Mark Lanegan, singer of Screaming Trees and singer of Queens of the Stone Age, dies at 57
As the lead singer of Screaming Trees, Mr. Lanegan was an architect of Seattle’s high-octane grunge scene, which reached a national following in the late 1980s and 1990s with the rise of bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden. His own band never reached those commercial heights, but did achieve success on MTV and alternative radio with their 1992 single “Nearly Lost You,” which was featured on the soundtrack to Cameron’s romantic comedy Gen-X. Crowe “Singles”.
Honing a sharp sound that blended psychedelia, punk and roots rock, Screaming Trees made seven albums before breaking up in 2000, after years of drug and alcohol fueled acrimony between Mr. Lanegan and his bandmates.
By then Mr. Lanegan had also established himself as a brooding, darkly poetic solo artist, teaming up with producer and musician Mike Johnson to record albums such as ‘The Winding Sheet’ (1990), which the Former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl called it “one of the greatest albums of all time”, citing it as a key influence on Nirvana’s famous “MTV Unplugged” performance.
Reviewing Mr. Lanegan’s second solo album, “Whiskey for the Holy Ghost” (1994), All Music journalist Mark Deming wrote that “Lanegan’s voice, bathed in bourbon and nicotine, transforms the deep sadness of country blues (a clear inspiration for this music) into something new, captivating and entirely his own.
Mr. Lanegan has released a dozen solo albums while venturing into new musical territory, collaborating with artists such as Velvet Underground co-founder John Cale, singer-songwriter Neko Case and pioneer Moby electronic music.
He joined Queens of the Stone Age as guest vocalist for several records; teamed up with Greg Dulli, leader of the Afghan Whigs, to form a duo called the Gutter Twins; recorded with rock supergroup Mad Season; and made three well-received albums with former Belle and Sebastian singer Isobel Campbell, whose airy voice was a warm counterpoint to her own soaring baritone.
For much of his career, he also struggled with alcohol, drug and sex addictions, which he recounted in a heartbreaking 2020 memoir, “Sing Backwards and Weep.” Reviewing the book for Britain’s New Statesman magazine, author John Niven wrote that Mr Lanegan provided ‘one of the most compelling accounts of misery and misery ever written on paper’, detailing his stint from alcohol to heroin to crack cocaine, and the ways he begged, borrowed and stole to finance his use.
Mr Lanegan said he used torn tube socks to cover up the marks on his forearms and was hospitalized while on tour in 1992 with an arm so infected that doctors considered to amputate it. “I nearly (died) a couple of times,” he once told the Seattle Times. “And tons of my friends have. But, when you’re in the middle of what is ultimately just a horrible nightmarish existence, the last thing you want to believe is that you might not get out.
As he said, he helped save his friend Kurt Cobain from at least one overdose, but never picked up the phone when the Nirvana frontman kept calling the day he died by suicide in 1994. “I considered him a darling little brother,” Mr. Lanegan said. “It’s a guilt I will always have.” (He later mourned the loss of his close friend and collaborator Layne Staley, the lead singer of Alice in Chains, to a drug overdose in 2002.)
Mr Lanegan said his own life was saved largely thanks to singer-songwriter Courtney Love, Cobain’s widow, who helped pay for him to attend drug treatment at the late 1990s, at a time when Mr. Lanegan was homeless. In its wake, he refocused his attention on music and said he was looking to move on by getting away from “everything in Seattle”, carving out a career separate from his place in development. grunge.
“I wish I could say I’m a perfect example of transformation and transcendence, but I’m basically still a guy who thinks of himself as a breakfast cook who’s been singing for a while,” he told the Guardian. in 2020. “I” am still a deeply flawed person. The difference is that I am aware of it.
Mark William Lanegan was born in Ellensburg, Washington on November 25, 1964. His parents were teachers who divorced when he was young – as he said, his mother was abusive, his father neglectful – and at the age of 12-year-old Mr Lanegan had become what he later described as a ‘compulsive gambler, rookie alcoholic, thief, porn fiend’. He left high school with a rap sheet that included shoplifting, drug possession, and insurance fraud.
Mr Lanegan was a teenager when he met brothers Van and Gary Lee Conner, who played bass and guitar and shared his love of punk and garage rock. They formed Screaming Trees in the mid-1980s and, with the addition of drummer Mark Pickerel, released their first studio album, “Clairvoyance”, in 1986.
“The band was sick, violent, depressing, destructive and dangerous,” Mr Lanegan wrote in his memoir, adding that it was also “my ticket out of my dead end life in my hometown”.
His marriage to musician Wendy Rae Fowler ended in divorce. Survivors include his wife, singer Shelley Brien, with whom he moved from Los Angeles to Ireland in 2020.
As a solo artist, Mr. Lanegan went from the acoustic vocals of his early albums to a rock-oriented sound on “Bubblegum” (2004), which featured contributors such as English singer PJ Harvey, and to a more refined electronics on “Phantom”. Radio” (2014). He began to take off musically after coming out of rehab, when he started working with Queens of the Stone Age and released his album “Field Songs” (2001).
“That’s when I started to feel like I finally knew what I was doing with my voice. I knew what to say, and I didn’t have to think about it too much,” he said. told the Los Angeles Times.
“It wasn’t a fight anymore,” he added. “It was, in fact, a joy. A pain turned into something that I thought of as a form of therapy. I found that if I started playing guitar, the rest of the world kind of melted away. When it happened, I knew it was something I was going to keep. It was a good fifteen years to make records. I have a high pain tolerance.
Jennifer Hassan contributed to this report.