Co-founding Saint Vitus bassist Mark Adams has died

The doom legend’s passing was confirmed by his Vitus bandmate Dave Chandler...

Co-founding Saint Vitus bassist Mark Adams has died
Nick Ruskell

Mark Adams, bassist with U.S. doom legends Saint Vitus, has died, aged 64. Saint Vitus guitarist Dave Chandler announced the news in a statement on Facebook earlier today.

"This is the hardest thing I've ever had to write. I found out last night," he wrote. "I can't say it out loud. I'm heartbroken to inform everyone that my best friend and co - founder of SAINT VITUS Mark Adams has passed away. The details are vague, as I haven't actually spoken with the family yet. He left us May 23 2023 peacefully in his sleep. I'm trying to contact anyone in the family to find out more.

"Mark was the best person I've ever met. He was kind to everyone, even those who did him wrong. Never had a bad word to say about anyone. Always found the good in everything no matter how bad it was. A great guy to be around. Nothing will ever be the same.

"God bless you my dear friend. I love you

"Mark Anthony Adams. 1958 - 2023."

Mark had been absent from Saint Vitus live duties since 2016 , with former Crowbar/Down bassist Pat Bruders filling his shoes. In 2018, the band announced that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's and set up a fundraiser to help cover his medical and care bills.

Though an underground concern (especially in the ’80s), the impact Saint Vitus had cannot be overstated, most often noted as perhaps the most important doom metal band of all time after Black Sabbath. Originally formed of Mark, Dave Chandler, singer Scott Reagers and drummer Armando Acosta in 1978 as Tyrant (changing to Saint Vitus in 1981, and recruiting Scott 'Wino' Weinrich as singer in 1985), their name has become synonymous for metal that's slow, dirty, soulful, and able to say and convey vast amounts of emotion through a couple of notes and a distorted amp.

Early on, the band fell between scenes somewhat. Metal fans were often perplexed by their tempos and punk edge, not to mention an overall slacker, stoner vibe. Hardcore fans were only slightly better – the band did, at least, have a clutch of fast songs as well – but with the patronage of LA legends Black Flag, with whom they toured as well as covering their classic Thirsty And Miserable and releasing albums on guitarist Greg Ginn's SST label, they carved a line in the U.S. underground. Even when they were difficult to track down, their albums – particularly their self-titled debut, 1986's essential Born Too Late, 1990's V and 1995's Die Healing – became essential documents of a band who could conjure magic out of pure simplicity.

If you're after a couple of endorsees, as well as the entire doom scene, how do Dave Grohl, James Hetfield and Tobias Forge grab you? Orange Goblin singer Ben Ward is just one of the tousands of fans and musicians who have the band's logo tattooed on them. Electric Wizard modified it for their own ends in tribute. Look at the jacket of At The Gates singer Tomas Lindberg, and you'll see their patch sitting proudly on there, while former Cathedral frontman and owner of legendary label Rise Above Records, as well as the promoter of Vitus' first UK show in 1990, called him "a friendly, cool and mellow guy."

This is an apt description of the man and his music. Mark's basslines were simple, but devastatingly effective. Perfectly locking down the mournful pace of songs like the celebratory nihilistic crawl of Born Too Late, White Magic / Black Magic's groove, or the crushing misery of Dark World, his sparse motifs were the perfect foundation on which Dave's wild, violent, neck-bending lead work could run free. Onstage, while his six-stringed compatriot would bite the neck of his instrument and appear to actually be trying to break it as he played, Mark took a slower, steadier position at the back. It may not have looked like he was doing much, but you could absolutely hear him.

Kerrang!'s thoughts are with Mark's family, bandmates and friends.

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