Editorial : Mike Starr Remembered

I remember when Layne Staley died.

I awoke to the earth moving, in a bed that was not my own. Some girl I met at work… details are fuzzy about her (I recall a birthday). But what got me up was, literally, an earthquake—a 5.1 in Au Sable Forks, NY, to be precise. I was motivated to return home and celebrate April 20 for its many lovely reasons (like Hitler’s birthday and the anniversary of Columbine). Well after no more than one exhale, Kurt Loder told me Staley was found dead, and my wind was fully knocked out.

Mike Starr is believed to be the last person to communicate with Layne, one of the things revealed on Celebrity Rehab, the last place most people saw Starr, back in 2009. Not me—I avoid that shit like the plague, but I heard he got clean through the program, and I share the sentiment of his former bandmates. I was bummed to hear of his recent arrest, then crushed about his death.

I had not heard from Mike Starr in years and I never knew about his next project, Sun Red Sun (the band was basically a no-starter), but I can barely quantify my love for Alice in Chains. Forgive us the Seattle adoration at MindOverMetal.org, but they’ve been a planned inductee in our ‘Archetypes’ for some time. Mike’s writing credits over the years included “It Ain’t Like That”, “Confusion” and “Rain When I Die” (skipping all segue attempts there)—but I actually have his heavy-lidded bedroom eyes burned in my memory above all else. They were strangely calming in the photo to the right, and for some reason, the place my 12-year-old eyes fell first (note: the vinyl back is displayed here, not the j-card from the tape to which I refer).

The cause of death for the 44-year-old Starr is still unknown; autopsy reports can take months sometimes. But I don’t wanna think about that right now. I just grabbed Facelift, Sap and Dirt off the racks… time to reacquaint. Hopefully he and Layne have both found peace. Rest easy, brothers.

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