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BIG COUNTRY STAR'S SUICIDE IN HAWAII; Stuart overdoses in hotel.

Byline: GRAHAM TIBBETTS

EIGHTIES pop star Stuart Adamson has been found dead in a hotel room from a suspected drink and drugs overdose.

A maid found the body of the lead singer with Big Country six weeks after he split from his wife Melanie.

He fled their home in Nashville, Tennessee, and was last seen by friends drinking heavily.

Father-of-two Stuart, 43, was discovered in the pounds 55-a-night Best Western Plaza near Honolulu Airport, Hawaii, on Sunday.

A spokeswoman for Honolulu police said: "It is being treated as an unattended death, possibly suicide."

The singer and guitarist was regarded as one of the musical icons of the 1980s.

US showbiz reporter Brad Schmidt said: "This is a terrible tragedy. He had only recently split-up from Melanie and obviously he was pretty down about the whole situation.

"Friends have told me she is totally devastated about his death but they were having problems for some time."

Last night Ian Grant, Stuart's manager and a friend since they met in 1977, said: "He was a great guy and I know there will be a lot of people who feel the same way.

"He was a man that I had a lot of respect for. You don't stay with someone in this business for that length of time unless that is the case.

"I just cannot believe it. My heart goes out to his family.

"I have just lost one of the finest people I have ever worked with or been lucky enough to know."

The Manchester-born star grew up in Dunfermline, Fife. He formed punk outfit The Skids in the 1970s with Richard Jobson as the frontman. After a two big hits and a string of Top Of The Pops appearances Stuart really made it big when he set up Big Country in the early 1980s.

The four-piece band drew on folk influences to give their guitar-driven rock a distinctive Scottish flavour.

They sold more than 10million records and notched up 17 top 30 hits, including In A Big Country and Fields Of Fire.

After splitting from first wife Sandra Stuart moved to Nashville to immerse himself in the country music scene. There he formed a new band, The Raphaels, and met his second wife, hairdresser Melanie Shelley.

But as his problems grew he vanished suddenly in November leaving a note for his 19-year-old son, Callum - "Back by noon Sunday".

It was his second disappearance in two years, following his withdrawal from a Bryan Adams gig in Britain in November 1999. And earlier this year he was forced to pull out of a gig in Edinburgh due to booze problems.

He had fought a long-running battle with the bottle throughout his career.

In 1985 he announced he was giving up alcohol and he was dry for 12 years.

But earlier this month Stuart was due in court to face a drink-driving charge in the US. He never appeared.

Big Country member Bruce Watson spoke to him not long before he vanished. He said: "I could tell he was in a bad way but he seemed determined to get sober.

"We spoke about the possibility of getting a band together as we had been approached to play some gigs in the Balkans and Falklands.

"He joked about press reports that he was traumatised by gigs we did in Kosovo and came to the conclusion that the most traumatic experience he had was sitting in the tour bus with Vanessa Redgrave for three hours.

"He still had his sense of humour but he was hurting badly."

SINGER'S GREATEST HITS

THE SKIDS

Feb 1979: Into The Valley.........No.10

Nov 79: Working For The Yankee Dollar...............................................No.20

BIG COUNTRY

Feb 1983: Fields Of Fire (400 Miles)May 83: In A Big Country........No.17

Sept 83: Chance..............................No.9

Jan 84: Wonderland......................No.8

Sept 84: East of Eden.................No.17

Jan 85: Just A Shadow...............No.26

Apr 86: Look Away.......................No.7

Jun 86: The Teacher...................No.28

Sept 86: One Great Thing........No.19

CAPTION(S):

TRAGIC STAR: Stuart Adamson had huge success but drink problem haunted him; FOUNDER: With first hit band The Skids; BIG TIME: Big Country made him a star
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 18, 2001
Words:702
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