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Michael Christopher "Mike" Starr (April 4, 1966 – March 8, 2011) was an American musician, best known as the original bassist in Alice In Chains, with whom he played from the band's formation in 1987 until 1993.
In 1983, Starr formed the heavy metal band SATO, his first group of note. They are best known for the song "Leather Warriors", which appeared on Northwest Metalfest, a compilation album featuring various metal acts released in 1984 by local Seattle label Ground Zero Records. Starr briefly joined another band by the name of Gypsy Rose, which included early Alice N' Chains producer Tim Branom on lead vocals and his future bandmate Jerry Cantrell on guitar. Starr and Cantrell left Gypsy Rose and the two of them began working together to form a new band. First, they contacted drummer Sean Kinney, who coincidentally was dating Starr's sister Melinda at that time and had exchanged phone numbers with Cantrell's roommate Layne Staley. Then the trio began staging what Cantrell and Kinney later said were fake auditions in order to coax Staley into joining their band. Eventually, Staley quit the other bands he was performing with at that time and joined their band as well.
This band gained attention in the Seattle area playing under several different monikers before they eventually settled on the name Alice in Chains, which they had taken from Staley's previous band Alice N' Chains. The band was later signed to a record deal with Columbia Records and enjoyed extensive success via record sales and radio play in the grunge rock movement of the early 1990s. Starr was with the group for the Facelift and Dirt albums and the Sap EP. He was most often seen playing several variations of a Spector NS-2 bass guitar through an Ampeg SVT all-tube head and Ampeg 8x10" speaker cabinets.
Starr departed the group while it was touring behind the album Dirt. According to former singer Layne Staley, in a Rolling Stone article from February 1994, Starr's departure from Alice in Chains stemmed from "just a difference in priorities. We wanted to continue intense touring and press, Mike was ready to go home." Starr, however, mentioned on an episode of Celebrity Rehab that he was kicked out of the band due to his budding drug addiction. Starr later was hired to play bass for the band Sun Red Sun, which featured Ray Gillen and Bobby Rondinelli, both former members of Black Sabbath. The project was cut short by Gillen's death in 1993.
In 2010, Starr was reported to be working with his new band, which included touring with the band Days of the New. This was cut short, however, with his sudden death.
On March 8, 2011, at 1:42pm, police were called to a home in Salt Lake City where they found 44-year-old Starr's body. A private memorial was held for Starr at Experience Music Project in Seattle on March 20, 2011. There were roughly 400 people in attendance, including former bandmates Jerry Cantrell and Sean Kinney. Dr. Drew Pinsky has said that Starr's death was the result of "a prescription-drug overdose." Drug-addiction counselor Bob Forrest has described Starr and fellow Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew alum Jeff Conaway (also now deceased) as having "such severe addictions."