Pop & Hiss

The L.A. Times music blog

« Previous Post | Pop & Hiss Home | Next Post »

Mark Linkous, aka Sparklehorse, takes his own life, his family says [Updated + Corrected]

March 7, 2010 |  1:40 pm


North Carolina-based singer-songwriter Mark Linkous, who recorded under the name Sparklehorse, has committed suicide, his family said. Known most recently as part of the Danger Mouse and David Lynch collaboration "Dark Night of the Soul," which will finally see an official album release this year, Linkous specialized in a somewhat dreamy, fractured take on blues and folk heard through the prism of his own unique style of songcraft. 

The news of his passing was confirmed via an online statement attributed to his family. "It is with great sadness that we share the news that our dear friend and family member, Mark Linkous, took his own life today," read the statement posted on the official Sparklehorse website. "We are thankful for his time with us and will hold him forever in our hearts."

[Updated at 2:05 p.m.: A spokeswoman for the artist corroborated the family's statement and provided additional details. Linkous took his own life with a gun on Saturday, she said. He was 47.]

Frequently working with a wide variety of vintage instruments and curious noisemakers, Linkous first rose to prominence with 1995's "Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot," which was produced with the help of Cracker's David Lowery and spawned the brief alt-radio hit "Someday I Will Treat You Good." Subsequent albums featured contributions from P.J. Harvey, Tom Waits and Brian Burton's Danger Mouse, who contributed to Sparklehorse's 2006 album "Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain."

[For the record: An earlier version of this post incorrectly spelled the last name of Cracker's David Lowery as Lowry.]

Linkous was briefly paralyzed after a near-overdose of Valium and antidepressants in 1996, and eventually grew to use leg braces to get around after the accident destroyed his calf muscles. In a 2007 interview, Linkous talked about struggling with depression for years before recording his 2006 album. "It just got really bad for three years. It was this vortex I couldn't climb out of," he explained. "I think probably a little confidence is what helped, and that confidence was music. Just getting a song down, one at a time, that I felt was decent."

"He's not like anybody I've ever worked with, and probably won't be," Burton said in an interview that year. Linkous leaves behind a unique collection of music that never entirely repeated itself, yet never sounded like anything but a Sparklehorse record. A mercurial artist who took five years to follow up his 2001 album "It's a Wonderful Life," Linkous was nearly finished with recording a new album for Anti- Records, Rolling Stone reported. 

“We are thankful for his time with us and will hold him forever in our hearts," read the Linkous family statement. "May his journey be peaceful, happy and free. There’s a heaven and there’s a star for you.”

[Updated at 2:05 p.m.: His survivors include his wife, Teresa; his mother, Gloria Hughes Thacker; his father, Frederick Linkous; and his brothers, Matt, Paul and Daniel Linkous.]

-- Chris Barton


Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse's Mark Linkous and David Lynch bring 'Dark Night of the Soul' to L.A.

Photo: Mark Linkous in 2006. Credit: Timothy Saccenti / Astralwerks