Mark Linkous, renowned and beloved singer/songwriter who released his music under the name Sparklehorse, took his own life this Saturday in Knoxville, Tennessee. He was 47 years old.
With Sparklehorse, Linkous created a vivid, beloved alt-rock/alt-country sound adored by his fans for its earnest, yet dark, lyrics. Sparklehorse released its first album in 1995, releasing three more albums while Linkous produced numerous collaborations. Linkous' latest effort was his work with Brian "Danger Mouse" Burton on the grandiose collaboration Dark Night of the Soul.
I had the chance to see Linkous perform in 1996, and it's something I'll never forget.
As other artists remember Mark Linkous, I'd like to tell of my own experience seeing Mark perform...
Sparklehorse opened for Cracker that night at the now defunct La Luna in Portland, Oregon. Linkous had always had a good relationship with the band Cracker -- lead singer David Lowery, especially. So much so, in fact, that Cracker helped Linkous record Sparkelhorse's debut album, Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot.
I have seen plenty of live shows in my time, but seeing Linkous play that night will always stand out in my mind. Sadly, this is because Linkous performed by himself, confined to a wheelchair. Those that know of Linkous' career know that he ingested a dangerous mixture of anti-depressants and valium in a London hotel room while on tour with Radiohead in 1996. He actually died for two minutes, all while leaving his legs pinned underneath him, cutting off all circulation for 14 hours. He suffered a heart attack -- due to a massive potassium buildup stopping his heart -- when paramedics tried to straighten his legs. Linkous was almost crippled from the whole affair and was left wheelchair bound for the next six months.
Obviously, the only reason I mention all of those grisly details of Linkous' near-death experience is because the man still managed to go on tour, weak and confined to a wheelchair. In spite of his frail condition, Linkous still played to a packed house that night in Portland. There was a slight confusion among the crowd, everyone trying to grasp what they were seeing in front of them as Linkous quietly played his songs slumped in his wheelchair.
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Not everyone knew that Linkous had almost died a few months ago, yet there he was, perched onstage doing his damnedest to perform with whatever energy his weakened body would give him that night. I remember thinking how odd and awkward Linkous was that night, but when I later learned of his ordeal in London, I quickly realized what a rare, unique and, quite frankly, amazing performance that was.
I will never, ever forget Vivadixie... and the numerous times I listened to the album after seeing Mark Linkous play. I was 12 years old when I saw Linkous, and I still have vivid memories of that night. Sure, I would have loved him to be in full health so I could have seen him tear through the album, but I wouldn't trade Mark Linkous' courageous, selfless performance that night for anything in the world.
I, for one, will never forget you, Mark. Rest in peace. You will be sorely missed.