“You can’t understand a user’s mind
But try, with your books and degrees
If you let yourself go and opened your mind
I’ll bet you’ll be doing like me
And it ain’t so bad.”
~ Alice in Chains
Junkhead: You Can’t Understand a User’s Mind
by Carson Abrir
“It ain’t so bad,” except now Alice in Chains rockers Mike Starr and Layne Staley are both dead. Both men suffered from severe drug addiction.
“Not like this, don’t leave like this,” were the last words Mike Starr remembered hearing from Layne Staley as he left him alone, sick, and suffering the day before Starr’s 36th birthday. Mike Starr never seemed to forgive himself for not calling 911 to get help for his friend. Layne Staley was 34 when he died.
Now Mike Starr is dead too. According to police, his body was found yesterday afternoon in a Salt Lake City home. Three weeks ago, Salt Lake City police arrested the original Alice in Chains bassist for illegal drug possession.
Dr. Drew Pinsky, who famously tried to cure Mike Starr of his drug addiction at the Pasadena Recovery Center two years ago in a story featured on VH1’s Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, responded via Twitter.
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“Devastating to hear of Mike Starr succumbing to his illness,” Dr. Drew Pinsky tweeted. “So very sad. Our prayers are with his family.”
Starr’s friends in Seattle say the talented musician’s death at the age of 44 has a lot to do with his family.
“My thoughts go out to his family, with the exception of his ‘father’ who used Mike for his royalty checks to get drugs (crack & heroin) and cheap hotels until the money ran out. Then he was back again by the time the next check showed up,” wrote Tom.
Another friend, Kim, also said Mike Starr’s dad contributed to his death. “Mike’s dad was an enabler and a user of Mike’s wealth. It saddens me terribly,” she wrote, adding, “These two were truly wonderful guys and I will miss them forever.”
Weeks before his death in 2002, Layne Staley talked about the impact on his life of his own father’s drug use.
“My world became a nightmare, there were just shadows around me. I got a call saying that my dad had died, but my family always knew he was around doing all kind of drugs. Since that call I always was wondering, ‘Where is my dad?’ I felt so sad for him and I missed him. He dropped out of my life for 15 years.”
Two artists with so much life in front of them are now gone forever.
In a statement, the band said, “Members of Alice in Chains are mourning the loss of their friend and ask that the media respect their privacy – and the privacy of the Starr family – during this difficult time. Their thoughts and prayers are with the Starr family.”
The anguish and pain they sought to cover up with drugs are no longer needed to comfort their lifeless bodies.
Friends and fans long inspired and entertained by the music of Alice in Chains hope Mike Starr and Layne Staley, now free of the chains of addiction that trapped and eventually stole both their lives, can now comfort each other.
Rest in Peace, Mike Starr.