Mike Starr (April 4, 1966 – March 8, 2011), former bassist of the highly influential grunge act Alice in Chains, was found dead in his Salt Lake City home on Tuesday, March 8. He was 44 years old.
According to The Deseret News, Starr’s roommate last saw him alive at around 7 a.m. that morning. At about 1:45 a.m. the same day, the roommate, unidentified as of press time, returned home and discovered Starr dead in his bedroom. Pat Reavy of the The Deseret News indicated that while there was no obvious cause of death at the scene, the roommate reported that Starr had been mixing methadone, a synthetic opiod, and anxiety medication. Toxicology tests, which would confirm drug overdose as a cause of death, have not yet been completed.
According to an article on Examiner.com, Starr’s body was found at 1986 South Richards Street, in a neighborhood near Salt Lake City’s downtown area. While Starr’s final stomping grounds showed obvious signs of current gentrification, the neighborhood was characterized by small, worn homes, adjacent to the Trax railways. Starr’s neighbors, perhaps weary from the events of the day and the attention it has brought their block, seemed reluctant to speak on the subject, some of them ignoring our reporters, despite clear signs of being at home.
Starr founded Alice in Chains in 1987 along with vocalist Layne Staley, guitarist Jerry Cantrell and drummer Sean Kinney. The bassist stayed with the group until 1993, when he departed from the band midway through a tour supporting the band’s landmark album Dirt. In 2010, while on the VH1 program Celebrity Rehab, Starr revealed that his split with the group was caused largely by his addiction to heroin.
Starr was arrested in Salt Lake City last month when, during a routine traffic stop, police discovered that the musician was in illegal possession of prescription painkillers. Travis Meeks of the acoustic post-grunge outfit Days of the New was driving the vehicle at the time. Starr and Meeks, who has also struggled with drug addiction, were planning a collaboration at the time.
If toxicology confirms that Starr did in fact lethally mix medications, he will be the second member of Alice in Chains to die of a drug overdose. In 2002, the body of vocalist Layne Staley was found in Seattle amid a small stash of cocaine and various drug paraphernalia. The cause of death was determined to be a “speedball” – a mixture of heroin and cocaine.
Starr’s roommate and family could not be reached for comment.