Mark Hollis: 1955 - 2019 - News - Soundblab

Mark Hollis: 1955 - 2019

by Simon Heavisides Rating: Release Date:
Mark Hollis: 1955 - 2019
Mark Hollis: 1955 - 2019

It was confirmed today that Mark Hollis, former lead singer of Talk Talk, has died at the age of 64.

Having received the news via email from a friend I walked to work with tears streaming down my face. An over-reaction to the death of someone I didn’t know and had never met? Possibly, but if you’re one of the people for whom the music of Mark Hollis and Talk Talk had become woven into the fabric of your life, possibly over many years, then maybe not.

Of course, it’s often said that a particular band or artist are unique, singular etc. rarely is it as true as it was for Mark Hollis. Just consider that career arc, from punk beginner to post-rock pioneer via being written off as a Duran Duran wannabe, making one of the iconic albums of the 80s and then committing career suicide for the next two. It’s not one that you often see repeated.

Oddly as well, you tend to find that fans are very passionate about which section of his career they treasure the most, with advocates vocal about each of the Talk Talk albums and the solo record.

For me, it was The Colour of Spring that carried the most weight. But not necessarily the album itself, as wonderful as it is, but rather the live albums taken from the following tour which I was lucky enough to witness (one an Italian bootleg of a BBC broadcast). Here the songs took flight into something even more vivid and emotional if such a thing is possible. The remarkable sight of Mark, barefoot, with eyes hidden behind Lennon glasses, living the songs is something I’ll never forget. Just watch the live at Montreux DVD for thankfully available evidence.

And those songs. Let’s be obvious and take Life is What You Make It, on the surface seemingly a cliché surely? Not in the hands of Mark Hollis. He seemed to have the ability to take an apparently simple concept, add layers and layers of meaning but crucially to never lose the beauty of the original inspiration. In fact, you could see his whole ‘career’ as a quest for that simplicity of expression, until by the time of 1998’s solo album he’d virtually erased himself from the music.

Then, of course, nothing more was heard other than the very occasional low key bit of soundtrack work. Instead another rarity, a dignified and honourable decision to live another life.

I occasionally wondered what I would do in the unlikely event I ever bumped into Mark Hollis in London one day, maybe do the usual and tell him how much his music meant to me or possibly to ask about future projects? But no, I think I knew deep down that I would have simply walked on by and left him to his day.

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