The death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman yesterday brought me to thinking about the countless tortured souls in the dark shadows of their own creative genius that have left us too early. Hoffman (46) struggled with addiction throughout his career and always shied away from the limelight – seemingly uncomfortable with being recognized for his mastery of the craft.
Mark Linkous was similar in many ways. A gifted and innovative musician, Linkous was also tormented, struggling with depression for years and briefly paralyzed after a near-overdose of Valium and antidepressants. The near-overdose also destroyed his calf muscles and resulted in his use of leg braces to get around.
I saw his band Sparklehorse open for Son Volt in 1995 and was mesmerized. His music straddled the lines, never staying in one place long enough to necessitate a description.
Linkous committed suicide by shooting himself in the heart outside a friend’s house in Knoxville, Tennessee on March 6, 2010. He was 47 years old.