Mark Lanegan, the broken voice of a cursed singer


a concise release Through his official Twitter account, he shocked the independent music scene on Tuesday night. It was communicated that Mark Lanegan had died at his home in Killarney (Ireland), at the age of 57, without further information being provided at that time and asking for respect for family privacy, especially for his wife. , Shelly.

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Public displays of condolence began to happen, with messages that navigated between surprise and pain from artists as capital for the history of rock as Iggy-Pop, John Cale, Peter Hook, J Mascis or Warren Ellisreference stamps such as 4AD or festivals like Azkena Rockwho also recalled what has sadly become their last performance in our country, at the 2019 edition of BIME, in Bilbao.

In a recent interview With the portal Consequence of Sound, Lanegan spoke openly about his hard battle against the coronavirus, during which he spent up to three weeks in a coma and also suffered temporary deafness. In a advancement for The Guardian from his recent memoir, Devil in a Comarecounted this harrowing experience, but it has not been confirmed whether his death is related to the possible effects of persistent COVID-19.

Screaming Trees, one of the great 'covered' grunge

If a perfect singer had to be chosen to represent the figure of the 'cursed rocker', Lanegan would undoubtedly be well positioned, along with other intimidating figures such as Nick Cave or Michael Gira (Swans). With a hieratic pose and deep voice, his biography touches on all the sticks necessary for a good biopic in the matter. Born in 1964, music soon saved him from a probably miserable existence in the small town of Ellensburg, Washington.

Another of the theses that would support his candidacy would be that, despite being considered one of the pioneers of sound grungy, his band Screaming Trees never achieved global stardom. While Nirvana, Pearl Jam or Soundgarden stormed MTV, the quartet made up of Gary Lee Conner, Van Conner, Mark Pickerel and Lanegan stayed, like The Afghan Whigs, in a prestigious and influential second division, but also much less recognized.


After his debut in 1986 with ClairvoyanceScreaming Trees released three major albums for SST Records, between 1987 and 1989, before signing with Epic Records to sign a trilogy without which North American independent rock of the 90s would not be fully understood. Uncle Anesthesia (1991), co-produced by Chris Cornell of Soundgarden, Sweet Oblivion (1992), their first commercially successful album, and the group's somewhat acrimonious farewell, Dust (nineteen ninety six).

A brilliant and confessional solo career

Despite his mysterious airs, Mark Lanegan was always a restless musician. Even during his time with Screaming Trees he took advantage of every break in the band to release solo albums as remembered as his debut, The Winding Sheet (Sub Pop, 1990), where Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic collaborated, one album aforementioned by third Nirvana member Dave Grohl as one of his all-time favorites.


There are few releases in his career that are less than remarkable, from some initial ones like Whiskey for The Holy Ghost (1994), Scraps at Midnight (1998) or I'll Take Care of You (1999), perfect definitions of a style that transitions harshly between rock, blues and even country, to others plagued with stellar collaborations such as Bubblegum (2004), where the incandescent duets with the British singer PJ Harvey stand out.

His last solo stage is also full of interesting titles, such as the mourner Funeral Blues (2012), another of those located among the best of his career, gargoyles (2017) or Somebody's Knocking (2019). His latest feature, with the prescient title of Straight Songs of Sorrowwas released by Heavenly in 2020 and is inspired by Sing Backwards and Weep: A Memoirautobiography considered one of the crudest descriptions of the dark side of rock.


A generous and prolific collaborator

Lanegan is one of the few musicians whose collaborations have been almost as important as his own recording career. A fact that is probably due to two fundamental factors: his status as one of the great stars of the underground of the last three decades, and a great generosity when it comes to sharing the studio and stage with other generation colleagues.

One of the most relevant is undoubtedly the Queens of The Stone Age. The ex-Kyuss and leader of the band, Josh Homme, has already collaborated with Screaming Trees and Lanegan returned the favor by contributing to records as important as RatedR (2000) and especially Songs for The Deaf (2002), on whose Spanish tour he accompanied them. Another would be with Greg Dulli, soul of The Afghan Whigs, with whom he has collaborated profusely, as in his records with The Twilight Singers, and even shared a project, The Gutter Twins, editing Saturnalia with Sub Pop in 2008.


His alliance with Isobel Campbell, one of the founders of the Scottish pop band Belle and Sebastian, was also extensive, whose sweet voice made a perfect alliance with Lanegan's cavernous throat. Between 2006 and 2010 they released three albums, Ballad of the Broken Seas, Sunday at Devil Dirt and Hawk. But his list of collaborations is almost endless, with Moby, Soulsavers, Neko Case or The Armed among many other alliances. One of the last was last year, alongside Joe Cardamone (The Icarus Line), under the alias of Dark Mark vs Skeleton Joe. In 2020, Lanegan also collaborated with a group from Madrid, Agrio, for which he wrote the lyrics and provided vocals on the song. A Drink of Poison Water.





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