Mark William Lanegan (born November 25, 1964) is an American alternative rock musician and singer-songwriter. Born and raised in Ellensburg, Washington, Lanegan began his musical career in 1984, forming the grunge band Screaming Trees with Gary Lee Conner, Van Conner and Mark Pickerel. During his time in the band, Lanegan also started a low-key solo career and released his first solo studio album, The Winding Sheet, in 1990. Since 1990, he has released a further six studio albums and has received critical recognition and moderate commercial success.
Lanegan has also collaborated with various artists and bands throughout his career, including with Kurt Cobain of Nirvana prior to the group's breakout success with their album, Nevermind, recording an unreleased album of songs by the blues singer, Lead Belly. Following the dissolution of The Screaming Trees in 2000, he became a member of Queens of the Stone Age and is featured on three of the band's albums—Rated R (2000), Songs for the Deaf (2002) and Lullabies to Paralyze (2005). Lanegan also formed The Gutter Twins with Greg Dulli in 2003, released three collaboration albums with former Belle and Sebastian singer Isobel Campbell, and contributed to releases by Melissa Auf der Maur, Martina Topley Bird, Creature with the Atom Brain, Bomb the Bass, Soulsavers and Mad Season.
Lanegan has a distinctive baritone voice that has been described "as scratchy as a three-day beard yet as supple and pliable as moccasin leather" and compared to Tom Waits.
In 1996, during an interview for Pacific Northwest periodical "The Rocket", he said that he drove a combine. It is known that he came from a 'dysfunctional' family that he tried to avoid, and was heavily into drugs by the age of 18, having already been arrested and sentenced to one year's imprisonment for drug-related crimes. He managed to get out of jail by taking a year-long rehab course. Around this time he met and befriended Van Conner with whom he would eventually form the Screaming Trees. At this point his relationship with the Conner brothers was limited to talking about music and working for their parents' electronics hardware store.
Screaming Trees (1984–2000)
Along with Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Nirvana, Screaming Trees were part of Seattle's emerging grunge scene in the early 1990s. The band was formed in late 1984 by Mark Lanegan, guitarist Gary Lee Conner, bassist Van Conner and Mark Pickerel. Mark Pickerel would later be replaced with Barrett Martin. Lanegan said "I was such a shitty drummer that they made me sing." The band signed to Sub Pop, releasing the Other Worlds EP in 1985 (Originally available only in a cassette format, the album was re-released on CD and LP by SST Records in 1987). Though the band was being courted by major labels, in 1985 they signed to Velvetone records to release their debut album, Clairvoyance. Musically the album is a combination of psychedelic music and hard rock, while it bears many similarities to early grunge.
In 1987, the band released their second effort, and their first for SST Records, Even If and Especially When. After the release of the album in 1987 the band began working on the American indie circuit, playing shows across the US. Their follow up album was Invisible Lantern released in 1988. Buzz Factory was the fourth full-length album by Screaming Trees and their final record released through SST released in 1989.
In 1991, the band released their fifth effort, and their first for a major label. Uncle Anesthesia was released in 1991 and was produced by Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell. Uncle Anesthesia included the single "Bed of Roses", which gained considerable airtime on alternative rock radio stations. The song peaked at number 23 on the modern rock tracks and was the first Screaming Trees release to chart. Barrett Martin replaced previous drummer Pickerel and the new line up recorded Sweet Oblivion in 1992.
Sweet Oblivion was the band's breakout album and included the singles "Nearly Lost You", "Dollar Bill", "Butterfly", and "Shadow of the Season". The two first singles gained considerable airtime on alternative rock radio stations, while the video for "Nearly Lost You" became an MTV and alternative radio hit in the fall of 1992, thanks to the momentum of the Singles soundtrack. "Nearly Lost You" peaked at number 5 on the Modern Rock Tracks and number 50 in the United Kingdom and was the first single to chart outside the United States. Sweet Oblivion sold a total of 300,000 copies in the United States. Although the Screaming Trees were viewed as one of the finest bands on the Seattle scene, they never drew the commercial attention that Alice in Chains, Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden had garnered.
The band's final album (recorded after in-fighting and uncertainty over the quality of the music the band was recording had brought about a hiatus), Dust was released in 1996. The album spawned several singles, including "All I Know", and "Dying Days" and peaked at number 134 on the Billboard 200 and number 39 on the Canadian album chart which was the first Screaming Trees album to chart outside the United States. Despite consistently favorable reviews, the album did not match the commercial success of Sweet Oblivion. Following the Dust tour in the United States, Screaming Trees took another hiatus for Lanegan to begin his work on his third solo album, Scraps at Midnight. The band headed back into the studio in 1999 and recorded several demos and shopped them around to labels, but no label was willing to take them on. The band played a few surprise shows in early 2000 and following a concert to celebrate the opening of Seattle's Experience Music Project, the band surprisingly announced their official breakup.
Solo work and other projects
In 1990, Lanegan released his first solo album, The Winding Sheet via label Sub Pop (which at the time was home to friends Nirvana as well as Soundgarden and The Afghan Whigs). Lanegan had intimated that the album came around following a Leadbelly project he was working on with Mark Pickerel, Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic. The project was short lived and eventually other musicians became involved in the evolution to the debut solo record. From the Leadbelly sessions a version of "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" appeared on The Winding Sheet. "Ain't It a Shame" is available on the Nirvana box set, With the Lights Out. Cobain also supplied backing vocals on "Down in the Dark" on Lanegan's debut. The majority of the album was recorded with Pickerel on drums, Mike Johnson (who would later go on to play bass with Dinosaur Jr) on guitar, Steve Fisk on piano and organ, and Jack Endino on bass.
The second record, 1994's Whiskey for the Holy Ghost, was a far more cohesive recording, with such ethereal songs as "The River Rise", "Kingdoms of Rain", "Riding the Nightingale" and "Beggar's Blues". Taking nearly three years to make, the album came close to not seeing the light of day as Lanegan was set to throw the master tapes in a pond outside of the recording studio, only to be stopped by Producer Jack Endino at the last moment. ("Kingdoms of Rain" was re-recorded on the collaboration album with Soulsavers in 2007 and released as a single).
In 1995, Lanegan appeared on the album Above by Mad Season. The project was fronted by friend Layne Staley (Alice in Chains) and was formed in late 1994 by Staley, Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, Barrett Martin of Screaming Trees and John Baker Saunders of The Walkabouts. Lanegan appeared on "Long Gone Day" and "I'm Above". In 1998, Scraps at Midnight was released. The album was recorded the previous winter at Joshua Tree, California and produced by long-time friend and collaborator Mike Johnson.
The fourth studio album was released in 1999. The album began life as B-Sides for singles from Scraps at Midnight (two tracks from the sessions appear on the single Hotel). Liking the way the sessions were shaping up, a few more were added and the recording was entitled I'll Take Care of You. The album features covers of songs by prominent folk, R&B and punk artists such as Tim Hardin, Booker T. and the MGs and friend Jeffrey Lee Pierce, as well as country icon Buck Owens. Also in 1999, Lanegan participated in the tribute album for Moby Grape co-founder, Skip Spence, who was terminally ill.
In 2001, he released his fifth studio album, Field Songs. The album featured friend Duff McKagan, as well as major contributions from Soundgarden's bassist, Ben Shepherd. 2003 saw him appear on Greg Dulli's The Twilight Singers record Blackberry Belle, sharing lead vocal duties on the epic closing track, "Number Nine". This would be the first in many collaborations with Dulli and The Twilight Singers.
On his next solo album, Bubblegum (2004), Lanegan was joined by a cadre of prominent artists, including P. J. Harvey, Josh Homme and Nick Oliveri of Queens of the Stone Age, Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs and Twilight Singers, Dean Ween of Ween, and Duff McKagan and Izzy Stradlin, previously of Guns N' Roses. Also appearing on Bubblegum is Lanegan's ex-wife, Wendy Rae Fowler now in We Fell to Earth . The favorably reviewed album is his most commercially successful to date, reaching number 39 on Billboard's Top Independent Albums chart. Some would assume this is due to the appearance of several prominent musical figures, although the album did receive glowing review by critics.
In November 2012 Lanegan self-released a Christmas album titled Dark Mark Does Christmas 2012, including a Roky Erickson cover "Burn the Flames". The limited six-track EP has only been available at his concerts.
Queens of the Stone Age (2000–2005)
Lanegan's first appearance on a Queens of the Stone Age album was on Rated R. Lanegan sang 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.
Shortly after the release of Field Songs, Lanegan became a full-time member of Queens of the Stone Age. Lanegan appeared on the 2002 release entitled Songs for the Deaf, once again singing lead on the tracks "Song for the Dead", "Hangin' Tree", and "God Is on the Radio". The album became the band's big breakthrough and peaked at number 17 on the Billboard 200 and was certified gold by the RIAA. He also toured in support for the album over the next two years. Mark toured full-time as a third vocalist for Queens of the Stone Age for support of Songs for the Deaf. Joining his friend Joshua Homme, who supported the Screaming Trees as their touring guitarist in 1996. The album received two Best Hard Rock Performance Grammy nominations for singles "No One Knows" (2003), and "Go with the Flow" (2004).
In 2005, Lanegan released his last album with Queens of the Stone Age entitled Lullabies to Paralyze where he sang lead vocals on "This Lullaby". The album was delayed during 2004 because of some changes to the line-up: bassist Nick Oliveri was fired and on-off vocalist Mark Lanegan went on tour to support Bubblegum. Lanegan would later appear for the support of the album. Lanegan left the tour for a while, citing exhaustion, but would return to finish the tour with the band.
Lanegan told Christina Fuoco of Live Daily "My relationship with these guys is one of the most satisfying that I've had". "It's great to play with, essentially, my best friends." When he was asked about the difference between Screaming Trees and Queens of the Stone Age he said "It's all rock 'n' roll to me. A band is a band. They're really not that radically different. It's all rock music." Lanegan has continued to work with Queens of the Stone Age even after leaving the band. In 2007, he appeared on their album, Era Vulgaris, contributing background vocals to the track "River in the Road".
In early 2013, it was announced that Lanegan would be contributing to their forthcoming album.
Collaboration with Isobel Campbell (2004–Present)
In April 2004, Lanegan released an EP with former Belle & Sebastian vocalist Isobel Campbell, titled Time Is Just the Same. They would later release a single entitled "Ramblin' Man" for their collaboration album Ballad of the Broken Seas. Campbell wrote and recorded the majority of the album's tracks in Glasgow, with Lanegan adding vocals in Los Angeles. The record was well received by critics who likened the duo to Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue.
In addition to providing vocals, Lanegan also wrote the track "Revolver" with Campbell. The album was nominated for the 2006 Mercury Prize. Lanegan and Campbell played four UK concerts in January 2007, with the London date being moved to a larger venue as a result of high demand for tickets. When making the decision to make a follow-up to Ballad of the Broken Seas, Campbell stated:
After a concert with Lanegan in January 2007, Campbell asked Lanegan if he would consider making a new album, Lanegan replied: "in a heartbeat". This time Lanegan flew to Glasgow to record the new album at the end of March for nine days to record the songs Campbell had written. After working with Lanegan Campbell stated: "It is his classic, effortless American voice that I love". Campbell also stated that "I think I was playing about with that a lot so there’s a few of what Mark would call raunchy songs and a few ballads too". The album, Sunday at Devil Dirt, was released on May 5, 2008 with the track "Who Built the Road" being the only single released from it.
A third collaborative album with Campbell was released on August 16, 2010 entitled Hawk. The pair toured to promote the album, including a set at All Tomorrow's Parties, 10–12 December 2010 (Bowlie 2) curated by Belle & Sebastian and shows in Australia in 2011.
The Gutter Twins (2003–2009)
The Gutter Twins is the long awaited collaboration between Mark Lanegan and former Afghan Whigs/current Twilight Singers vocalist Greg Dulli. Working on a collaborative album since at least 2003, the pair first played as The Gutter Twins in Rome in September, 2005.
Saturnalia was released on March 4, 2008 on Sub Pop, a label both Dulli and Lanegan have worked with before. The duo's first tour commenced on February 14, 2008 in New York City and continued in March and April throughout Europe and the United States.
The album was a big hit and Blast Magazine's Liz Raftery ended up praising the album calling it "an audial descent into the dark emotions that often lurk beneath the surface." The album's highest position was at number 7 in Belgium. The album also peaked at number 117 on the Billboard 200. That means that Saturnalia is the first album since Screaming Trees' Dust that has charted at the Billboard 200 with Mark as a permanent band member. On September 2, 2008, The Gutter Twins released an EP called "Adorata" exclusively on iTunes. Adorata contains 8 tracks, most of them are covers, but also two Gutter Twins-songs that never made it to the album.
Lanegan has appeared on three releases with The Twilight Singers (Blackberry Belle, She Loves You and A Stitch in Time). In 2006, Lanegan toured with the band in Europe and Israel, which later expanded to include the United States. In 2008, Lanegan collaborated with Tim Simenon on a track entitled "Black River" which appeared on Simenon's fourth album under his Bomb the Bass moniker, Future Chaos.
In 2007, English electronica duo Soulsavers' album It's Not How Far You Fall, It's the Way You Land featured Lanegan on 8 out of 10 album tracks. As well as appearing as vocalist, the tracks "Revival", "Ghosts of You and Me", "Paper Money" and "Jesus of Nothing" are credited as written by Mark Lanegan and Soulsavers. The album also features a re-working of "Kingdoms of Rain", which was initially released on Lanegan's second solo album, Whiskey for the Holy Ghost. "Revival" and "Kingdoms of Rain" were released as singles from the album. Soulsavers recorded the tracks in England in 2005 and 2006, with Lanegan recording the vocal parts at Conway Studios in Los Angeles.
In 2009, Soulsavers again enlisted Lanegan with him contributing vocals for several tracks on their third studio album Broken. This led to a significant run of touring in support of the album, beginning on September 6, in Portland, Oregon. Following the tour of the United States, Lanegan continued to perform with them throughout their extensive run of European shows. These varied between headline gigs and slots in support of Depeche Mode. Having completed touring duties for Soulsavers, Lanegan announced a solo European tour. Shows focused specifically on his solo back catalogue, having not done so since touring finished in support of Bubblegum.
Also in 2009, Lanegan followed in Josh Homme's footsteps in collaborating with UNKLE, the British electronic act masterminded by James Lavelle. He contributed his vocals to "Another Night Out", the final track of the album Where Did the Night Fall (released in May 2010). The album was UNKLE's fifth regular studio album.
On August 12, 2010, Mark Lanegan re-joined Queens of The Stone Age on stage at the Nokia Club in Los Angeles, where he sang four encore songs with the band. The concert was put together to raise funds for Eagles of Death Metal bassist Brian O'Connor, who was diagnosed with cancer a few months prior to the event.
In 2011, Lanegan's music was featured in a trailer and end credits for the video game Rage and the soundtrack for the film The Hangover Part II. Lanegan's most recent solo album, Blues Funeral, was released in February 2012. Josh Homme, Alain Johannes, and Martyn LeNoble contributed to the creation of the album.
Lanegan has been named as the lead vocalist on the forthcoming Mad Season album.
Lanegan collaborated on a track "So Long Sin City" with Slash who recorded music for the 2011 indie film This is not a Movie, directed by Olallo Rubio, and starring Edward Furlong, Peter Coyote, Miguel Ferrer, and more.
On April 16, Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood are set to release their first studio collaboration, Black Pudding.
Lanegan collaborated with Warpaint and Massive Attack for a cover of the XX's song Crystalized.
Mark Lanegan Released a Christmas EP "Dark Mark Does Christmas" in 2012 containing traditional christmas songs and originals.
For Record Store Day 2013, Lanegan collaborated with Moby to release a 7-inch record called The Lonely Night . An accompanying video was created by Colin Rich. Of working with Lanegan, Moby stated: “I’ve been a fan of Mark’s from his early SST records days, and I’ve always wanted to work with him. He has one of the best and most distinctive voices of the last 25 years. Now that we live near each other it ended up being really easy working on a song together."
- The Winding Sheet (1990)
- Whiskey for the Holy Ghost (1994)
- Scraps at Midnight (1998)
- I'll Take Care of You (1999)
- Field Songs (2001)
- Bubblegum (2004)
- Blues Funeral (2012)
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Image from Discogs