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Music

Watch rare footage of Screaming Trees performing 'No Dollar Bill' in 1992

@TylerGolsen

With Mark Lanegan’s untimely passing on Tuesday, the world is beginning to see just how big of an effect Lanegan had on the world of rock music. From his collaborations with Greg Dulli and Isobel Campbell to his tenure in bands like Queens of the Stone Age and Mad Season, Lanegan was constantly lurking in the shadows of hard rock without ever truly getting the proper credit. But it’s his work with Screaming Trees that will make Lanegan eternal.

Formed in the mid-1980s with brothers Gary Lee and Van Conner, Screaming Trees created a uniquely blissed-out version of what would eventually be labelled as “grunge”. While groups like Melvins were getting heavily into sludge and Green River were leaning heavily on their punk roots, Screaming Trees were willing to let their eclectic influences show. Equally adept at slow folk, souped-up rock, and psychedelic punk, Screaming Trees laid the groundwork for some of their contemporaries to take over the music world in the early ’90s.

In the major label gold rush that decided on Seattle by 1990, Screaming Trees were picked up by Epic Records. Could it be possible for Screaming Trees to have replicated the success of bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam? Absolutely not. Screaming Trees were just too bizarre, too uniquely ingrained outside of the world of pop music, and too idiosyncratic to pick up major followings, even if every grunge vocalist seemed like they were doing a bad imitation of Lanegan’s signature growl.

Still, 1992’s Sweet Oblivion was accessible enough to get them some mainstream exposure. ‘Nearly Lost You’ was featured on the Singles soundtrack, the video gained some traction on MTV, and it looked like maybe this strange group of folk-rock lumberjacks really could muscle their way into the mainstream after all.

But it wasn’t meant to be: the major label push was something that Screaming Trees actively fought against, and after completing the tour for Sweet Oblivion, the group took an extended hiatus as Lanegan once again released solo albums and took part in collaborations. Four years later saw the release of Dust, but Screaming Trees were even more out of place in the post-grunge wasteland of 1996 than they were during the genre’s heyday of 1992.

The group took another hiatus, and when attempts to get labels interested in another album failed, the group broke up in 2000. Lanegan went back to his solo career and accepted an offer from former Screaming Trees touring guitarist Josh Homme to join his new band, Queens of the Stone Age.

Check out Lanegan and Screaming Trees perform ‘No Dollar Bill’ from Sweet Oblivion in 1992 down below.