Hailing originally from Newton, Massachusetts, Sandman moved to Boston in the 80's to put together his first band Treat Her Right. After three albums and a successful fanbase, he went on to create short-lived splinter groups. After disbanding THR, he broke into the 90's Boston music scene with Morphine. After much success both critically and financially, Morphine released five albums and compilations of b-sides and live performances.
During a performance July 3rd, 1999 in Palestrina, Italy, Mark Sandman collapsed during the band's second song. He was pronounced dead in the ambulance en route to the hospital. He death was caused by a massive heart attack. "La Escala de Sandman" (at the place of his death) is a staircase that was named in honor of him as well as the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Brookline in Cambridge, Massachusetts' Central Square.
His true age was never known to the public as he was a private person who did few interviews and refused to speak about his family and personal life.
A box-set of Sandman's rare and unreleased material was released on Hi-N-Dry Records which is run by Morphine's remaing members. Another collection was to be released, but due to several complications between Rykodisc and Warner Brothers it was never released.
The Mark Sandman Music Education Fund was created by his friends and family to support and encourage music in the children of the Boston and Cambridge area.