The independent music world lost one of its true visionaries, as Rolling Stone is reporting that Mark Linkous, the singer-songwriter and genius behind Sparklehorse (and a number of other genre-pushing projects), took his own life on Saturday (March 6). “It is with great sadness that we share the news that our dear friend and family member, Mark Linkous, took his own life today,” Linkous’ family said in a statement. “We are thankful for his time with us and will hold him forever in our hearts. May his journey be peaceful, happy and free. There’s a heaven and there’s a star for you.”
Originally from Virginia, Linkous set up a small independent music empire in North Carolina, crafting his own psychedelic takes on folk and indie rock both with Sparklehorse and for other artists. His first album as Sparklehorse, Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot, was released in 1995 and received great acclaim from the college radio scene (as well as a brief flirtation with mainstream success in the form of the single “Someday I Will Treat You Good,” which got some modern rock radio buzz). Radiohead drafted him as their opening act, and three more Sparklehorse LPs followed: 1998’s stellar Good Morning Spider, 2001’s It’s a Wonderful Life and 2006’s Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain, all of which featured collaborations and production contributions from the likes of DJ Danger Mouse, Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridmann, Tom Waits and PJ Harvey. 2009 saw the completion of Dark Night of the Soul, a multi-platform team-up between Linkous, Danger Mouse and film icon David Lynch. (It was held up in a contract dispute with EMI, but is scheduled for a proper release soon.)
One of the most harrowing moments of Linkous’ life came during the Radiohead tour in 1996. While in Europe, he overdosed on a combination of alcohol, heroin and Valium, which stopped his heart for several minutes and left him without the use of his legs for six months (during which time he wrote most of Good Morning Spider, by far his darkest work). According to his publicist, Linkous left behind a nearly-completed Sparklehorse album.