Mark Lanegan, the singer whose raspy baritone and darkly poetic songwriting made Screaming Trees an essential part of the early Seattle grunge scene and brought him an acclaimed solo career, died Tuesday at age 57.
“Our beloved friend Mark Lanegan passed away this morning at his home in Killarney, Ireland,” stated a post on Lanegan’s Twitter account, which called him “a beloved singer, songwriter, author, and musician.” Management company SKH confirmed the death of Lanegan in the New York Times. But the Management company gave no cause. In a memoir released last year, Lanegan said a severe case of COVID-19 left him hospitalized in a coma.
Lanegan never saw major commercial success. However, he won a devoted fan base that included critics and his fellow musicians of several generations through seven full-length albums with Screaming Trees, ten solo records, and collaborations with Queens of the Stone Age and many others.
“Mark Lanegan will always be etched in my heart — as he surely touched so many with his genuine self, no matter the cost, true to the end,” John Cale of the Velvet Underground said on Twitter.
Iggy Pop tweeted, “Mark Lanegan, RIP, deepest respect for you. Your fan, Iggy Pop.”
Lanegan formed the Screaming Trees in 1984 in his hometown of Ellensburg, Washington. A drummer at first, he said he was so inept he had to become a lead singer.
With their mix of moody pop and hard rock that leaned into psychedelia, Screaming Trees were among the candidates that many thought would break big from the Seattle grunge scene of the late 1980s and early ’90s. However, they would never see the widespread popularity of Nirvana and Soundgarden.
Their major-label debut for Epic Records, 1990′s “Uncle Anesthesia,” was co-produced by Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell.
The single “Bed of Roses” would get them played on MTV and modern-rock radio.
The Trees’ commercial peak came with 1992′s “Sweet Oblivion” and the single “Nearly Lost You,” which remains Lanegan’s biggest hit and best-known song, thanks in part to its appearance on the soundtrack of the Cameron Crowe film “Singles.”
The group would technically remain a unit until 2000. Still, Lanegan increasingly focused on his solo career during the 1990s, creating quieter music, more bluesy and broody, earning him the nickname “Dark Mark.”
His voice made him a sought-after collaborator with his fellow Seattle musicians. He recorded a series of Leadbelly covers with Kurt Cobain. It would never be released, but Cobain would use the “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” arrangement in a memorable performance on “MTV Unplugged.” Lanegan also sang on Alice’s in Chains’ Layne Staley and Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready.
Lanegan would lend his voice to five albums for Queens of the Stone Age, starting with their 2000 breakthrough “Rated R.”
He made three albums as a duo with Belle and Sebastian’s Isobel Campbell and formed another duo, The Gutter Twins, with The Afghan Whigs’ Greg Dulli.
He and his wife Shelley Brien moved to Killarney in County Kerry, Ireland, in 2020. He contracted COVID-19 soon after. He would write about that, his long struggle with drugs and alcohol, and his decade of sobriety in the memoir, “Devil in a Coma.”
“Mark Lanegan was a lovely man,” tweeted New Order and Joy Division bassist Peter Hook, with a photo of Lanegan joining him on stage. “He led wildlife that some of us could only dream of. He leaves us with great words and music! Thank god that through all of that, he will live forever.”
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton.
Andrew Dalton, The Associated Press.