Mark Lanegan obituary | Mark Lanegan

Yoshiko Yap

The demise of Mark Lanegan, the former vocalist with the bands Screaming Trees and Queens of the Stone Age, at the age of 57, feels painfully untimely, but he had been strolling a tightrope for most of his lifetime. Final calendar year, Covid-19 rendered him deaf, unable to wander and commonly comatose he wrote a terrifying account of the expertise in Satan in a Coma (2021). As a teen he experienced numerous brushes with the law for drug and alcohol offences. A infamous drunk by the time he was 12, he admitted that he had commenced taking heroin as a way to conquer his alcohol problem.

At 20, he was run in excess of by a tractor the accident arrived just as he was preparing to go away his native Washington state and head for Las Vegas. In its place of likely to Nevada, he ended up joining the prototype grunge band Screaming Trees, which set him off on his musical job. Inspite of releasing a string of often impressive albums, which helped set up Lanegan as an expressive singer blessed with a rich and dim array of vocal tones, the group ended up handicapped by violent individuality clashes, and never hit the professional heights enjoyed by contemporaries these kinds of as Nirvana or Soundgarden.

By the time Screaming Trees called it quits in 2000, Lanegan was previously 4 albums into a solo occupation. This had started in 1990 when he unveiled The Winding Sheet, a brooding and downbeat established of music typified by his doomy variation of Direct Belly’s In which Did You Rest Very last Night time. This featured Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain on guitar, and the track also entered Nirvana’s repertoire. All of the dozen solo discs he produced over a 30-calendar year period of time had a lot to offer in distinct means, serving to to affirm Lanegan’s standing as a author and performer who was compared to these idiosyncratic artists as Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave.

Mark Lanegan and Isobel Campbell
Mark Lanegan’s collaboration with Isobel Campbell, appropriate, generated 3 albums which includes the Mercury-nominated Ballad of the Broken Seas. Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian

He was born in Ellensburg, Washington, a tiny city 130 miles from Seattle, where the local industries had been logging and farming. His mothers and fathers, Dale and Floy, had been each academics. He recalled listening to albums by the nation artists Johnny Money, George Jones and Willie Nelson in the spouse and children household, as very well as Frank Sinatra and Andy Williams, but he experienced an abusive upbringing which prompted him to get refuge in drink and narcotics.

In a 2019 job interview for the Occur to Exactly where I’m From podcast, he explained how different branches of his family were being Catholic, Jehovah’s Witnesses and “some spiritual cult that does not even have a name”, from which he had concluded that “organised religion for me is just so significantly bullshit.” He recalled the time when his father retreated to a cabin in the Cascade mountains to reside a hermit’s daily life.

At Ellensburg high school, as effectively as soaking up punk data by bands these types of as the Damned and the Sexual intercourse Pistols, he turned friendly with Van Conner, whose household gave him a task repossessing electrical goods from clients driving on their payments. Van invited Lanegan to engage in drums in the band he had formed with his brother Gary Lee Conner, but considering the fact that he proved to be a much much better singer than drummer, Mark Pickerel took more than the drum stool though Lanegan moved to lead vocals.

So Screaming Trees have been shaped in 1984, and they produced their debut album, Clairvoyance, in 1986. The band crafted a adhering to on the indie circuit with their uncooked, punk-charged tunes, but it was not until eventually 1992 that they broke as a result of to a large viewers when their music Virtually Shed You was made use of in the film Singles and grew to become a hit on the US different airplay and mainstream rock charts. This was from their sixth album, Sweet Oblivion, with Screaming Trees now signed to Epic, possessing been with the impartial label SST.

Screaming Trees
Mark Lanegan, 2nd correct, with Screaming Trees in 1993. Their final album, Dust, attained the United kingdom Top rated 40 and generated the strike solitary All I Know. Photograph: Gie Knaeps/Getty Photos

They relished extra achievements with the single Greenback Monthly bill, though their last album, Dust (1996), arrived at the Best 40 in the United kingdom and manufactured a hit solitary with All I Know. The band by now had matured way over and above their ragged garage-band beginnings, although the strings, acoustic guitar and harmonies on the anthemic tune Sworn and Broken may possibly have sounded alarmingly mainstream for some fans.

Lanegan’s stint with Queens of the Stone Age started immediately after he struck up a friendship with the band’s founder, Josh Homme, when he toured with Screaming Trees as an more guitarist. Lanegan was a permanent member for a time, then enjoyed a friendly arrangement as a aspect-time contributor. This eventually ended by mutual consent. “It was too simple,” Lanegan confessed. “I desired to do something else.”

It was with Homme that Lanegan wrote the concept tune for the Tv chef Anthony Bourdain’s display Anthony Bourdain: Elements Not known. Bourdain’s suicide in 2018 was particularly grim for Lanegan, who had currently been scarred by Cobain’s suicide and the drug-overdose demise of yet another close friend, Layne Staley of the Seattle band Alice in Chains. Lanegan experienced appeared on the album Higher than (1995) by the grunge supergroup Mad Season, whose associates bundled Staley and Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready.

Lanegan savored profitable collaborations with quite a few artists, but fared especially well in his partnership with Isobel Campbell (formerly of Belle & Sebastian). They designed three albums together, one particular of them, Ballad of the Damaged Seas (2006), earning a Mercury prize nomination. He shaped the Gutter Twins with Greg Dulli, and launched the album Saturnalia (2008). Dulli described the collaboration as “the Satanic Everly Brothers”.

Lanegan was also developing a effective occupation as an author. He exhibited his gifts as a poet in Plague Poems (2020, with Wesley Eisold) and Leaving California (2021), though the autobiographical memoir Sing Backwards and Weep (2020), a horrifying odyssey of addiction and dysfunction, acquired lavish praise from visitors and critics.

At the time of his death, Lanegan was dwelling in Killarney, County Kerry, with his next spouse, Shelley Brien, who survives him. His initial marriage, to Wendy Rae Fowler, finished in divorce.

Mark William Lanegan, singer, songwriter and creator, born 25 November 1964 died 22 February 2022

This article was amended on 26 and 27 February 2022. The third graphic exhibits Lanegan 2nd appropriate, not on the remaining as an previously edition explained. And even though Lanegan appeared on the album Previously mentioned by the grunge supergroup Mad Year, he was not a member of the group.

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