Mark Hollis, the co-founder, lead singer and chief songwriter for Talk Talk, a British group that made its mark with early ’80s synthpop hits before morphing into something altogether artier, has died following a short illness, his former manager confirmed Tuesday. He was 64.
Word of Hollis’ death was widely shared Monday, but largely unverified. Keith Aspden, the Talk Talk leader’s ex-manager, confirmed the news in a statement released to Pitchfork, the BBC and other outlets Tuesday.
Aspden’s statement, as published by Pitchfork, reads:
“I’m still trying to accept this but sadly it’s true. Mark has died after a short illness from which he never recovered. Deeply felt sorrow for a remarkable person who remained true to himself throughout his life. I can’t tell you how much Mark influenced and changed my perceptions on art and music. I’m grateful for the time I spent with him and for the gentle beauty he shared with us.”
The London-born Hollis co-founded Talk Talk in 1981 with bassist Paul Webb — who more recently has recorded as Rustin Man — and drummer Lee Harris, and the group scored pop hits in 1982 with “Talk Talk” and in 1984 with “It’s My Life” and “Such a Shame.” But after their second album, also called It’s My Life, Talk Talk began veering into more experimental territory.
The 1986 album The Colour of Spring began that transformation, while still making a mark with the singles “Life’s What You Make It” and “Living in Another World.” But with 1988’s Spirit of Eden and 1991’s Laughing Stock, Hollis and his bandmates were incorporating jazz, folks and even classical influences in music that would later be seen as laying the groundwork for the ’90s post-rock movement.
Talk Talk disbanded after Laughing Stock, and Hollis would make one more record, a self-titled solo album in 1998, before largely retiring from the music scene and public life.
His work with Talk Talk remains hugely influential on a generation of musicians — perhaps most obviously on Radiohead — and many of Hollis’ contemporaries have paid tribute to his genius.
— THE THE (@thethe) February 25, 2019
We are so saddened to hear about the passing of Mark Hollis, lead singer and creative genius from the band Talk Talk. Our thoughts are with his family and friends https://t.co/wYc5u7SCXH
— Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (@OfficialOMD) February 25, 2019
So farewell Mark Hollis. I loved Spirit Of Eden. RIP
— Lol Tolhurst (@LolTolhurst) February 26, 2019
— Duran Duran (@duranduran) February 25, 2019
— The Dream Syndicate (@_DreamSyndicate) February 25, 2019
R.I.P. Mark Hollis,, a truly gifted individual.
— Psychedelic Furs (@pfurs) February 26, 2019
RIP – Mark Hollis.
— blancmange (@_blancmange_) February 25, 2019
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I am very shocked and saddened to hear the news of the passing of Mark Hollis. Musically he was a genius and it was a honour and a privilege to have been in a band with him. I have not seen Mark for many years, but like many musicians of our generation I have been profoundly influenced by his trailblazing musical ideas. He knew how to create depth of feeling with sound and space like no other. He was one of the greats, if not the greatest. . . . . #markhollis #talktalk