Mark Hollis (musician)

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Mark Hollis
Mark Hollis in 1991
Background information
Birth nameMark David Hollis
Born (1955-01-04) 4 January 1955 (age 64)
OriginTottenham, London, England
GenresNew wave, synthpop, art rock, post-rock, folk, jazz, ambient
Occupation(s)Musician, singer-songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, piano
Years active1977–1998, 2012
Associated actsTalk Talk, Unkle, Anja Garbarek

Mark David Hollis (born 4 January 1955) is an English musician and singer-songwriter. He achieved commercial success in the 1980s as a singer with the synthpop/post-rock band Talk Talk. Since the release of his 1998 debut solo album, Hollis has largely retired from the recording industry.[1]


Early career[edit]

Hollis was born in Tottenham, London. He is the younger brother of Ed Hollis, a disc jockey and producer who managed bands such as Eddie and the Hot Rods.[citation needed]

Hollis moved to Muswell Hill at the age of 18, and originally planned to become a child psychologist. In 1975, however, he left university to relocate to London. Hollis subsequently worked as a laboratory technician. He said: "I could never wait to get home and start writing songs and lyrics," he said. "All day long I'd be jotting ideas down on bits of paper and just waiting for the moment when I could put it all down on tape!" He had a good introduction to the music industry through his older brother. "He'd managed pop groups and I watched it all at work, and it was all very exciting."[citation needed]

It started to come to fruition when he formed a band called "The Reaction". In 1977, "The Reaction" recorded a demo for Island Records; among the tracks was a Hollis original titled "Talk Talk Talk Talk" which later surfaced on the Beggars Banquet Records punk compilation Streets. After just one single, 1978's "I Can't Resist", The Reaction disbanded. Through his brother, Hollis was introduced to musicians Paul Webb, Lee Harris and Simon Brenner, with whom he formed Talk Talk in 1981, soon signing to the EMI label.[citation needed]

Talk Talk[edit]

Hollis is most famous as the lead singer and primary songwriter of the band Talk Talk, and was praised for his "always remarkable voice."[2] He, along with Talk Talk's producer Tim Friese-Greene, took the lead in evolving the band's style from New Romantic into what later became known as post-rock.

Solo work[edit]

In 1998, he released an eponymous solo debut album, Mark Hollis,[3] and then, according to a 2008 article in The Guardian, retired from music; he briefly participated in occasional musical projects, including playing melodica and bass guitar on Anja Garbarek's 2001 album Smiling & Waving, as well as producing it.[4][1] He has stated about his decision to retire from performing, "I choose for my family. Maybe others are capable of doing it, but I can't go on tour and be a good dad at the same time."[5] Despite Hollis' absence from the public eye, he continues to be mentioned in the music press as an example of an artist who refused to sacrifice his artistic ambition for commercial success and as a yardstick for current artists.[6][7][8]

In 2004, Hollis resurfaced briefly to receive a Broadcast Music Inc. Award for having written "It's My Life".[9] His withdrawal from the public continues to fascinate music critics.[1][10] By the time his solo album was released Hollis had moved back from the countryside to London, to provide his two sons with a more cosmopolitan environment.[11]

In 2012, a piece of specially commissioned music, entitled "ARB Section 1", was used in the television series Boss.[12]


Solo albums[edit]


  • Hollis played the solo track 'Piano' from the 1998 minimalist album AV 1, by Phill Brown and Dave Allinson, under the pseudonym John Cope, which was later included on the 2001 Talk Talk compilation album Missing Pieces.[citation needed]
  • Hollis played piano on and co-wrote the track "Chaos" on the 1998 trip hop album Psyence Fiction by Unkle. (He later asked for his name to be removed from the album credits.)[citation needed]
  • Hollis produced and arranged two tracks ("The Gown" and "Big Mouth") on Anja Garbarek's 2001 album Smiling & Waving.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c McGee, Alan (9 April 2008). "Wherefore art thou Mark Hollis?". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  2. ^ Gilbert, Ruth (23 January 1989). "Hotline: Music (Spirit of Eden)". New York Magazine. Retrieved 27 June 2009.
  3. ^ "A record that floors me each time." Parkes, Jason A. (12 May 2007). "Rev. of Mark Hollis, Mark Hollis". Julian Cope Presents Head Heritage. Retrieved 27 June 2009.
  4. ^ Mark Hollis. "Mark Hollis | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 24 July 2014.
  5. ^ "Interview :: paul's talk talk pages – Fansite dedicated to Talk Talk". 9 October 2009. Archived from the original on 9 October 2009. Retrieved 24 July 2014.
  6. ^ Aizlewood, John (18 November 2002). "Why Ashcroft is missing Verve". Evening Standard.
  7. ^ Schmickl, Gerald (14 December 2001). "Rev. of Talk Talk, Missing Pieces". Wiener Zeitung. Retrieved 27 June 2009.
  8. ^ Lees, Alasdair (19 September 2008). "Shearwater, Bush Hall, London". The Independent. Retrieved 27 June 2009.
  9. ^ "'It's My Life' Writer Receives London Award | News". 19 October 2004. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
  10. ^ Masi, Bruno (18 March 2006). "Retour sur la planète Merz". Libération. Retrieved 27 June 2009.
  11. ^ In't Veld, Holger; Stefan Weber (trans.). "Mark Hollis Interview: The path over the burnt bridge". Subadio. Archived from the original on 27 April 2016. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
  12. ^ Talk Talk's Mark Hollis Resurfaces With New Music for the Kelsey Grammer TV Show "Boss" Retrieved 1 September 2012.