Letter: Simon Brenner on his Talk Talk bandmate Mark Hollis


Although I spent only a relatively short time working with Mark Hollis – as a member of Talk Talk from 1981 to 1983 – it had a profound and long lasting effect on my life.

I met Mark when I was working in a record store in South End Green, north-west London. We were introduced to each other through a mutual bass-playing friend before the other two members, Paul Webb and Lee Harris, joined. We met in his flat in Muswell Hill, where he lived with his then girlfriend, Flick, and we listened to lots of records together, deciphering the details of everything from Carmina Burana to King Crimson and Bob Marley.

We then wrote several pieces of music together in a small piano room at the Island Music offices and, with melodies complete, were invited to go round to the lyricist Don Black’s flat, by his son, Clive, who worked at Island. Don then wrote lyrics to the two songs which we recorded as demos. It was after this that we recruited Paul and Lee.

When I met him, Mark already had a relationship with Pete Cornish and Keith Aspden at Island, and they allowed us to use their rehearsal rooms, where we wrote the first album and prepared for our first gigs. Mark and I founded the band together and were very close at that time.

The relative success of Talk Talk’s first album certainly provided a firm launch pad for the band. The work that Mark and the band went on to produce was nothing short of brilliant. He was an extraordinary singer and musician.

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