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Mike Starr, Alice in Chains bassist, dead at 44 in Salt Lake City


Mike Starr, the original bassist for Seattle metal band Alice in Chains who was found dead Tuesday in Salt Lake City, could well have arm-wrestled with Axl Rose and the members of Guns N’ Roses over who most deserved to call an album “Appetite for Destruction.”

Rose was a champion of the group’s debut album, “Facelift,” and when fame hit for the group, the members first reveled then struggled with all the fallout from all that had been laid at their feet.
Starr was friends with Aliice in Chains guitarist and songwriter Jerry Cantrell before the band formed in 1987 with singer Layne Staley and drummer Sean Kinney. But it didn’t take long before Starr reached overload. He quit the band around the time its second album, “Dirt,” was released, a collection that went on to sell more than 4 million copies and which chronicled the dark path the group seemed to be on.

Rolling Stone magazine described that album as "a sustained, unflinching meditation on heroin addiction." Times staff writer Mike Boehm wrote in 1993 that “ ‘Dirt’ scrapes bottom with a litany of complaints sung from a deep pit of despair, self-loathing and never-ending woe.”

Shortly after taking up the bass post in the band in 1993 after Starr left, new member Mike Inez told The Times, “We're four young guys on the road with the whole world by the balls. We're like a pack. Whatever we want, we get. We wake up and we're like, 'What do we want today?' Whether it's food or girls or drugs or whatever, everything is there for you."

Having suddenly vaulted to multiplatinum success, Cantrell said at the time, "It's a weird feeling to go from nobody to everybody. You're known on a two-dimensional level. People yank on your hair, not realizing you're a real person."

Of “Dirt,” Cantrell said, "It’s a dark album, but it's not meant to be a bummer. Those five songs on the second side, from 'Junkhead' to 'Angry Chair,' are in sequence because it tells a story. It starts out with a really young, naive attitude in 'Junkhead,' like drugs are great, sex is great, rock 'n' roll, yeah! Then as it progresses, there's a little bit of realization of what it's about . . . and that ain't what it's about."

Staley died of an overdose in 2002 at age 34. Starr in recent years took his battle with addiction to the airwaves as a participant in the third season of VH1’s reality TV show “Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew,” and spoke about shooting heroin with Staley and Nirvana's Kurt Cobain. When Cantrell decided to resurrect Alice in Chains for another go-round several years ago, he tapped Inez rather than Starr to be in the reformed group. A cause of death was not immediately reported.

-- Randy Lewis

Comments () | Archives (32)

Man, bummer. I was rooting for Mike Starr. RIP dude.


so sad about this man who tried to clean himself up on celebrity rehab but he was also so guilt ridden over his friends death that he set himself up on a course to die himself, rest well

Life is so short and the demon monster addiction has once again won, I wish that this did not have to be the end for Mike. He was a good soul but very guilt ridden over his friend and band mates death. I feel bad that rehab failed for him, may he rest in peace.

Mike's sentiment that he missed Layne so much hits home, bigger than life people that share the better part of themselves with everyone are difficult to be away from.

Prayers of Peace to his family. Sorry to hear this.

my heart goes out to all the familey , friends and fans . what a great lose for the music worl.
God bless you mr Starr u will be missed

Just the on-going litany of rock'r deaths. Society of dispare and depression covered by drug overdose. Sad so many have left life at it's peak. The antidote for dispare is www.watvnetwork.com hitting the world with sounds of life.

I gasped for air in disbelief when i heard of mike starr's untimely death. I had so much hope for him and fighting his addiction. I realli felt for him on celebrity rehab. He came a long way to become sober. This is just another example of how your next hit , might be your last. I will pray that God has mercy on him and finally say goodbye to 1 of the most Talented musicians Ever!

u will be missed mike . xoxoxoxoxo .

I was a very devote viewer of "Celebrity Rehab"...as strange as it may seem I felt connected to certain celebs...Mike Starr, being one of them...My prayers go out to the family...in their time of sorrow..."I love you Mr. Starr...goodbye...May you rest in peace...

Sadly we lost another of our rockers to carry the message of our music when the media largely ignores it in favor of Rap and Pop. Oddly, the 40-something Club is the new 27-Club

Hi, I'm from Australia and I just dropped by to read this article and I noticed a comment about ga ga. Hey you guys ...rename her GA GARBAGE (I retain rights over the title however because I made it up just for him/her ...err what ever the hell 'it' is) . That way you can retain some respect on the music world front. At least then we'll KNOW you're joking about presenting her as a 'talent' - as of course I know you are, but sadly, the latest generation are a bit slow. They think your SERIOUS!!! Ha ha ha!!!

It's so sad. I was so proud to see Mike coming back on Rehab. Just two days before the one year anniversary of Corey Haim, and Mike goes home. Sending my prayers to the family. Another rock n roll tragedy...Rest peacefully.

lord why did he this? it's such a tragic ending of a beautiful person with soooo much to live for. my prayer is with the family.all i can say he just couldn't hang on.

I also felt for Mike on celebrity rehab, you seem to attach yorself to some and Mike was one of those people you could really care for. I am so hurt for him and his family that he didn't make it. I was so sure he would. Mike will be missed, not only for his larger than life personality but for his love of his family and friends.

Met Mike in 96 out in Hollywood. Wish I could have jammed with him many more times. R.I.P. friend.

Such a reality check for people like me who are recovering heroin addicts..the drugs don't care who you are, they will take you in the end, everytime. I adored Mike on Celebrity Rehab, for his gracious peraonality and wanting to overcome his addiction..so sad to hear he gave in, in the end..rip Mike..RIP.

R.I.P Brother

RIP Mike Starr. Take note Charlie Sheen.

May you rest in peace mike, say hi to Layne for me, ok? I won't forget about you. Your family and those who loved you are in my thoughts. Godspeed.

I hope he's at peace with Layne Staley. I wish this didn't happen. I thought he was getting better and that it was gonna stick.

RIP to another talented musician,how very sad to wake up and hear this news.Thoughts and prayers to his family and friends

R.I.P Mike.
My thought and prayers are with his family and friends.
Now he and Layne can be together again...

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