The Daily Pulse:

R.I.P. Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse

Death can be a revelation. It was only after reading a Sunday news report about Mark Linkous' suicide that we found out the singer/songwriter behind the band Sparklehorse had just moved to Knoxville and planned to open a recording studio here.

Linkous shot himself on Saturday, March 6, in an alley in North Knoxville, according to police. He was 47.

Linkous had been suffering from "personal problems," according to Lt. Greg Hoskins of the Knoxville Police Department, and told friends he was taking a walk. An eyewitness saw him in an alley off of Irwin Street with a rifle and called police at 1:20 p.m. The witness saw Linkous shoot himself. Hoskins says Linkous was dead at the scene.

Linkous' main partner in Sparklehorse was Scott Minor, who moved to Knoxville a couple of years ago but has kept a low profile. Local artists the Black Lillies and Jill Andrews recorded their 2009 CDs at Minor's Elk Gang studio.

"I was over at Scott's on a daily basis, so I got to know Mark over there," says Cruz Contreras, of the Black Lillies. "He made a great impression on me, and I was thrilled to get to know him. This is definitely a tragedy for a lot of people. Right away, when I first met him, he was this mysterious rock star,but he was a really gentle spirit. He had a cool patience to him, and he was very supportive and very complimentary to us. That meant a lot to us, coming from him."
 
Linkous, who grew up in Virginia and later lived in New York and North Carolina, recorded four albums of dark, country-tinged pop between 1996 and 2006 with Sparklehorse. The early albums Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot (1996) and Good Morning Spider (1998) featured folk music filtered through lo-fi rock and distortion. The later albums It's a Wonderful Life (2001) and Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain (2006) were moodier and more atmospheric.
 
Last year, he collaborated with the producer Danger Mouse on Dark Night of the Soul, a collection of songs with a different guest vocalist--Iggy Pop, movie director David Lynch, Suzanne Vega, Julian Casablancas of the Strokes, Vic Chesnutt--on each track. He also released an album with the Austrian electronic composer Christian Fennesz, In the Fishtank, in 2009. Linkous performed at the Big Ears festival in Knoxville with Fennesz in February 2009. AC Entertainment's Ashley Capps, who organized the Big Ears festival, said on the Knox Blab message board that Linkous had been interested in moving to Knoxville since the festival.

"He had actually moved there," wrote his manager, Shelby Meade, in an e-mail on Monday. "The studio was moved there on Friday. He loved Knoxville and was happy with all the friends and support he found there."

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