Mark Lanegan, Singer for Screaming Trees and Queens of the Stone Age, Dies at 57 2022-02-22 19:52:06.380 GMT
By Jem Aswad
Mark Lanegan, who followed a long stint as lead vocalist for the proto-grunge band Screaming Trees with a distinguished career as an impassioned solo singer-songwriter and adventurous collaborator with Queens of the Stone Age and others, has died. A cause of death was not announced; he was 57.
“Our beloved friend Mark Lanegan passed away this morning at his home in Killarney, Ireland. A beloved singer, songwriter, author and musician he was 57 and is survived by his wife Shelley. No other information is available at this time. The family asks everyone to respect their privacy at this time.”
Sometimes recording under the sobriquet “Dark Mark,” Lanegan lived up to his sobriquet, in his work focusing on what he termed continuing themes of “loss, longing, mortality and chemical dependence” in original songs couched in music that alternated between loud, unfettered power and a hushed lyricism. Some of his deepest material was inspired by a harrowing life of dissolution, crime and addiction.
In 1985, Lanegan was already a blackout alcoholic with a long juvenile arrest record. He was repossessing rented videocassette players for a video store in his hometown of Ellensburg, Wash. — a small rural town southeast of Seattle where he was born on Nov. 25, 1964 — when he started a band with his boss’ sons, guitarist Gary Lee Conner and bassist Van Conner.
The lure of fame and the rock ‘n’ roll road appealed to the rebellious, discontented Lanegan. “I wanted excitement, adventure, decadence, depravity, anything, everything,” he wrote in his 2020 memoir “Sing Backwards and Weeps,” adding, “I would never find any of it in this dusty, isolated cow town. If the band could get me out, could get me into that life I so craved, it was worth any indignity, any hardship, any torture.”
With Lanegan serving as their imposing baritone front man, Screaming Trees was a psychedelia-tinged hard rock unit whose heavyweight early albums prefigured the explosion of grunge rock in Washington state. Attention-getting records for Southern California punk label SST Records prefaced a major-label contract with Epic. The group’s label debut “Uncle Anesthesia” contained the single “Nearly Lost You”; featured in Cameron Crowe’s 1992 feature “Singles” and its double-platinum soundtrack set, the song thrust the band to national prominence.
By that time, Lanegan had embarked on an embryonic solo career: His 1990 Sub Pop debut “The Winding Sheet” featured appearances by Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic of Nirvana (who would later perform Lanegan’s arrangement of Lead Belly’s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” at their “MTV Unplugged” appearance).
In his 2017 collection of lyrics “I Am the Wolf,” Lanegan reels off a list of artists who influenced that album’s music – including his friend and idol Jeffrey Lee Pierce of the Gun Club, Leonard Cohen, John Cale, Nick Cave and Ian Curtis of Joy Division – whose impact would be felt repeatedly over the course of a 30-year solo career.
He followed up his solo debut with three more spare, low-key Sub Pop releases, all featuring guitarist Mike Johnson (Dinosaur Jr.) and a host of Seattle grunge notables, and favoring blues, folk, soul and gospel styles: “Whiskey for the Holy Ghost” (1994), “Scraps at Midnight” (1998) and the collection of covers “I’ll Take Care of You” (1998).
Lanegan’s writing of the period reflected his continuing battle with narcotics: In 1997, with the help of the Musicians Assistance Program, he entered rehab in Southern California for his heroin and crack addictions after a period of homelessness. His ongoing conflict with Gary Lee Conner, which often devolved into physical altercations, ultimately led to the breakup of Screaming Trees in 2000.
In the immediate aftermath of the split, Lanegan appeared as a featured vocalist on “Rated R,” the debut release by the Southern California band Queens of the Stone Age, led by Josh Homme, who had served as Screaming Trees’ touring guitarist in the late ‘90s. He went on to appear on four more Queens albums, and established close ties with other members of the region’s “desert rock” cadre, including Chris Goss of Masters of Reality, Dave Catching, Nick Oliveri and Queens multi-instrumentalist Alain Johannes, who produced most of Lanegan’s latter-day solo records.
While Lanegan issued two solo records early in the new millennium – the affecting, lean “Field Songs” (2001) and the muddled “Bubblegum” (2004) – much of his activity focused on collaborations.
He recorded three albums with singer Isobel Campbell of the Scottish band Belle & Sebastian. He engaged in ongoing work in Afghan Whigs leader Greg Dulli’s side project Twilight Singers, and collaborated with the singer-guitarist under the Gutter Twins rubric for a Sub Pop album and EP. He appeared as a vocalist on two albums by the transoceanic electronic duo Soulsavers in 2007 and 2009. (Later, in the twenty-teens, he cut two albums in partnership with British musician Duke Garwood.)
In 2012, Lanegan hit another bottom. He wrote in his lyrics collection, “In the aftermath of a near-death experience, music no longer had any effect on me. I had seen no white lights or tunnels to heaven but instead just woke up as if from sleep after five days in ICU….It was as if I’d been drained of all feeling and had zero desire to even listen to music.” However, urged by his teenaged nephews to start writing again, he began work on new songs.
Thus, eight years after the release of “Bubblegum,” Lanegan returned to solo work with the compelling and sonically eclectic “Blues Funeral,” a one-off for England’s 4AD. A long association with the UK’s Heavenly Recordings followed; beginning with the album of covers “Imitations,” the company issued five sonically diverse albums between 2013 and 2020; though they received only limited attention in the U.S., these releases – which sported influences ranging from pop and country to disco and krautrock — made the musician a much-admired performer in England, where his work routinely appeared on the charts.
The most recent of his Heavenly albums, 2020’s “Straight Songs of Sorrow,” served as a musical companion of sorts to Lanegan’s unflinching, oft-horrific memoir “Sing Backwards and Weep.” Graphic and bluntly honest, the widely praised book – termed “fearsome and brutal” by the Washington Post — followed the singer’s torturous path through addiction and the drug-related deaths of his friends Cobain, Pierce and Alice in Chains vocalist Layne Staley.
I long for the days of disorder. I want them back, the days when I was alive on the earth, rippling in the quick of my skin, heedless and real. I was dumb-muscled and angry and real. This is what I long for, the breach of peace, the days of disarray when I walked real streets and did things slap-bang and felt angry and ready all the time, a danger to others and a distant mystery to myself
Post by calm ocean on Feb 22, 2022 15:52:47 GMT -5
this is devastating. his music has been a major part of my life since 1996. Was still hoping for the chance to see him perform live for the first time.
You're an ocean. Yer not the ocean. I'm an ocean. Ocean of confusion? Stop crying to the ocean, if the ocean gets rough. Swimming in your ocean, bell black ocean, ocean avenue, only the ocean. If the ocean gets rough. To the sea, ballad of the broken seas. Nightmares by the sea. If I promise an ocean would you care for the notion of staying here. You don't have to stray two oceans away. Floor of the ocean.
So Young. I have not been here in awhile. My friend saw this and told me. Totally the music of my 20s, 30s and most of my 40s. I was blessed to see him perform quite a few times. I must say that it was always great. Never less than stellar. I keep on thinking of more.
Eternal Rest grant onto them and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed through the Mercy of God, rest in peace.
I am pretty shocked and at a loss. I'll probably hang out here for a bit.
Oh, ‘cause when I started, I just could not sing, but I stuck at it, and now, I think I’m OK. - ML
I had an eerie feeling while reading "Devil in a Coma". He was so weak and fragile after the treatment. I hoped that he would recover, but the book has such a final quality to it. Strange. I'm really, really sad. Somehow I lost an eccentric nevertheless entertaining uncle. I want to express my deepest sympathy, condolences and solidarity to the families, friends and fans.
Post by tripledistilled on Feb 22, 2022 17:53:21 GMT -5
Dear friends, I am gutted to hear the news about Mark. The tributes on Twitter alone are heartbreaking and so honourable to his wild creative spirit.
There is no one near me where I live now who shared all those memorable concerts with Mark, QOTSA (2002 Ambassador Dublin FUCK YEAH!), Soulsavers... shit even Dulli (!). Most intense was seeing him in the basement club of the Academy around 2011 and we were all literally two feet from him and the late great Dave Rosser. I think Lanegan would've gotten a kick to know that same clubwas oftena fetish kink club. Heh. But being so close on a 10-inch stage... if I'd been tripping I would've sworn Lanegan roared and moved his head like a fucking lion, friends. Just amazing technique, style, and the voice... that fucking voice! Am I right??!
So I just popped back on here, and just want to check in with folk, us few weird enough to return one of the oldest online communities I'm still connected to. Got no whiskey, but had a spliff. Blues Funeral green vinyl blasting. Damn. Beautiful Mark. Sleep well.
Nonsense my friend. I guarantee your tears are shared across the globe, from the highest practictioners to the saddest lovers. I've been crying on and off since I heard two hours ago. Pretty sure Mark has plenty references to tears too... an expert... like us all here, I suppose... x