Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Grungeobit: Mike Starr

Mike Starr, former bassist for Alice In Chains, has been found dead in Salt Lake City.

Born in Honolulu in 1966, a teenage Starr joined Seattle band Diamond Lie. Building a following in the North West, Diamond Lie became Alice In Chains and landed a deal with Colombia.

Originally Colombia thought they had a metal band on their books, but as Nirvana started to grow and grow, the executives gathered to have one of those "you know, if you squint a bit, this band are a bit grunge, aren't they?" meetings, and Alice In Chains suddenly found themselves with a massive marketing effort running in their favour.

Starr left the band just after the recording of Dirt - the album which would be their biggest. At the time, the standard lines about mutual agreement were trotted out; years later Starr would reveal that what everyone thought - he was sacked as a result of prodigious drug use - was, indeed, the case.

At the time, one of the myriad rock supergroups was coming together around the vision of former Anthrax singer's Al B. Romano. Black Sabbath ex Ray Gillen was also in, as was Bobby Rondinelli, who had already got stamps in his passport from Rainbow, Sabbath and the Blue Oyster Cult. Although active for only a year before the death of Ray Gillen, somehow the band managed to create enough material for four albums of varying essentialness.

The next appearance of Mike Starr was as a participant in poke-the-sick VH1 gameshow Celebrity Rehab. He was part of the third series of the programme last year. To the surprise of nobody, trying to fight a serious addiction in the context of light entertainment didn't work.

His body was found in a house in Salt Lake City yesterday. Mike Starr was 44; police say there is no evidence of foul play in his death.