Mark Lanegan Remembered in New Book: Exclusive Excerpts from His Musical Peers

Including testimonials from current and former members of Soundgarden, Screaming Trees, Nirvana, QOTSA, and more

Mark Lanegan
Mark Lanegan, photo by Amy Harris

    Heavy Consequence contributor Greg Prato is also the author of several rock books. His latest, titled Lanegan, pays tribute to late singer Mark Lanegan. Below he introduces exclusive excerpts from Lanegan, as told by the vocalist’s musical peers.

    As learned throughout his autobiography, Sing Backwards and Weep: A Memoir, few lived their life as hard as Mark Lanegan did. After apparently overcoming a near-fatal episode with COVID in 2021 (which was discussed in another memoir, Devil in a Coma, as well as in a 2021 interview with Heavy Consequence, it appeared as though nothing could stop the singer. But sadly, this proved not to be the case — as he passed away on February 22nd, 2022, at the age of 57.

    As a tribute to the vocalist  — who is best known as the frontman of Screaming Trees and an erstwhile member of Queens of the Stone Age (in addition to his solo work, The Gutter Twins, and other collaborations) — I interviewed over 20 musicians, friends, and admirers of his music for my latest book, simply titled Lanegan. Below are excerpts from the book, which touch upon various eras of his remarkable career.


    Kim Thayil (Soundgarden): We played shows with the Trees, and Mark Pickerel used to joke about how the Trees were compared to the Doors – because on the early Trees records, people would describe Lanegan as having a voice that was reminiscent of Jim Morrison. And in our early days, in the context of playing for punk audiences, we were Zeppelin-like – for good or bad. So, the joke that Mark Pickerel would make – and I think Lanegan made it, too – was, “We should tour together. It would be like the Zeppelin/Doors tour that never happened!”

    Charles R. Cross (editor of The Rocket, author of the Kurt Cobain biography Heavier Than Heaven): I think early on [Lanegan and Cobain] were friendly because of their music. Both of them were two men that kind of felt “not pretty,” and outsiders. Their relationship was also based, however, on drugs. And in that world of “drug buddy-ness,” the drugs are ahead of every friendship. So, no matter how close you are to somebody, drugs play a role in it. What I will say about Mark — for all the junkies I knew, he was pretty self-effacing about it. He didn’t hide the fact that he was a junkie. He wasn’t like Kurt. Kurt often did interviews and said, “I’m clean. I’m doing better than I ever have.” Mark didn’t have that duplicity to him. He wasn’t good at marketing himself. But he’d pretty much given up the idea of being a pop idol, I think.

    Nick Oliveri (ex-Queens of the Stone Age, ex-Kyuss, Stöner): Mark said he wrote some lyrics on “Something in the Way” with Kurt on Nevermind. But Kurt had played on some of Mark’s solo stuff, The Winding Sheet. So, instead of getting paid, they just did this thing where, “Hey man, I added a lyric on your song and you added a lyric on my song. Let’s just call it even. Whatever happens, happens.” Little did Mark know, if he would have had publishing on “Something in the Way” on Nevermind, he would have had a lot of money. I remember him kicking himself in the butt a little bit about that – “If I had that ‘Something in the Way’ publishing…”


    Gary Lee Conner (Screaming Trees): When we were working on songwriting for Dust, during that time, Mark is like, “Courtney wants us to do a song.” And it was that song — “You Know You’re Right” [a then-unreleased Nirvana song]. So, I got a tape of it and we learned it. We never recorded it. But we learned it without Mark, and Mark came down to sing it…and he couldn’t. He changed his mind. And that was the end of it. But who knows? We could have had a big hit with Kurt’s song. [Laughs] I’d imagine it would have been a pretty big deal – in ‘95 or ‘96 to release a cover of an unknown Nirvana song. I don’t know. That was the idea. But I don’t know if it was the idea of capitalizing on Kurt … although we could have used the money.

    Charles R. Cross: I’m going to be one of the few people to say “Nearly Lost You” was great. That’s definitely the best song on Singles. Mark and I specifically talked about that — he was shocked that it scored him a gold record.

    Charles Peterson (photographer): Winding Sheet is a pretty freakin’ amazing record. And then the follow-up too, Whiskey for the Holy Ghost, and Scraps at Midnight. Those three records are pretty damn great. I like a lot of his later stuff — he put out so many records, I just get a little lost with it all.


    Jack Endino (producer/mixer): I had to talk him out of throwing the tapes [for Whiskey for the Holy Ghost] in Bear Creek, because he was so critical of the record. By the time I worked with Mark at Bear Creek Studio, I think it was my second or third time working on that project over the course of an extended period of time. He was so sick and tired of revisiting these songs and singing them over and over again — trying to find the magic he was looking for – that he seriously wanted to scrap the whole thing and start over from scratch. After putting like, a couple of years work into it.

    And that was when I stepped in front of him and stopped him from taking the tapes out and throwing them in Bear Creek. Which is an actual creek that runs through the woods right behind the studio – it’s literally right outside the control room back door. It’s a lovely babbling brook. I had to talk him down from trashing the entire record. I said, “No. You are NOT going to throw the tapes in the creek … after all the work I put into it, as well as you and everybody else!” I just had to convince him that it was worth finishing. He just needed somebody to tell him that, I guess.