The Boston-based alternative rock band Morphine ruled the big stage during 90s until the tragedy struck. Mark Sandman, the frontman, died ten years ago, on July 3, 1999. But, it was the kind of death that few rock legends have experienced. Mark was onstage, performing with powers, presenting the most ambitious album of his career, that the band just finished. His sudden death while performing on stage was a huge shock for the music world. His fellow friend and band member, Dana Colley remembers some of the stories from the beginning to the tragic end.
About starting the band, Colley said: “He started developing the two-string bass — it was a one-string bass at that time — and I got a hold of the baritone saxophone I’d been playing. I’d been playing tenor previously. When we jammed once in his apartment, the sound just sort of clicked. It was one of these ‘eureka’ moments, you know? It wasn’t anything we would have predicted.” Talking about making the guitar-less band in the middle of the grunge era, Colley says: “I can remember playing early on, at the height of grunge, and kind of jokingly saying at the end of the set that I think we’re the palate cleanser, like the sorbet between the sandwich of heavy guitars.”
He remebers: “The two-string slide bass, baritone saxophone, drum thing, oh yeah. For some reason, people were almost wanting to see the end of that, in a way. Like, OK, they’re gonna shoot the bottom of the barrel with this concept – still thinking it’s conceptual. That’s funny, no one ever asked a rock quartet the same question, ‘Another album with guitar, bass, drums?’ To me, (Morphine) is like a combination lock. You’ve got three numbers to choose from. But let me see you open up a combination lock you don’t know the number for. Let me see how many times it will take you to do that.”
But, when it comes to that particular concert in Italy, Dana Colley recalls: “I remember Mark saying, ‘I don’t want to tour. We’re over this. I want us to get closer as a band.’ Because we’d fragmented, I think, in many ways from Mark’s being pulled out west by Dreamworks. We were kind of pulling the wagons around a little bit. It was pretty intense. He went through the mill for sure.”
On that particular day of the concert, he remebers: “The next day, the temperature was very hot, it was about 100 degrees on the stage. Mark seemed ready to go. He was sitting at Billy’s drum kit, playing the bass drum and the hi-hat with both feet while playing his bass, waiting for us to come down to soundcheck. He was chomping at the bit, ready to play, with a big smile on his face.”
At the beginning of “Supersex,” the second song of their set, Colley explains: “we were doing the introduction, it’s kind of an open-string thing. I look over to my right, and I just see him, his knees buckle. He fell down, he fell back, with his bass on, and the whole place just came to a complete hush.” An ambulance took Mark Sandman to the nearest hospital, but he was soon pronounced dead of a heart attack. He was 46, having no history of heart trouble.
The Boston-based alternative rock band Morphine ruled the big stage during 90s until the tragedy struck. Mark Sandman, the frontman, died ten years ago, on July 3, 1999. But, it was the kind of death that few rock legends have experienced. Mark was onstage...