Alice In Chains ex-bassist Mike Starr dies at 44

Mike Starr, pictured here in 1991, has died at the age of 44
Mike Starr, pictured here in 1991, has died at the age of 44 (Image credit: John Atashian/CORBIS)

Bassist Mike Starr, a founding member of the band Alice In Chains, was found dead today (8 March) at a home in Salt Lake City, Utah, according to a report filed by TMZ. He was 44 years old.

According to the report, police were called to the house at 1:42pm and found controlled substances including Xanax and the painkiller Opana, along with Starr's body.

In 1987, Starr, guitarist Jerry Cantrell, vocalist Layne Staley and drummer Sean Kinney, came together to form Alice In Chains. The Seattle-based band signed to Columbia Records and released their debut album, Facelift, in 1990. That disc contained the hits Man In The Box and Sea Of Sorrow.

Although they saw themselves as a hard rock or heavy metal band, Alice In Chains became closely associated with the grunge/alternative rock scene that had exploded in the early '90s thanks to the success of Nirvana and Pearl Jam. In 1992, the group issued the album Dirt, which featured perhaps their biggest hit, the dark and chilling Would? With its placement on the soundtrack to the Cameron Crowe film Singles and an accompanying video that received heavy rotation on MTV, Would? broke Alice In Chains to the masses.

Starr left Alice In Chains in 1993. For years, his departure was never fully explained. Eventually, he admitted that he was kicked out of the band because of his drug use.

In 2002, Layne Staley, whose own drug addiction had forced the group into hiatus, died after taking a fatal mix of heroin and cocaine.

In 2009, Starr appeared on the VH1 show Celebrity Rehab. The program documented his recovery from heroin addiction. Last month, on 18 February, the bassist was arrested and jailed for alleged felony drug possession in Salt Lake City.

Joe Bosso

Joe is a freelance journalist who has, over the past few decades, interviewed hundreds of guitarists for Guitar WorldGuitar PlayerMusicRadar and Classic Rock. He is also a former editor of Guitar World, contributing writer for Guitar Aficionado and VP of A&R for Island Records. He’s an enthusiastic guitarist, but he’s nowhere near the likes of the people he interviews. Surprisingly, his skills are more suited to the drums. If you need a drummer for your Beatles tribute band, look him up.