Mark Lanegan, Screaming Trees and Queens of the Stone Age Singer, Dies at 57
Mark William Lanegan was born on Nov. 25, 1964, in Ellensburg, Wash., a small farming city. His parents, Dale and Floy, were teachers, according to his well-received 2020 book, “Sing Backwards and Weep: A Memoir.”
One of his first memories of music, he said in an interview with the YouTube channel FaceCulture in 2012, was when he was at a fishing pond with his father and heard a song and thought, “Oh, man, that’s sad-sounding.” He later discovered that the song was the 1974 track “Love Hurts” by the Scottish rock band Nazareth.
He discovered punk rock when he saw “a strangely compelling photo of a shirtless man on the cover of Creem magazine” at the only record shop in Ellensburg, he wrote in “Sing Backwards and Weep.” It was Iggy Pop. The store’s owner played him some early punk singles, and the Sex Pistols’ “‘Anarchy in the U.K.’ was the revelation that changed my life, instantly and forever,” he wrote.
Mr. Lanegan’s path first crossed with Mr. Cobain’s in Ellensburg after a concert at the local library well before Nirvana broke through: “I want to tell you, I’m a huge fan of yours,” Mr. Lanegan recalled Mr. Cobain saying in his first memoir. “I loved Kurt and I envied him because Nirvana were fully developed from the first moment I heard them,” he wrote. “The Trees, on the other hand, were always fighting: fighting each other, fighting fans and promoters and bouncers, fighting to find a direction.”
Mr. Lanegan had been candid about his past drug use and a self-destructive lifestyle. In his memoir, he chronicled his journey from a “self-loathing redneck” to a rock star to a homeless heroin addict, and said Mr. Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love, had helped get him to rehab after Mr. Cobain’s death. “She was directly involved in saving my life,” he told Rolling Stone in 2020.
After rehab, he joined up with Queens of the Stone Age, handling lead vocals on several tracks from the band’s 2000 album “Rated R” and its 2002 follow-up, “Songs for the Deaf.” Through Mr. Homme, he developed a friendship with Anthony Bourdain, and the two musicians wrote the theme for the chef’s TV show “Parts Unknown.” It was Mr. Bourdain who encouraged Mr. Lanegan to write his memoirs.