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R.I.P. Talk Talk frontman Mark Hollis

Photo: Martyn Goodacre (Getty Images)

Mark Hollis, the Talk Talk frontman behind hit singles like “It’s My Life” and “Life’s What You Make It,” has died. Hollis’ longtime manager, Keith Aspden, confirmed to Pitchfork on Tuesday morning that he died following a short illness. He was 64.

Hollis, along with bandmates Lee Harris and Paul Webb, made a splash on the U.K. charts with 1982s The Party’s Over and earned international acclaim with the release of 1984s It’s My Life. As the years went on, the band’s synth-pop began to incorporate complex shades of ambient, jazz, and classical influences, resulting in challenging, satisfying albums like 1986s The Colour of Spring and 1988s Spirit Of Eden. Unceremoniously, Talk Talk split following 1991s Laughing Stock, and it was seven years before Hollis would release his lone, self-titled solo album.


A self-described “difficult geezer,” Hollis was often hostile towards press, saying that he wouldn’t “play that game” of handshaking and hobnobbing. He was driven, he said, not by money, but by the need to create “increasingly personal” music. “Money is not a worry,” he told Q in 1988. “I’ve got all the money I need.” After flunking out of college, where he was studying child psychology, Hollis spent several years in a punk band, the Reaction, before starting Talk Talk.

Hollis’ decision to step away from music was seemingly motivated by his family. “I choose for my family,” he told Dutch magazine Music Minded in 1998. “Maybe that others are capable of doing it, but I can’t go on tour and be a good dad at the same time.”

Hollis popped up occasionally following his solo album. He guested on Unkle’s Psyence Fiction, but later asked to have his name removed from the credits. He also helped with arrangements on Swedish singer Anja Garbarek’s 2001 album Smiling & Waving, and also, in 2012, shared a piece of incidental instrumental music for the Starz series Boss.

Tributes to the singer, including one from Talk Talk’s Webb, have hit social media when rumors of his death began swirling on Monday.



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Randall Colburn

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.