'Thank you for soundtracking my life': readers' tributes to Mark Hollis

You have been reacting to the news Mark Hollis, lead singer of Talk Talk, has died at the age of 64

‘I was staggered at their ambition and scope’

Spirit of Eden is simply brilliant and one of the top ten albums of all time for me. I worked at both EMI and PolyGram (where they later signed to Polydor) and remember being staggered at the ambition, scope and sound of the albums he delivered. In my opinion, way beyond anything anyone else was doing at the time. Today, on my way to do the shopping I will listen once again to the music of a man who I genuinely think was a genius.

Anybody who has never experienced the album, please do yourself a favour and sit down and listen to it. It is not instant and needs working at to appreciate it. But what that is brilliant comes to you without hard work? It needs time and works in its entirety as it does not have a “hit” anywhere near it. It is not designed for, nor does it work in today’s Spotify or iTunes single track format, nor did it for radio and/or MTV at the time. The compression that the internet gives does no justice to the atmosphere achieved on the original vinyl either. But I will guarantee that once it has got into you, it will be with you forever, like all good things will satisfy your soul. A genuine masterpiece. Leon Depope

‘I still cry every time I listen to Laughing Stock’

It’s funny how things affect you. It makes no difference functionally, since Mark Hollis disappeared from public life in 1998, and I certainly never met him, but I’m heartbroken.

He said (and I’m very much paraphrasing here) that he’d done everything he set out to do with those later albums, Laughing Stock especially, and that’s why he slowed down and eventually stopped. I suppose because he was able to express himself so perfectly, to listen to those records is to know him intimately. I always loved who I heard in them. A sweet soul, and an awkward bastard. I still cry every time I listen to Laughing Stock after more than a decade of listening to it on average every few days.

Even if I imagined the person I heard, It makes me so sad to know that he’s not around any more. So effortly blessed. Andrew Samoyed

‘A vibration of the human spirit’

If there’s such a thing as a vibration of the human spirit, Mark Hollis knew how to make music to match its timbre.

What an amazing, profound, integrity filled man he was. With some musicians you always look at their careers and think what might have been. Well, there’s no such regrets here.

Farewell Mark, you’ve given me more inspiration then any artist on this planet. jesusjuice89

‘Will forever bind me to the idea of English pastoral melancholy’

We’ve lost a great, singular talent. Together with his bandmates in Talk Talk he produced some of the most incredible music to have ever emerged from the UK. Talk Talk’s progression over five records is utterly ridiculous. Genius.

Living in the Netherlands, Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock will forever bind me to the idea of English pastoral melancholy, the essence of my Englishness. Anhaga

‘The most disquieting yet magnificently uplifting records I have ever listened to’

To this day I still listen in awe at what manifests forth and out of Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock especially in the darkest hours of time and of the soul. I cannot put my finger on it but as I get immersed in all the storm, swirl and silence of the music all I ever experience is light and rapture. To me they are the most disquieting yet magnificently uplifting records I have ever listened to, and yet I can only listen to them alone, the experience is too personal and intense to share. They are the most spiritual musical experience I have ever had and I cannot begin to document how much of an impact they have had on me and my life. Thank you, Mark Hollis. thegreatdargini

‘I always had this feeling he’d just emerge again one day’

I’m struggling on this one; so unexpected. I always had this feeling he’d just emerge again one day, drop an album – no fuss, no build-up … and, of course, it would be perfect. Just like Laughing Stock, just like the solo album and, of course, just like Spirit of Eden. When most of the music from the end of the 20th century is long forgotten those albums will still be played, admired and loved.

Thanks (along with Paul and Lee) for helping to soundtrack my life, Mark. Love to your friends and family. As the trees come into leaf over the next few weeks I’ll do what I always do at this time of year - play The Colour of Spring over and over again. Mitch44

‘Now is the time to turn the lights off, put the headphones on, and put the album on one more time’

I first heard Spirit of Eden when I was a sixth-form student almost 30 years ago. I’d heard nothing like it in my life. I knew of the early New Romantic Talk Talk, and some pretty catchy songs, but this? It was just from a different world ... I must have listened to that album thousands of times since and it still gives me goosebumps. There is simply nothing much to compare it with – perhaps only Laughing Stock and Hollis’s wonderful solo album.

Some say that Bark Psychosis are their nearest comparison. They’re good, but they’re not Talk Talk. And Hex is great, but it’s not Spirit of Eden. Nothing can top that ... I always held out a faint hope he’d break cover and give us something new to wonder over. Sadly, what was always likely is now certain. Now is the time to turn the lights off, put the headphones on, and put the album on one more time. There will be goosebumps, all over again ... thanks Mark, you were a genius. BiggusGeeus1973


Guardian readers

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Mark Hollis: reluctant pop star who redefined rock
Few musicians start out in pop, move into the avant garde, invent post-rock and then go silent for decades. But Talk Talk’s Hollis was no ordinary musician

Alexis Petridis

26, Feb, 2019 @12:53 PM

Article image
A sacred voice: Mark Hollis sang the English gospel
Talk Talk began as 80s synth-pop stalwarts, but Hollis developed not only what became known as post-rock, but his own transcendent music

Graeme Thomson

26, Feb, 2019 @3:30 PM

Article image
Talk Talk's visionary: Mark Hollis's ambition co-existed with commercial success
With enigmatic lyrics and aspirations to rival Shostakovich, Hollis considered himself the leader of a jazz band which should never stop innovating

Annie Zaleski

26, Feb, 2019 @5:11 PM

Article image
He disappeared into the fog: Mark Hollis the ethereal outsider
Talk Talk’s singer was a master of melancholy and reinvention whose touchingly tender voice allowed us to vanish into ourselves

Jude Rogers

26, Feb, 2019 @2:30 PM

Article image
Musicians on Mark Hollis: 'He found hooks in places I'm still trying to fathom'
Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor, Charlotte Church, Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry and others on his songs, enigmatic spirit and musical vision

Interviews by Laura Snapes

26, Feb, 2019 @6:00 PM

Article image
Mark Hollis obituary
Lead singer of Talk Talk who took the group from synth-pop chart success into boldly experimental territory

Adam Sweeting

26, Feb, 2019 @3:09 PM

Article image
Mark Hollis, lead singer of Talk Talk, dies aged 64
Keith Aspden, Hollis’s long-term manager, confirmed the death of the art-pop pioneer, hailing his ‘gentle beauty’

Guardian music

25, Feb, 2019 @9:19 PM

Article image
Talk Talk – 10 of the best
Led by the hugely talented Mark Hollis, the London-based four-piece transitioned from bright, hard-edged pop to mesmeric, meditative post-rock over the course of nine years and five albums

Graeme Thomson

25, May, 2017 @6:00 AM

Wherefore art thou Mark Hollis?

The story of Hollis and his band Talk Talk has to be one of the more interesting of the synth pop era

Alan McGee

09, Apr, 2008 @2:00 PM

Article image
Talk Talk: the band who disappeared from view
Mark Hollis’s group started out as poppy hitmakers, then lost most of their audience as they invented a musical vocabulary of their own. Now a new tribute album is celebrating their legacy

Graeme Thomson

13, Sep, 2012 @11:57 AM