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Mark Linkous, at 47; songwriter led Sparklehorse

Mark Linkous, singer-songwriter for Sparklehorse, was popular in the indie music scene with a unique sound that was engaging, ethereal, and hauntingly beautiful. Mark Linkous, singer-songwriter for Sparklehorse, was popular in the indie music scene with a unique sound that was engaging, ethereal, and hauntingly beautiful. (Danny Clinch/Capitol Records)
By Chris Talbott
Associated Press / March 9, 2010

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NASHVILLE - Mark Linkous, the singer-songwriter who released his music under the band name Sparklehorse, has died after shooting himself in the chest in Tennessee. He was 47.

Darrell DeBusk, spokesman for the Knoxville police, said Mr. Linkous shot himself outside a friend’s house about 1:20 p.m. Saturday with his own rifle. DeBusk said Mr. Linkous was staying with friends and became upset after receiving a text message.

Mr. Linkous’s most recent work included collaborations with producer Danger Mouse and musician Christian Fennesz. He was working on the follow-up to 2006’s “Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain’’ at the time of his death.

Mr. Linkous was popular in the indie music scene with a unique sound that was engaging, ethereal, and hauntingly beautiful.

News of his death spread quickly on the Internet and was met with shock and sadness.

Radiohead bassist Colin Greenwood said on his blog that he first met Mr. Linkous when Sparklehorse served as the opening act for the “OK Computer’’ tour in Europe.

“His first two records were very important to me, and I carried his music from the tour into my life, and my friends’ lives too,’’ Greenwood wrote. “. . . Mark wrote and played some beautiful music, and we’re lucky to have it.’’

DeBusk said Mr. Linkous left no suicide note. The North Carolina-based artist was moving to Knoxville and staying with two friends, who told police that he was drinking and became upset after texting with an unknown person.

After saying he did not want to talk about what was upsetting him, the friends said Mr. Linkous went upstairs for a short time and then left the house through a back door. A witness saw him sit down nearby, take out his rifle, place it against his chest, and pull the trigger.

Mr. Linkous’s body was taken to the Knox County medical examiner, but it was unclear whether an autopsy will be performed, DeBusk said.

Mr. Linkous was a popular collaborator and respected artist who was a festival favorite. His highly anticipated album with Danger Mouse, “Dark Night of the Soul,’’ had been held up by legal issues but was cleared for release soon. Filmmaker David Lynch recently released a companion book of photographs.

The artist’s earlier albums included “Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot,’’ “Good Morning Spider,’’ and “It’s a Wonderful Life,’’ which featured contributions from Tom Waits and P.J. Harvey.

Mr. Linkous’s manager, Shelby Meade, released a statement from his family: “We are thankful for his time with us and will hold him forever in our hearts. May his journey be peaceful, happy, and free. There’s a heaven, and there’s a star for you.’’