‘Genius’ musician Mark Hollis, frontman of 1980s new wave band Talk Talk, dies at 64

Mark Hollis, the ‘genius’ frontman of British new wave group Talk Talk has died, aged 64.

Music industry figures paid tribute to the north London musician branded a ‘creative mastermind’ who led the band formed in 1981.

They rose to fame in the 1980s throughout Europe on the success of synth-pop hits including ‘Talk Talk,’ ‘It’s My Life’ and ‘Such a Shame.’

Later, the album Spirit of Eden was branded a ‘masterpiece’.

Tributes flooded social media from fans, friends and family members. 

Bassist Paul Webb, aka Rustin Man, wrote on Facebook: ‘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 honour 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.’

English new wave band, Talk Talk, 1982. Left to right: keyboard player Simon Brenner, singer Mark Hollis, drummer Lee Harris and bassist Paul Webb

English new wave band, Talk Talk, 1982. Left to right: keyboard player Simon Brenner, singer Mark Hollis, drummer Lee Harris and bassist Paul Webb

English new wave band, Talk Talk, 1982. Left to right: keyboard player Simon Brenner, singer Mark Hollis, drummer Lee Harris and bassist Paul Webb

Mark Hollis of Talk Talk performs on stage at Hammersmith Odeon on May 7th, 1986 in London

Mark Hollis of Talk Talk performs on stage at Hammersmith Odeon on May 7th, 1986 in London

Mark Hollis of Talk Talk performs on stage at Hammersmith Odeon on May 7th, 1986 in London

Anthony Costello tweeted on Monday: ‘RIP Mark Hollis. Cousin-in-law. Wonderful husband and father. Fascinating and principled man. Retired from the music business 20 years ago but an indefinable musical icon.’

Tim Pope, who directed Talk Talk’s music videos, also said: ‘Goodbye Mark Hollis of Talk Talk. Condolences to his lovely family. We had many, many laughs together…’ 

British post-punk band The The said on Twitter Hollis was ‘behind some of the finest albums of the 1980s/early 1990s.’

And UK chart-toppers Doves tweeted: ‘Goodbye Mark Hollis,We owe you so much ,I cant overstate the influence on us three as musicians and us as a band.’

Canadian indie pop outfit Stars said Hollis was a ‘genius,’ adding: ‘nobody made music that sounded like his. please spend time listening to his work. this one hurts. badly.’

Representatives of Hollis did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and his cause of death remains unknown.

After success in the early 1980s the band turned their sound in a new direction with their 1986 album ‘The Colour of Spring,’ taking a more improvisational approach with guitar, pianos and organs to pioneer the genre later known as ‘post-rock.’

Mark Hollis was described as a 'creative mastermind' as tributes poured in after his death

Mark Hollis was described as a 'creative mastermind' as tributes poured in after his death

Mark Hollis was described as a ‘creative mastermind’ as tributes poured in after his death

‘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,’ Webb wrote of Hollis.

Their work influenced acclaimed acts including Radiohead and Sigur Ros – but the improv technique made touring difficult, and the group split in 1991 following tensions with their label.

Talk Talk experienced a mild resurgence stateside in 2003 after California rock band No Doubt covered ‘It’s My Life.’

The band rose to fame in the 1980s throughout Europe on the success of synth-pop hits including 'Talk Talk,' 'It's My Life' and 'Such a Shame'

The band rose to fame in the 1980s throughout Europe on the success of synth-pop hits including 'Talk Talk,' 'It's My Life' and 'Such a Shame'

The band rose to fame in the 1980s throughout Europe on the success of synth-pop hits including ‘Talk Talk,’ ‘It’s My Life’ and ‘Such a Shame’

Hollis also released a self-titled solo album in 1998 but then largely disappeared from the public eye. 

 

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