Mark Hollis, the co-founder and lead singer of the pioneering Second British Invasion band Talk Talk, has reportedly died at age 64.
While as of this writing there has been no official confirmation of Hollis’s death from his representatives, Matt Johnson of The The, video director Tim Pope (who lensed several Talk Talk videos, including the MTV hit “It’s My Life”) and Hollis’s cousin-in-law Anthony Costello have all tweeted their condolences.
— THE THE (@thethe) February 25, 2019
Goodbye to Mark Hollis of Talk Talk. Condolences to his lovely family. We had many, many laughs together. This is us being the nightmare interview from hell https://t.co/xzqfQnN4P6
— Tim Pope🎥 (@timpopedirector) February 25, 2019
RIP Mark Hollis. Cousin-in-law. Wonderful husband and father. Fascinating and principled man. Retired from the music business 20 years ago but an indefinable musical icon.
Talk Talk – It's My Life (Live at Montreux 1986) https://t.co/eGRfLWHt6r
— Anthony Costello (@globalhlthtwit) February 25, 2019
Though Talk Talk are best known for “It’s My Life,” which went to No. 33 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1984 and became a top 10 hit for No Doubt in 2003, and the U.K. top 20 ballad “Life’s What You Make It,” they boldly embraced a much more experimental sound on 1988’s Spirit of Eden and 1991’s Laughing Stock, both of which hugely influenced the post-rock genre. The latter was named the “11th best album of the 1990s” by Pitchfork and declared the greatest post-rock album of all time by Stylus magazine.
In an essay for the Guardian, Creation Records founder Alan McGee expressed his admiration for Hollis’s artistic integrity, writing: “Spirit of Eden has not dated; it’s remarkable how contemporary it sounds, anticipating post-rock, the Verve and Radiohead. It’s the sound of an artist being given the keys to the kingdom and returning with art. Yet upon completion it was seen as utter commercial suicide, as if Duran Duran had released a Krautrock, free jazz, gospel album after Notorious. EMI responded by suing Hollis for being wilfully obscure and un-commercial, much as when David Geffen sued Neil Young for not sounding Neil Young enough. This ridiculous case was eventually thrown out of court yet it had a long lasting impact on the music industry. The lawsuit set the precedent for the clause that a band’s recordings have to be of a commercially satisfactory nature.”
Talk Talk disbanded in 1992 after the release of Laughing Stock, and Hollis issued one self-titled solo album in 1998 before largely retiring from the music business to focus on raising his children. Hollis explained in an interview with the Dutch press, “I choose for my family. Maybe others are capable of doing it, but I can’t go on tour and be a good dad at the same time.” McGee wrote in his Guardian piece, “It’s a shame that there was no real fanfare for his retirement, but that’s probably the way he liked it. With a legacy that includes Spirit of Eden, perhaps there was nothing more he had to prove.”
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