Darkness and divorce: Sparklehorse's Linkous takes own life
He died once 14 years ago, but this time Mark Linkous won't be coming back. The 47-year-old musician who performed under the name Sparklehorse and was known for his haunting melodies and poetic lyrics, committed suicide on Saturday, March 6 in an alley outside a friend's home in Knoxville, Tennessee by shooting himself through the heart.
"It's very distressing," says his cousin-in-law, Tracey Linkous of Charlottesville, noting that Linkous had become increasingly withdrawn from extended family over the past several years and that he was devastated over the disintegration of his marriage. Linkous' manager, Shelby Meade, confirms that the musician was in the process of divorce.
The subject of the February 28, 2002 Hook cover story, when he was living near the tiny Buckingham County town of Dillwyn, Linkous famously overdosed in London in 1996 and suffered cardiac arrest, but was revived after spending several minutes technically dead. Hospitalized for months, he regained the ability to walk with leg braces–- but more importantly, he retained his ability to sing and write songs. While his work never achieved mainstream commercial success, it inspired a cultlike following and generated gushing critical reviews.
"Songs that are as a bouquet of rotting roses, heavy American gothic masterpieces delivered so hushed you can hear a feather drop," wrote the New Musical Express.
"A homemade tour de force of psychedelic Appalachian folk slop, held together by writer-producer Linkous' ruggedly melancholic whisper of a voice," praised Rolling Stone.
Linkous, who was raised by grandparents and attended Albemarle High School, would eventually collaborate with musical giants including PJ Harvey and Tom Waits, and he toured with Radiohead and R.E.M.
His most recently completed project is Dark Night of the Soul, an album-book that combines filmmaker David Lynch's photography with songs penned by Linkous and Danger Mouse, the force behind Gnarls Barkley. Despite performances by music greats including Iggy Pop and the late Vic Chesnutt (whose Christmas Day 2009 fatal overdose is widely believed to have been suicide), the album has yet to be released due to a legal dispute.
The lyric of one of Linkous' most recent songs, "Revenge," penned with Danger Mouse and performed by Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips, offers an eerie premonition of the way Linkous chose to die.
"...in my mind ”ši have shot you and stabbed you through your heart," he wrote. "”ši just didn't understand ”šthe ricochet is the second part..."
Indeed, as news of Linkous' death ricochets around the music world, those who loved his music may be understanding what he meant.