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Craig Lorentson.

By chance, I just learned moments ago that Craig Lorentson passed away on June 4th. Craig was the singer for Lowlife, one of my favorite bands of all time. He was 44 years old.

I was introduced to Lowlife in the early ’90s via a mixed tape from my ex. “Permanent Sleep” and “Marjory’s Dream” were the first songs I ever heard, and I was instantly smitten. Craig’s deep, melting voice and Will Heggie’s layered basses (also heard on the brilliant, early releases from the Cocteau Twins) were the stuff of dreams. Half of the time I couldn’t understand what Craig was singing, but no matter. The intensity of emotion in his voice and the dark atmosphere of the music were enough. Learning the correct lyrics years later only cemented my admiration for Craig’s skills as a songwriter and vocalist.

As is the case with many bands who “never obtained mainstream popularity,” the quest to find recordings and news and video—especially pre-internet-as-we-know-it—became obsessive. For years, no trip to a used record store was complete without time spent flipping through the “L”s in search of an elusive album or EP. If I ever happened to chance upon someone who had even heard of Lowlife, it was an exciting day. (I think this happened three times, if that.) Years later, the ex who introduced me to the band became their webmaster.

Lowlife’s relative obscurity has always frustrated me. I wish they would have kept on making music together, kept playing shows all over the world, and become just a little bit more famous. The music industry is not a fair one, though, and massive success was not in the cards for Lowlife. I encourage you to take a little time to seek out their music, though—if you like The Chameleons or The Cure or And Also the Trees or Joy Division/New Order or Interpol or Cocteau Twins or…well, you get the picture…you are likely to fall in love with Lowlife, and with Craig Lorentson’s voice.

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22 Comments

  • Reply lori September 6, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    I’m unfortunately part of the masses that had not heard of Lowlife, but thanks for sharing–even though it’s under sad circumstances. You’re absolutely right that if you love many of the bands you listed, then you will find Lowlife to be positively divine. Now, I’m off to track down more of their music.

  • Reply Jeremy September 7, 2010 at 11:03 am

    I totally love the Chameleons so this is fantastic. Thanks so much for the introduction Anna. It’s funny how you can miss gems like this when you listen to so much different stuff. Can’t wait to add them to my record hunting list.

    Just got into the Monochrome Set recently, been having fun discovering these late 80s early 90s bands.

  • Reply kas September 7, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    RIP Craig you will be sorely missed god bless

  • Reply Anna at D16 September 7, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Craig’s obituary, as printed a local Grangemouth paper:

    Craig Lorentson, frontman of popular alternative rockers Lowlife, passed away in hospital at the age of 44 last Friday after a period of liver and kidney problems. Born in Grangemouth, his rise to fame began in the mid-1980s, amid the demise of local psychobilly outfit Dead Neighbours. Springing from the ashes of that band, Lowlife went on to record a string of critically acclaimed albums including Permanent Sleep (1986), Diminuendo (1987), Godhead (1989), San Antorium (1991), and Gush (1995). They played gigs all over the world before splitting in 1997.

  • Reply Cath September 8, 2010 at 4:39 am

    Hmmm…also quite ‘Echo & The Bunnymen’. I likey!

  • Reply nicole September 25, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Really amazing. Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply Grumble Girl September 26, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    So, so, so goooooood… wow. Another gone too soon. Le sigh.

  • Reply Richard Weir September 29, 2010 at 7:18 am

    Only found out about Craig’s death today, via the PermanentSleep.com message board, which I hadn’t been on for some time. A band whose music I loved deeply, Craig’s lyrics were dark, intelligent and striking, the music was as perfect as you could ask for.

    R.I.P. Craig.

  • Reply Jeffrey Prosser October 8, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Craig’s work makes my life easier to live. Godspeed.

  • Reply Paul October 25, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    I have only today discovered that Craig died.

    I am proud to say that I also remember Lowlife. I originally fell in love with the track ‘Ramified’ from their ‘Swirl It Swings’ 12″ EP after hearing it shortly after its release (albeit I can’t for the life of me recall where I first discovered their music).

    It’s a real tragedy that Craig has died – particularly at such a young age. I truly hope he didn’t suffer.

  • Reply Merrily November 4, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    I learned early last month that Craig died and I was so, so sad. I’ve had an irrational hope that they would come and tour America and I could geek out center-stage.

    I was introduced to them at about 2001 or so. A dj friend of mine had me sit in the center of the dance floor of the lovely club we used to frequent and he said he wanted me to hear this band that he thought I would like.

    He played “A Sullen Sky” for me and I was hooked. I was going to London that fall for a trip and I too searched in vain for albums by Lowlife, a lot of the (young) record store clerks gave me blank stares or thought I was talking about a hip-hop band.

    Of course when the albums we re-released I bought them all and they are always on rotation.

    After I learned of Craig’s passing I wore my Lowlife t-shirt (purchased from Permanent Sleep) and black that day.

    This is the first non Permanent Sleep post that I happened on while searching for the lyrics to “Ramified”.

    • Reply lee lorentson April 20, 2015 at 8:50 pm

      I’m Craigs son your words are very kind

  • Reply Etienne February 25, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Craig’s voice is one of the beautifulest voices I have heard! He will be missed.

    “I dont mean to ignore you
    Or dislike or deplore you
    But I guess im still a so called friend

    But times and people change
    And I find it kind of strange
    To hang around
    When the party is done”
    from song Licking One’s Wounds

  • Reply Andi August 16, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    Just passed Grangemouth the other day and wondered where Craig is now…, got into Lowlife only five years ago, but adored them straight away and bought all their records. A great loss! Still moved to tears!

  • Reply Rachel January 5, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Craig lived across the street from me for years, used to see him walking his Great Dane all the time.Iit’s only now that I know the full story about the band. I was ten years younger than him and didn’t move in the same social circle but my Dad went to all the local gigs…the music wasn’t really his cup of tea but he enjoyed watchin the chaos that usually ensued!!!

  • Reply Rucka Shadowz January 28, 2012 at 9:25 am

    I really want to know the lyrics for mother toungue is there anyway you can send them to me pretty please!!!! 🙂

  • Reply Kevin June 16, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    Lowlife…. what can I say that hasn’t already been said. I remember my first encounter of hearing Lowlife. I was shopping in Cameron Toll, Edinburgh, browsing through the music magazines in WH Smiths when this red cassette tape catches my eye, Free Cassette With This Mag. ‘Mmmm Depeche Mode, I’ll buy this to listen to in the car on the way home’. Listened to depeche mode then this track comes on. BOOM!!!!! Sultry guitar intro then….. BOOM! (again) Bass line kicks in. I actually remember stopping the car after the song had finished and thinking ‘Who The Feck Was That’. It was Ramified that was playing. After that first encounter I was hooked to the point of obsessed. Like the blogger I would hunt high and low for anything on them. I had never ever felt and I doubt I ever will feel a connection with a band as I did with Lowlife… They were MY band. The only sad thing was that I only got to see them three times, but I feel privileged that I seen them. They were a truly wonderful band and to this day, some 25 years on, they are still a big part of my musical life.
    I then stumbled upon the website ‘Permanent Sleep’. After a while I remembered that I had a video that I recorded off BBC2 FSD show. Two songs by Lowlife and three by The Silencers, so I got in touch with website owner asking him if he wanted it. He jumped at the thought but wondered how he could convert it from UK to USA (this was at the beginning of the internet), anyway I sent on to him (forget his name actually, think it was Eric) and he done it. They two songs!!!! Cool story eh!
    RIP Craig

  • Reply abdul gaffer October 27, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    thank you for sharing your experience and appreciation of lowlife. am listening to lowlife ramified rightnow and taking it all in, going through the motions as I write this sitting besides queens college campus. best of luck with all your endeavors. rest in peace Craig.

  • Reply martin murphy November 30, 2013 at 3:34 am

    Un recuerdo a Craig desde España.
    Lowlife Forever

  • Reply robert August 26, 2016 at 1:13 am

    San Francisco late 80’s’ Cafe flor’e’ chairs lodged upside down; the place is filled with pretension; the best looks; staring into java’ the sun sets’ softly’ in umbra’ and whats comin through the speakers’ Head Over Heels Cocteau twins’ explosions’ Tiny dinamine” reflections; as the tracks fades; I’m introduced the first time to the aching masculine beauty; Craig Lorenston’s pipes! I’m hooked; I’ mean at least I can sing along to the records; without feeling like’ a big fairy; like when I’m chirpin to Liz Fraser’s lilt’s’ I swear’ every track’ of lowlife’s catalog’ shifts and bends’ arch’s and swells’ like a raging sea’ crashing into channels of memory” my heart is saddened; to know; they are now only archaic’ souvenirs; of that specific; awakening in music’ 4adish; longings; solitary; shadows; of a tumultuous time.

  • Reply killchen February 15, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    beautiful words. beautiful man. mysterious in a way that barely exists these days…

  • Reply Luc September 26, 2018 at 10:01 am

    I adore Lowlife (and esp. the black album). Was a fan since the beginning. Even now in 2018, when I play their music I get emotional……..

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