“Mark Lanegan was a lovely man,” New Order and Joy Division bassist Peter Hook tweeted, along with a photo of Lanegan joining him on stage. “He led a wild life that some of us could only dream of. He leaves us with fantastic lyrics and music! Thank God, through it all, he will live forever.