Ten things you didn’t know about rock and metal last week – and a prize draw for those who did…
By Martin Kielty, Rock News Desk Editor

It’s been a week full of headlines about bassists – first and foremost the tragic death of sacked Alice in Chains man Mike Starr.

That’s right, I said “sacked”… and there’s been a bit of a backlash after I used that word. From some people stating they feel it’s rude, to suggestions that I’m needlessly sensationalising, to classic web-fodder accusations of me being a “douchebag”, it’s certainly generated some feedback.

But I stick by my decision. Let me explain why.

Headline writing is by nature an exercise in journalistic shorthand. I don’t believe it’s possible to argue that any accusation of sensationalism is supported by the content of the story which follows the headlines.

Headline writing is also a sales technique. If you subscribe to the format of educate, entertain, inform – as RND does – you have two distinct markets to attract with every headline: the relatively easy audience who already want to read the story (in this case fans of Alice in Chains or those who’d seen Starr on TV recently) then the more difficult audience of those who are not disposed to read the story. That’s why sometimes the two main aims of a headline will result in a backlash.

Mike Starr was sacked by Alice in Chains in 1993. He said so himself on Celebrity Rehab. So regardless of emotion, it’s accurate.

And his death is a tragedy. But it’s not a sudden tragedy. It’s a tragedy that began to unfold two decades ago when Starr began to lose control of his life through drug issues. The addition of the information that he’d been sacked from a band he loved lends depth and longevity to the tragedy. If you expect someone to apologise for outlining just how tragic Starr’s death is, I question your human compassion.

News is about life, and life is about people. RND isn’t here to spread idle gossip or to entertain without also informing and/or educating. If pointing out Starr was sacked leads one person in the world to consider their own situation, or that of a close friend or family member, and perhaps one life is changed for the better through a harsh word, then I believe it’s my social responsibility to try it.

Of course it’s harsh. Drug addiction is harsh. A talented musician dying at 44 after battling addiction for nearly half the time he was on earth is harsh.

While a lot of news outlets have ended their stories with plastic passion, saying “This publication’s thoughts are with Starr’s family,” I maintain they have no right to dispose of their social responsibility that way. We’re not supposed to stand idly by wringing our hands. Our job is to tell people what happened, and hopefully do it in a way which makes them react – in the hope that somewhere out there, even if you’ll never know it (and sometimes because you’ll never know it), you’ll make a difference.

One word can make a difference: in this case “Sacked”.

Isn’t that what most people want to do with their time amongst the human race? It’s certainly what I want to do. That’s why I’m a journalist.

* * * * * * * * * *

On to more varied topics: We proudly present ten things you didn’t know about rock and metal this time last week, as revealed by RND headlines.

There’s no way you knew all ten. Is there? If you did email editor@rocknewsdesk.com explaining you did indeed know them all, and we’ll add your name to a prize draw to win a completely pointless and almost certainly useless Certificate of Education courtesy of Rock News Desk.

This week’s top ten facts

1. Motorhead icon Lemmy doesn’t believe he controls the entire band. [more info]

2. Tragic ex-Alice in Chains member Mike Starr was planning a series of new shows and a small tour before he died. [more info]

3. Duff McKagan heard the rumour that Guns n’Roses were reuniting for next year’s Super Bowl when his wife asked him about it. [more info]

4. Terrorvision frontman Tony Wright asks for Mini Babybel cheeses on his tour rider so he can put them in venue toilets for people to mistake for soap. [more info]

5. Tankard singer Gerre Geremia is a soap opera addict – so much so he’s recorded a guest appearance in his favourite show.
[more info]

6. It’s not just a fan title – Van Halen really did consider changing their name to Van Hagar when singer Sammy first joined. [more info]

7. Megadeth mainman Dave Mustaine let Diamond Head’s Brian Tatler down over a collaboration project – but Tatler still hopes he’ll call. [more info]

8. Slipknot’s problems run deeper than the ones caused by Paul Gray’s death. [more info]

9. John Lydon thinks Black Sabbath’s Paranoid is one of the greatest singles ever released. [more info]

10. Soundgarden’s comeback album will feature tracks based on music they wrote in their very early days, long before they split up. [more info]

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