“I’m still trying to accept this but sadly it’s true,” Aspden said in the statement. “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.”
News has started to spread yesterday about Hollis’ death with publications calling the death “reportedly” and musicians and fans sharing their memories of Mark Hollis. It became clear this was real when members of the group like Paul Webb shared their own memories of him.
Hollis was a founding member of Talk Talk with drummer Lee Harris and bassist Paul Webb. They would release five albums together The Party’s Over, It’s My Life, The Colour of Spring, the seminal (though commercially a flop) Spirit Of Eden and their final album Laughing Stock in 1991. They broke up after Laughing Stock because of label and legal troubles. Hollis would then go on to release one more solo album in 1998 before retiring from the music industry all together.
Their music progressed and evolved over that 10-year span. Their first two albums embodied the period with bombastic flourishes and drums and powerful synth pop that was powered by Hollis’ unique and deep voice. They would shift their music a bit on their later albums, with Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock embracing their art-rock sound fully and The Colour of Spring finding a way to bridge the gap between the two periods of Talk Talk.
Hollis after his solo album disappeared from public life. That became part of his mystique that he made his incredibly influential music for a short period of time and then disappeared. He made rare appearances on records, but would never record another large project again.
He chose his family over the grueling and unforgiving industry. “I choose for my family,” Hollis told Q (via Rolling Stone) after withdrawing from the spotlight. “Maybe others are capable of doing it, but I can’t go on tour and be a good dad at the same time.”
Spirit of Eden is hailed as one of the best and most influential albums of the 1980s and helped spur the post-rock genre. His name constantly comes up when artists talk about their chief influences and who they would have wanted to work with. His mystic status would grow and grow as one of the best songwriters of the era. Leaving the music industry behind without a grand statement felt like the perfect thing for Hollis who had been assailed by labels and the powers at be for the majority of his career.