Mike Starr, the former Alice in Chains bass player who went public with his drug problems on the reality TV show “Celebrity Rehab,” was found dead in a Salt Lake City house Tuesday, nine years after the rock band’s singer died of an overdose. Starr was 44.
“There is nothing to indicate that this was foul play by another individual,” said a spokesman for the Salt Lake City Police Department. An autopsy was planned.
Starr was fired from Alice in Chains shortly after the release of its breakthrough 1992 album “Dirt,” which was packed with drug-related songs. In 1994, he was sentenced to 90 days in a Texas jail for stealing a piece of luggage at Houston Intercontinental Airport.
His former bandmates, with replacement bassist Mike Inez on board, enjoyed even greater success during the Seattle “grunge” movement. But singer Layne Staley’s drug battles put the brakes on the band in 1996. Staley was found dead at age 34 in Seattle in 2002.
Starr was possibly the last person to see Staley alive, and admitted to feeling deep guilt about not calling 911 after a sick Staley had warned him against it.
“I wish I hadn’t been high on benzodiazepine (an anti-anxiety sedative). I wouldn’t have just walked out the door,” a tearful Starr said on “Celebrity Rehab,” a VH1 reality show hosted by addiction medicine specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky.
Starr said later on Pinsky’s syndicated “Loveline” radio show that he felt “naked without Layne in this life. Still to this day, I don’t care … about them dismissing me from the band. I love Layne for the human being that he is. I just really miss him.”
Starr was unable to beat his demons despite the rehab stint. He was arrested in Salt Lake City three weeks ago on an outstanding warrant related to an earlier drug charge, and also was carrying unauthorized prescription medications.
The band’s surviving original members, guitarist Jerry Cantrell and drummer Sean Kinney, said in a statement on their website that they were mourning the loss of their friend and requested privacy.