Terrible news for all hard rock and heavy metal fans. Original bassist and founding member of Alice in Chains, Mike Starr, was found dead in a home in Salt Lake City, Utah at 1:42pm today, Tuesday, March 8.

 

Alice in Chains produced heart-wrenching and evocative songs about drug addiction throughout their career and were my favorite of the Big Four grunge bands that emerged in the early ’90’s. Their groundbreaking and sludgelike sound combined witht he soaring vocals of Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell won them legions of fans, critical praise and produced two hard rock/heavy metal masterpieces: Facelift and Dirt.

 

Former singer Layne Staley died in spring 2002 after overdosing on a mixture of heroin and cocaine, commonly known as a “speedball.” The group mounted a successful comeback with 2009’s Black Gives Way to Blue, which featured new vocalist William DuVall alongside guitarist Jerry Cantrell, drummer Sean Kinney and bassist Mike Inez.

Mike Starr was born April 4, 1966, in Honolulu. He rose to prominence in the Seattle scene as bassist for Diamond Lie, which

featured Cantrell and Kinney. Once Staley entered the fold, they changed their name to Alice in Chains and signed a major-label deal. Starr appears on the group’s debut album, Facelift, which produced the monster hit “Man in the Box,” and became a hard rock masterpiece. He’s also on the band’s follow-up EP release, Sap, and their second album, Dirt, which was released in September 1992.

Dirt is a hard rock classic too, with “Rooster” remaining a radio staple. “Would?” was featured in the movie “Singles,” which was set in the Seattle scene. “Down in a Hole” has been covered by Ryan Adams, Fuel and Demon Hunter. Songs like “Junkhead” dealt with heroin use head-on. The band Godsmack, whose sound owes much to Alice in Chains, took their name from track nine. Cantrell wrote the majority of the songs with some heavy contributions from Staley. Starr is credited as a co-writer on one track, “Rain When I Die.”

Starr left Alice in Chains while touring behind Dirt in 1993. Years later, he would reveal on “Celebrity Rehab” that his reason for leaving was his growing addiction to drugs. He briefly joined former Black Sabbath singer Ray Gillen in Sun Red Sun. Their self-titled debut was released in 1995, two years after Gillen died from AIDS-related complications.

Heroin addiction sent Starr to “Celebrity Rehab,” which was followed by a stint in the spin-off show “Sober House.” He showed up on one episode of the following season of “Celebrity Rehab,” celebrating more than six months of sobriety. He was arrested for possession by Salt Lake City police on February 18, 2011.

 

Mike’s dad told TMZ his son’s death is “a terrible shock and tragedy.”

View Alice in Chains videos featuring Mike Starr below: R.I.P. Michael Christopher Starr (April 4, 1966-March 8, 2011)

 

 

 

 

 

  

My personal favorite of the Big Four Seattle bands that emerged during the grunge movement of the early 90’s, Alice in Chains groundbreaking and sludgelike sound combined wiht the soaring vocals of Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell won legions of fans and produced two hard rock masterpieces: Facelift and Dirt.

 

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