From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Sparklehorse, Linkous, Transilvania live, Milano, Italy, 2007-05-22.jpg
Background information
OriginRichmond, Virginia, U.S.
GenresLo-fi, indie rock, alternative country, alternative rock, experimental
Years active1995–2010
Associated acts
Past membersMark Linkous
Scott Minor
  • Scott Fitzsimmons
  • Johnny Hott
  • Paul Watson

Sparklehorse was an American indie rock band from Richmond, Virginia, led by singer and multi-instrumentalist Mark Linkous. Sparklehorse was active from 1995 until Linkous' 2010 death. Prior to forming Sparklehorse, Linkous fronted local bands Johnson Family and Salt Chunk Mary. Only one song, "Someday I Will Treat You Good," survived from these earlier bands to be played by Sparklehorse. Linkous stated that he ultimately chose Sparklehorse for a name because the two words sounded good together and it could loosely be used as a metaphor for a motorcycle. At its inception, members of Sparklehorse included Paul Watson (banjo, cornet, lap steel and electric guitar), Scott Minor (drums, chord organ, banjo), Johnny Hott (Wurlitzer organ, percussion, backing vocals), and Scott Fitzsimmons (standup bass).


Sparklehorse's first album, Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot (1995), produced by Cracker frontman David Lowery (musician) who is credited as "David Charles" on the record, was a modest college radio success. In 1996, while touring Europe with Radiohead shortly after the album's release, Mark Linkous consumed a combination of anti-depressants, valium, alcohol, and heroin in a London hotel room.[1] Unconscious and with his legs pinned beneath him for almost fourteen hours, the resulting potassium build-up caused his heart to stop for several minutes after his body was lifted up. The ensuing surgery almost caused him to lose the use of both legs and as a result he needed to use a wheelchair for six months and he required dialysis for acute kidney failure.

Good Morning Spider (1998) was recorded following this incident. Critics[2] have conjectured that Linkous's brush with death inspired the sombre tone of the album, though Linkous stated that much of the material on GMS had already been written. One song that did result from it is "St. Mary", which is dedicated to the nurses at the eponymous hospital in Paddington where Linkous recuperated.

In 1999 Sparklehorse performed at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto.[3] 2001 saw the release of It's a Wonderful Life, featuring appearances by Tom Waits, PJ Harvey, Bob Rupe, Nina Persson and Dave Fridmann.[4] Whereas much of Vivadixie... and Spider were recorded solely by Linkous on his Virginia farm, the new album was a more collaborative work. Linkous expressed his satisfaction with the overall sound of It's a Wonderful Life, which was engineered by Joel Hamilton, while also claiming that he would have preferred to include more experimental and instrumental material.[5]

On September 25, 2006, Sparklehorse released their fourth album, Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain, collaborating with Danger Mouse, Christian Fennesz, and Steven Drozd. This album featured the radio release "Don't Take My Sunshine Away" and a remastered version of "Shade And Honey", which Linkous originally wrote for Alessandro Nivola to sing in the 2003 movie Laurel Canyon, as well as a virtually unchanged re-release of "Morning Hollow," the bonus track from It's a Wonderful Life.

In 2008, Sparklehorse recorded a cover of the song "Jack's Obsession," from Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas for the official compilation album Nightmare Revisited.

In 2009, Sparklehorse teamed up with Danger Mouse and David Lynch in the project Dark Night of the Soul. Corliss et al. (2010) describe Dark Night of the Soul as “spooky, beautiful, (and)… bittersweet…considering Linkous’ untimely death.”[6]

In 2009, Linkous teamed up with electronic ambient-music artist Christian Fennesz to create In the Fishtank 15, a wafting album EP of experimentation and dreamy atmospherics. The last four live shows, Linkous did together with Fennesz during a European tour that was held during October 2009.

Linkous died by suicide in Knoxville, Tennessee, on March 6, 2010.[7]


Studio albums[edit]




  • "Spirit Ditch" / "Waiting for Nothing" (7", 1995, US)
  • "Hammering the Cramps" / "Too Late" (7", 1995, US)
  • "Someday I Will Treat You Good" / "Rainmaker" (7", February 1996, US Modern Rock No. 35[9])
  • "Someday I Will Treat You Good" / "London" / "In The Dry" (7" & CD, February 1996, UK)
  • "Hammering the Cramps" / "Spirit Ditch" / "Dead Opera Star" / "Midget In A Junkyard" (7" & CD, April 1996)
  • "Rainmaker" / "I Almost Lost My Mind" / "Intermission" / "Homecoming Queen (Live On KCRW)" / "Gasoline Horseys (Live On KCRW)" (7" & 2x CDs, August 1996, UK No. 61)
  • "Come On In" / "Blind Rabbit Choir" (7", February 1998, US)
  • "Maria's Little Elbows" / "Painbirds" / "Wish You Were Here" (with Thom Yorke) (Pink Floyd cover) / "Haint" (CD, July 1998)
  • "Sick of Goodbyes" / "Good Morning Spider (BBC Radio 1 Evening Session)" (7", October 1998, UK No. 57)
  • "Sick of Goodbyes" / "Happy Place" / "Happy Pig (BBC Radio 1 Evening Session)" / "Shot A Dog" / "Gasoline Horseys (Live)" (2x CDs, October 1998, UK No. 57)
  • "Gold Day" / "Heloise" / "Devil's New" / Maxine" (CD, July 2001)
  • "Don't Take My Sunshine Away" / "Ghost In The Sky" / "Knives of Summertime" (CD, 4 September 2006)
  • "Don't Take My Sunshine Away" / "Galveston" (Jimmy Webb/Glen Campbell cover) (7", 4 September 2006)
  • "Ghost in the Sky" / "Marigold" (7", 11 September 2006)
  • "Knives of Summertime" / "Caroline" (7", 18 September 2006, US)

Various artists compilations[edit]

Guest appearances on Cracker tracks[edit]


  • Southern Man: Sparklehorse (1998, VPRO, 50mins)[10]
  • This is Sparklehorse (2019, Seven & Seven, 90mins)[11]


In March 2020, Spin (magazine) stated that Linkous was more respected by his peers, such as PJ Harvey, Nina Persson and Tom Waits; than recognized by the record-buying public.[12]


  1. ^ HARP Magazine Archived 2006-10-31 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Jonze, Tim (8 March 2010). "Sparklehorse took the ugly and made it beautiful". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-06-01.
  3. ^ "Live Reviews: Sparklehorse/Varnaline April 13, 1999 The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto". Chart Attack, review by Chris Burland
  4. ^ "CD REVIEWS: Bif Naked, System Of A Down, Zeke and many more". Chart Attack, September 04, 2001 By: Debbie Bento, Jenny Yuen
  5. ^ Laurence, Alexander. "The portable-infinite: Sparklehorse 2002 interview (Mark Linkous RIP)". Retrieved 2010-05-01.
  6. ^ Corliss, R.; Duerr, C.; Grossman, L.; Morrisson, T.; Zoglin, R. (2010). "Hitlist". Time. 176: 63.
  7. ^ Sisario, Ben (March 7, 2010). The Singer-Songwriter Known as Sparklehorse is Dead at 47. The New York Times
  8. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 518. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  9. ^ "Sparklehorse > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". allmusic. 2010-03-06. Retrieved 2010-05-01.
  10. ^ "Een eigenzinnige Southerner die met het stadsleven niet zo veel op heeft - Sparklehorse : Lola da Musica - Southern Man: Sparklehorse". VPRO (in Dutch). Retrieved 2020-04-17.
  11. ^ "This is Sparklehorse". Retrieved 2020-04-17.
  12. ^ "Remembering Sparklehorse's Mark Linkous 10 Years Later". Spin. 2020-03-05. Retrieved 2020-04-17.

External links[edit]