Morphine's Mark Sandman
Collapses And Dies Onstage
July 6, 1999, 9:00 am PT
Mark Sandman, leader, singer/songwriter, and bassist of Boston-based noir jazz/blues-rock
trio Morphine, collapsed and died of a heart attack onstage in Rome on Saturday (July 3).
He was 46.
According to The Boston Globe, Sandman collapsed two songs into the band's set at a
three-day festival at the Giardini del Principe in Palestrina, just east of Rome. Attempts
to revive Sandman at the venue were unsuccessful and the singer later died in an ambulance
en route to the hospital.
According to band manager Deborah Klein of LMI Management, Sandman had no known health
problems. "We're devastated," she was quoted Sunday by The Associated Press.
"We dont even know what to say. We're all in shock."
Morphine was in the midst of a two-week European tour before heading back to the States,
where they were scheduled to kick off a 12-date U.S. jaunt in Denver on July 19.
Sandman first became nationally known as the leader of Treat Her Right, a modestly
successful Boston-based blues rock band in the late '80s. He then formed Morphine in 1991
with saxophonist Dana Colley and drummer Jerome Deupree (later replaced by current drummer
Morphine first introduced their unique, guitar-less mood rock on 1992's Good (Rykodisc),
which featured Sandman's unique two-string slide bass technique. The band was lauded
critically and on college radio over the course of five albums, of which the best known
were 1993's Cure for Pain and 1995's Yes. Morphine's most recent album was B-Sides and
Otherwise, a B-sides/rarities compilation released in 1997.
The band's major label debut, Like Swimming (DreamWorks), surfaced in 1997 as well.
Additionally, Rykodisc, per Sandman's request, has put together a live album, tentatively
titled Morphine Live, for release this fall. According to a spokesperson for the label,
the master recording for that release was just delivered to the label last week.
Sandman was also a big influence on former Presidents of the United
States of America leader Chris Ballew, who once played with Sandman in an informal trio
called Supergroup, and who learned Sandman's patented two-string bass style from him.
Private funeral services for friends and family of Sandman will be held in the Boston area
on Sunday (July 11), according to a Morphine spokesperson at HipShake Media, the
bands independent publicity firm.
In lieu of flowers, fans are being asked to make a donation to the just-instituted Mark
Sandman Music Education Fund, which will help to provide music education for students in
the Cambridge, Mass. Public school system. Donations should be sent to:
Cambridge, Mass, 02238.
-- Kevin Raub