Sparklehorse visionary Mark Linkous, 47, took his life with a gunshot to his heart on Saturday (Mar. 6) in Knoxville, Tenn.
Best known for his unique folk-based soundscapes, the singer-songwriter, who recorded under the name Sparklehorse, released four studio albums that were met with critical acclaim but little commercial success. His album catalog includes 1995’s “Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot” (30,000 copies sold according to Nielsen SoundScan), “1998’s “Good Morning Spider (34,000 copies sold),” 2001’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” (63,000 copies sold) and 2006’s “Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain” (33,000 copies sold). In addition, EP “Distorted Ghost” (10,000 copies sold) came out in 2000.
It was announced last week that the Sparklehorse/Danger Mouse collaboration “Dark Night of the Soul,” which was due out last year but was delayed due to legal wrangling, will be released soon. In addition, Linkous — a longtime North Carolina resident, who was in the process of moving to Knoxville — was finishing up his own new studio effort to be released on Anti- Records. He also produced Daniel Johnston‘s 2003 album “Fear Yourself.”
Linkous’ journey wasn’t without rough patches, most notably a 1996 near-overdose of Valium and antidepressants incident that temporarily left him paralyzed and forced him to use leg braces. He also publicly battled depression.
On Saturday (Mar. 6), Linkous’ family posted a statement on the Sparklehorse website. “It is with great sadness that we share the news that our dear friend and family member, Mark Linkous, took his own life today,” it read. “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.”
Radiohead bassist Colin Greenwood posted his thoughts on the Radiohead Web site: “I was very sad to hear the news that Mark Linkous has died. He and his band toured with us in Europe, at the start of ‘OK Computer,’ and they were great every night. His first two records were very important to me, and I carried his music from the tour into my life, and my friends’ lives too. He was softly spoken, with an Old South courtesy I hadn’t heard before: he introduced me to Daniel Johnston’s music, and the West Virginian writing of Pinckney Benedict. Mark wrote and played some beautiful music, and we’re lucky to have it. Rest in Peace.”
Linkous is survived by: wife, Teresa Linkous; mother, Gloria Hughes Thacker; father, Frederick Linkous; and stepmother, Leta; and three brothers Matt, Paul and Daniel Linkous.