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Who’s That Singing? A Tribute to Mark Lanegan (1964-2022)

Mark Lanegan died at his home in Killarney, Ireland, on the morning of February 22, 2022, at the age of 57. His contribution to the Rock, Grunge, Folk, and Stoner/Desert music scenes will not be forgotten.

Born the same day as my dearly missed sister Joanne; Mark Lanegan has been a part of my personal musical journey almost as long as he was for his own. Over three decades I’ve had this magpie in a cuckoo’s nest of this gnarly, gravelly guy being involved in or making some of the most indefinable music that sticks around my head like candyfloss on a toddler’s jumper.

It has not yet been officially stated what has caused the loss of this greatly-loved musician; well documented long-term problems with alcohol (he was getting near 10 years sober after developing addictive alcoholism whilst still at school), and with Heroin and prescription painkillers during the height of his fame with Screaming Trees, the high-life of fame and touring itself may have been a contributing factor.

He was also overtly anti-mask and anti-vax until he very nearly died in a coma brought on by Covid related pneumonia in early 2021. He later said; “I was one of those knuckleheads who was wary of the vaccine. But I learned my lesson. I’ll be the first one to get a booster shot when it’s available in Ireland”.

Mark brought a unique vocal style to the early Grunge scene with Screaming Trees (who I admittedly never even slightly got at the time; but now quite simply adore), also his work with Queens of the Stone Age, Isobel Campbell (of Belle and Sebastien); a massive highlight that means so much to me personally, and throughout his career as a solo artist and song writer of distinctive and impressive ability.

For Mark’s solo work; if you’re not familiar with it, just get a copy of “Bubblegum”, and then beat yourself up for not already having owned it for 20 years.

Not a man without issues as you may have noticed though; during the darkest times in his life, he was seriously addicted and homeless; at one stage he was minutes away from having an arm amputated at the elbow after heroin injecting sites had become seriously infected; a surgical orderly (or some maintain they surgeon herself) recognised him and knew he sang and played guitar, and the decision was made to save his arm instead.

But all the tales (apocryphal or otherwise) don’t take away from the fact that Mark was a musician of considerable talent, empathy, and acuity; he was also a fragile and fucked up mortal man who had the calm ability to speak to others through the simple medium of music about how life can be fucked up and really difficult. I’m stopping now as I have to blow my nose, and maybe stroke my sleeping cats and walk round my house for a little while…

He still had projects on the go with other brilliant musicians; and we’ve lost those now for good. Sadly, his wife and extended family have lost the Man himself.

Rest In Peace

Mark Lanegan (1964-2022)

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