Mark Lanegan, who began as the celebrated lead singer of grunge band Screaming Trees before a distinguished solo career and work with Queens of the Stone Age and others, has died. A cause of death was not announced.
“Our beloved friend Mark Lanegan passed away this morning at his home in Killarney, Ireland,” reads a statement on 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.”
Trees was formed in 1984, and by 1985, Lanegan was struggling with alcoholism and a long juvenile arrest record. He was repossessing rented videocassette players for a video store in his hometown of Ellensburg, Wash. — a small rural town southeast of Seattle where he was born on Nov. 25, 1964 — when he started a band with his boss’ sons, guitarist Gary Lee Conner and bassist Van Conner. That group became Screaming Trees.
By 1990, he released his first solo album for Sub Pop, The Winding Sheet. The project featured appearances by Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic of Nirvana.
In the early 2000s, he joined Queens of the Stone Age, first appearing on Rated R. He sang the lead vocals on “In the Fade,” background vocals on “Leg of Lamb,” “Autopilot,” and “I Think I Lost My Headache.” Rated R became a commercial success and became the first Queens of the Stone Age album to chart.
Leading man Josh Homme had grand designs for what became Rated R, and Lanegan had a lot to do with that. “We wanted to do a record that had a lot of dynamic range,” he revealed in an interview with The Fader in 2001. “We wanted it set up in this band so we could play anything. If anyone has a good song, regardless of style, we should be able to play it.”
Lanegan continued to stay creative throughout the 2010s and into this new decade, which was tragically cut short. He released a memoir, Sing Backwards and Weep, and a solo album that mirrored the chapters of the book, titled Straight Songs of Sorrow. He put out a punk EP with his wife Shelley Brien as Black Phoebe; another album under his Dark Mark alias, Dark Mark vs Skeleton Joe; a book of poetry; and a spur-of-the-moment move to Ireland.