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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Former Alice In Chains Bassist Mike Starr: In Memoriam

On Tuesday afternoon (March 8th), former Alice in Chains bassist Mike Starr was found dead in Salt Lake City, Utah. The founding member of the seminal Seattle band was 44 years old and had struggled with addiction his entire life. His passing sent shockwaves through the rock world, and his death has devastated friends, fans and his former bandmates. In recent years, Starr had become more famous for his stint on "Celebrity Rehab" than he ever was as a musician, but his legacy as a key member of Alice in Chains should not be understated.

The core sound of Alice in Chains was as much about Starr as it is about Jerry Cantrell's guitar sludgy guitar licks or late singer Layne Staley's wails from the crypt. The low end of the sonic spectrum was not as important to a lot of the other bands who came up during that era (Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament always seemed like he'd be more comfortable in a jam band, while Nirvana four-stringer Krist Novoselic mostly provided color for Kurt Cobain's guitar riffs, "Come As You Are" notwithstanding), but in order to nail Alice in Chains' particular brand of brutality, Starr's bass was key. The brutality on the low end was terrifying, and the punch of early Alice in Chains hits like "Man in the Box" would be impossible without Starr's muscular chops.

Starr shared writing credit on two songs in the AIC catalog: "It Ain't Like That" from Facelift and "Rain When I Die" from Dirt. "It Ain't Like That" is a typical grinder, but "Rain When I Die" is something else entirely. Star's bass opens and anchors the song with a Ginsu-sharp bass roll that provides a bed for some Cantrell riffing before the main hook kicks in. "I think it's gonna rain when I die," Staley moans in the chorus. There's certain a storm front moving through the rock world today.


Charlie Sheen Rants Against TV Execs Who Fired Him

Los Angeles (CNN) -- You wouldn't have expected Charlie Sheen to go quietly after his increasingly bizarre behavior prompted his TV bosses to fire him from "Two and a Half Men," and Sheen would not want to disappoint you.

He spewed an eight-and-a-half-minute, grandiloquent, profanity-laced tirade online late Tuesday, a day after he was sacked.

At first Sheen comes across like a college student who's read too much of the Beat writers Jack Kerouac or Allen Ginsberg, referring to himself as the "raven-wise, Gibson-shredding napalm poet before you, alone and unshackled.

"Oh how they once begged to attend my perfect banquet in the nude," Sheen intones. "Now they just beg for the keys to my gold."

He calls himself the "Malibu Messiah" and repeatedly refers to himself as a warlock.
But, clearly reading a prepared speech in video recorded live on, Sheen goes on long enough to make it hard for viewers to laugh off his rant.

Chuck Lorre, the creator of the program that starred Sheen for eight years, comes in for the greatest abuse.
"I see you, you little worm, I see you behind your plastic smile, your bitchy pout, and your desperate need to be liked," Sheen says, calling the TV executive "Chuck E. Cheese Ball," not using Lorre's full name.

He accuses Lorre of "narcissism, greed (and) hatred of yourself -- or women," one of several moments in the video that should give armchair psychiatrists plenty of material to mine.

He says of CBS chief executive Les Moonves: "You gave me your word so you gave me nothing. It must really suck being your missus," again mangling the name.

"A high treason has occurred," he concludes. "The scales of justice are in a state of radical disarray. Together we must right this infantile wrong. Stay tuned, good soldiers. I'll see you all on the battlefield. Dogspeed."

The video ends with helicopter sound effects and a single person clapping.

Warner Bros. Television fired Sheen Monday.

"After careful consideration, Warner Bros. Television has terminated Charlie Sheen's services on 'Two and a Half Men,' effective immediately," the company said in a statement.

Sheen, 45, has been known for his highly publicized marital, legal and substance abuse problems as much as his acting.

The show was put on hiatus after he entered a rehabilitation program in January, and production was halted after Sheen blasted Lorre and Alcoholics Anonymous in a February 24 radio interview.

Behind Charlie Sheen's firing Dr. Drew: Sheen suffering from hypomania Charlie Sheen officially fired
He has followed that up with a series of interviews in which he threatened to sue CBS for shutting down the show, demanded a raise from $2 million to $3 million per episode and insisted he was "clean, focused and ready to get back to work."

"I feel more alive, I feel more focused, I feel more energetic," Sheen told CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight" last week. "I'm on a quest to claim absolute victory on every front."

Amid his professional squabbles with Warner Bros. and CBS, Sheen's estranged wife, Brooke Mueller, won a court order removing their twin sons from Sheen's home after she told authorities he had threatened to cut her head off, "put it in a box and send it to your mom." In an interview with NBC's "Today Show," Sheen denied making the threat and insisted the quote was fabricated.

Sheen earlier pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge involving Mueller in August 2010, receiving a sentence of 30 days probation, as well as rehabilitation and anger-management counseling. The following October, adult-film actress Capri Anderson accused Sheen of terrorizing her during a drunken rampage in a room at the Plaza Hotel in New York; Sheen sued her in November, claiming she tried to extort money from him.

And Sheen's second wife, Denise Richards, accused Sheen of physically and verbally abusing her and threatening her life.

She obtained a restraining order against him in 2006. The couple divorced that year, and Richards has custody of their two daughters.

Warner Bros. Television is a division of Time Warner Inc., also the parent company of CNN.