Mark Hollis, the former lead singer from the British new wave band Talk Talk, has died at age 64. Former band manager Keith Aspden confirmed the sad news in a statement that said, “Mark has died after a short illness from which he never recovered,” BBC News reports.
Talk Talk bassist Paul Webb posted a tribute to Hollis on the Facebook page for his current project Rustin Man. Webb called Mark Hollis a musical “genius” and said it had been an “honor” to be in a band with him.
“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 honor 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 a depth of feeling with sound and space like no other. He was one of the greats, if not the greatest.”
Mark Hollis formed Talk Talk with bassist Paul Webb and drummer Lee Harris in London in 1981. The band rose to mainstream success with synth-pop MTV-era hits including “It’s My Life,” “Such a Shame,” “It’s So Serious,” and the self-titled signature single, “Talk Talk.”
The band became post-rock pioneers with the release of 1986’s The Colour of Spring. Talk Talk broke up amid tensions with their record label after the release of their 1991 album Laughing Stock, and after a 1998 solo album, Mark Hollis stepped away from the music business and removed himself from the public eye so he could focus on being a father.
Post-rock pioneer Mark Hollis of Talk Talk dies https://t.co/22OHTjeYpN— MSN (@MSN) February 26, 2019
After his retirement from the music business, Hollis made a behind-the-scenes cameo on Swedish singer Anja Garbarek’s 2001 album Smiling & Waving, and he played on an instrumental piece for the TV show Boss in 2012, according to Pitchfork.
While Mark Hollis left the public eye in the late 1990s, Talk Talk’s “It’s My Life” had a new life after Gwen Stefani’s No Doubt covered it. The song became a massive hit in 2003.
After the news of Mark Hollis’ death was announced, social media was flooded with tributes from fans and fellow musicians such as Duran Duran’s Simon Lebon, The The’s Matt Johnson, and Adele producer Paul Epworth, according to Variety.
You can hear one of Talk Talk’s biggest hits with Mark Hollis below.