Mark Sandman was an interesting and mysterious guy. He worked a number of blue-collar jobs, including construction, commercial fishing and driving a cab. He was stabbed and robbed as a cab driver, a traumatic incident that had a lasting effect on him for the rest of his life. The untimely deaths of his two brothers also influenced his life and creativity.
In 1989, Mark formed the band Morphine, while still a member of the band Treat Her Right. As Morphine’s leader, main songwriter and bassist, he built a variety of custom basses, including a two-string slide version, a three-string slide version and a unitar, with just a single string. His murky playing coupled with saxophonists Dana Colley provided Morphine with its signature “low rock” sound. His style has been acknowledged as an influence on Primus’ Les Claypool and Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme.
Mark was very quiet about his private life, leading fans to speculate that his song lyrics were autobiographical. He was cagey and evasive during interviews, even keeping things, like his true age, from the press.
In 1999, during a concert in Italy, Mark collapsed on stage, suffering a fatal heart attack. An investigation attributed his death to stress and the high temperature inside the concert venue. Mark was 46. Morphine disbanded upon his death.