Mark Lanegan, a singer whose hoarse baritone and grimly poetic songwriting made Screaming Trees an integral part of Seattle’s early grunge scene and brought him a recognized solo career, died Tuesday at the age of 57.
“Our beloved friend Mark Lanegan died this morning at his home in Killarney, Ireland,” the statement said. Lanegan’s Twitter account, who called him “a favorite singer, songwriter, author and musician.” The SKH management company confirmed the death for New York Times.
The cause of death is not specified. In a memoir published last year, Lanegan said a severe COVID-19 case led to him being hospitalized in a coma.
Lanegan has never had much commercial success, but through seven full-length albums with Screaming Trees, 10 solo recordings and collaborations with Queens of the Stone Age and many more, he won loyal fans who included critics and his fellow musicians of several generations.
“Mark Lanegan will forever remain in my heart because he has definitely touched many with his true identity, no matter the cost, faithful to the end,” John Cale of Velvet Underground said on Twitter.
Iggy Pop tweeted: “Mark Lanegan, RIP, Yours sincerely. Your fan, Iggy Pop.”
Lanegan created Screaming Trees in 1984 in his hometown of Elensburg, Washington. At first a drummer, he said he was so incompetent that he had to become a soloist.
With their mix of moody pop music and hard rock leaning towards psychedelia, Screaming Trees were some of the candidates that many thought would come out of the Seattle grunge scene in the late 1980s and early 90s, though they never will not see the widespread popularity of Nirvana and Soundgarden.
Their debut on a major label for Epic Records, “Uncle Anesthesia” of the 1990s, was co-produced
The single “Bed of Roses” made them sound on MTV and modern rock radio.
The commercial peak of The Trees came with the 1992 song “Sweet Oblivion” and the single “Nearly Lost You”, which remains Lanegan’s biggest hit and most famous song, thanks in part to the soundtrack to Cameron’s film “Singles”. “
Technically, the band remained united until 2000, but Lanegan increasingly focused on his solo career during the 1990s, creating music that was quieter, more bluesy and more thoughtful, earning him the nickname “Dark Mark”.
His voice made him a sought-after collaborator with his fellow musicians from Seattle. He sang in projects with Lane Staley of Alice in Chains and Mike McCready of Pearl Jam. He recorded a series of Leadbelly covers with Kurt Cobain. It will never be released, but Cobain uses their “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” arrangement in a memorable performance on “MTV Unplugged.”
Lanegan has lent his voice to five albums for Queens of the Stone Age, starting with their 2000 breakthrough “Rated R”.
He made three albums as a duet with Isabel Campbell of Bell and Sebastian and created another duet, The Gutter Twins, with Greg Dali of The Afghan Whigs.
He and wife Shelley Brian moved to Killarney in County Kerry, Ireland, in 2020. Shortly thereafter, he contracted COVID-19. About this, his long struggle with drugs and alcohol and a decade of sobriety, he will write in his memoir “The Devil in a Coma.”
“Mark Lanegan was a great man,” New Order and Joy Division bassist Peter Hooke tweeted 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 fantastic words and music! Thank God that through all this he will live forever.”