Mark also turned his talents to other areas. He wrote poetry, while his 2020 memoir, Sing Backwards And Weep, was simultaneously utterly bleak and grimly hilarious. The book burned his bridges with some of his fellow former Trees, who felt they were treated harshly, but he was even tougher on himself, bringing a level of blistering self-reflection and brutal candour rarely found in the airbrushed world of rock autobiographies. The book even brought brief tabloid infamy, as his revelations of ’90s backstage spats with Oasis’ frontman Liam Gallagher sparked a modern-day rematch on social media.
The following year, Mark suffered a horrific bout of COVID-19 that put him a coma and nearly killed him. He was no stranger to near-death experiences – he was also in a coma in 2005, emerging to discover, terrifyingly, that his love of music had “completely drained away”. He recovered then, and similarly bounced back from coronavirus to document his ordeal in another book, last year’s Devil In A Coma. But within a year, he was gone.
“If you live long enough, anything’s possible,” Mark poignantly told Kerrang! in 2019. “And I’ve been lucky to live this long.”
As a man who was warned he would die of alcoholism before he was 30, and who once nearly needed his arm amputated amidst the depths of heroin addiction, Mark was understandably prone to counting his blessings at living into the middle age too few of his peers got to see. But he deserves to be remembered as much more than grunge’s ultimate survivor.
Happily married to his second wife, Shelley Brien, drug-free and settled in Ireland, Mark got to spend his latter years finally in the right place and the right time for his unique musical gifts, growing into his role as the eminence grise of grunge who brought out the best in other musicians.
Those musicians have paid fulsome tribute since his passing. The Manics praised his “unique artistic vision”, Guns N’ Roses’ Duff McKagan called him “such a good man”, while Garbage hailed him as “a gifted artist with honey dipped tones”.
It’s difficult not to imagine the many future musical adventures he still had in him. Instead, we are left with his impeccable legacy and the fact that Mark Lanegan remained true to himself, right until the end.