Mark Lanegan, Screaming Trees Singer & Grunge Icon, Dies At 57
Musician Mark Lanegan has died at the age of 57. The singer and songwriter was known as the lead vocalist for Screaming Trees as well as being part of Queens of the Stone Age.
“Our beloved friend Mark Lanegan passed away this morning at his home in Killarney, Ireland,” read a statement posted to his Twitter account.
“A beloved singer, songwriter, author and musician he was 57 and is survived by his wife Shelley. No other information is available at this time. The family asks everyone to respect their privacy at this time.”
Once a long-time drug user and friend of Kurt Cobain, Jeffrey Lee Pierce of the Gun Club, and Alice in Chains’ Layne Staley – all of which he detailed in his 2020 memoir Sing Backwards and Weep – Lanegan was called “rock’s great survivor”.
In 1985, at age 21, Lanegan was working for a video store in his hometown of Ellensburg, Washington – what he described as a “dusty, isolated cow town” – when he formed a band with his boss’s sons, guitarist Gary Lee Conner and bassist Van Conner.
The Screaming Trees would go on to record seven studio albums before their breakup in 2000, and rose to fame as part of the grunge movement of the early 1990s centered around Seattle. An eighth album, Last Words: The Final Recordings, which was recorded in 1998-1999, was released by drummer Barrett Martin’s label in 2011.
Lanegan also embarked on a solo career during the peak of the band’s fame. His 1990 solo debut The Winding Sheet included appearances from Cobain and Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, and numerous grunge figures appeared on subsequent releases Whiskey for the Holy Ghost, Scraps at Midnight and the collection of covers I’ll Take Care of You.
Shortly after the publication of his memoir – a raw, harrowing saga of addiction, destitution and grief – Lanegan and his wife Shelley Brien moved from California to Killarney, Co. Kerry, in Ireland, a place they’d first visited when they appeared on Other Voices in 2004.
“A friend of mine had a house here,” Lanegan said late last year. “When I became reacquainted with the physical beauty of the place and made some really good friends right off the bat, the warmth of those people made it an easy place to stay. Sometimes I have trouble with the high voice accent, but I’m learning…”
Lanegan said he thrived in lockdown, entering a prolific period of writing lyrics, poetry and music, until the morning he awoke completely deaf and unable to stand or draw oxygen.
He lost his balance, suffered a bad fall and was admitted to intensive care, where he was diagnosed with a life-threatening case of Covid-19.
What followed was a bedridden three-month ordeal of insomnia, hallucinations, intubations, a four-week medically induced coma and the constant struggle for breath.
If he’d had to contend with the American healthcare system, Lanegan said, “I’d be dead, or in debt for 10 lifetimes. It was incredibly lucky that I was here.”
Paying tribute to Lanegan, Joy Division and New Order co-founder Peter Hook described the singer as a “lovely man” who led a “wild life”. Hook shared a black and white photo to Twitter and wrote: “Mark Lanegan was a lovely man. He led a wild life that some of us could only dream of.
“He leaves us with fantastic words and music! Thank god that through all of that he will live forever. RIP Mark. Sleep well. Love Hooky. X”