On his blog, “You And What Army,” Michael Azerrad lays to rest the drug rumors regarding the death of the man behind Morphine, Mark Sandman.
Morphine singer-bassist Mark Sandman died of cardiac arrest onstage in Palestrina, Italy, on July 3, 1999. And that’s pretty much everything almost anybody knows about the circumstances of his death. None of the accounts of the incident ever explained how such a thing could have happened to a vital 46-year-old man. And so rumors started.
In light of the fact that there wasn’t any official word on why it happened, and the band, friends and family were too grief-stricken to talk, any explanation seemed to be fair game. Maybe it was because Sandman was a rock musician, maybe because of his preternaturally laconic manner, maybe it was simply because his band was called Morphine, but some people jumped to the conclusion that drugs were involved. If so, cocaine would be a good guess — too much and it stops your heart. Many musicians have died of cocaine-related heart attacks: the Pretenders’ James Honeyman-Scott, soul giant David Ruffin, Quiet Riot singer Kevin DuBrow, the Who’s bassist John Entwistle, and on and on. You could probably throw in comedians Chris Farley and Mitch Hedberg too. It was an educated guess, but it was only that — a guess.
In the course of reviewing the upcoming documentary, Cure for Pain: The Mark Sandman Story, I noted that the otherwise fine film doesn’t answer the most basic question surrounding Sandman’s demise, namely, why did it happen? A work of long-form journalism about a man’s life should surely be a little more illuminating about his death. It didn’t address, much less refute, the rumors. I’ve since been in touch with Sandman’s former girlfriend Sabine Hrechdakian, who’s a friend of mine, and his former bandmate Dana Colley. They’re keen to set the record straight, so I offered to tell their story.”
Read the entire story by clicking here.
On a personal note, Mark and I came to know each other back in the eighties and while I shared an occasional drink with him I never saw or knew of Mark doing drugs. I’d always hoped his sudden death wasn’t drug-related. Azerrad makes a compelling case that it was not.
Previously on DM: Mark Sandman’s Cure For Pain