Slaughter guitarist Tim Kelly has been killed in car crash in Arizona according to official band sources. Kelly, 35, died from injuries after his car collided with a tractor-trailer which had jackknifed on an Arizona highway Thursday evening.
Details are still sketchy, but the Arizona Highway Patrol told the sources that Kelly was not killed instantly. The musician was taken by ambulance to the Baghdad, Arizona Health Clinic, in order to be stabilized and airlifted to a trauma center, but he succumbed to massive head injuries while still at the clinic.
Kelly was apparently travelling alone at the time, but a second car carrying five people was also struck by the 18-wheeler. All five were successfully transported to the trauma center for treatment.
The accident happened at around 6:30 PM local time as Kelly was travelling from Kingman, Arizona to Baghdad, Arizona on State Route 96. The purpose of his trip is not clear. Kelly, an east coast native, lived in Henderson,
Nevada, a suburb of Las Vegas.
The band has recorded five albums since 1990 and has had the same line-up since its inception: Kelly, Mark Slaughter (vocals, guitar, piano), Dana Strum (bass), and drummer Blas Elias.
Slaughter toured with Alice Cooper last summer and headlined their own tour of clubs and theaters last fall. Their last appearance with Kelly was a live show at Harpo's in Detroit, Michigan on Nov. 15, 1997, which had been preceded by a radio performance on Mancow's morning radio show in Chicago the day before.
The band is currently slated to take part in the Rock Never Stops tour with Warrant, Quiet Riot, Firehouse, and L.A. Guns, scheduled to run from mid-May through the summer.
While a final decision has yet to be made, the band they will most likely continue on without Kelly.
"He was an incredible trooper and made it through the highest of the highs and lowest of the lows in his life and career," Dana Strum said in a statement.
"While we're obviously in shock, at first thought none of us believe he would want anything but to have us keep the upbeat and positive message of Slaughter's music out there in the world."
Slaughter were formed by Mark Slaughter and Strum after the pair left Vinnie Vincent's band and recruited friends Kelly and Elias. They scored an immediate hit with their first album "Stick It To Ya" on Chrysalis in 1990. The album, helped by massive touring including an extensive stint opening for Kiss, went gold within two months of its release and spawned two hit singles, "Up All Night" and "Fly To The Angels." Three months later, spurred on by the success of the videos for those songs, the album was certified platinum. Later that year the band won an American Music Award for Best New Heavy Metal Band.
Slaughter, now signed to the CMC label, was working on a live album at the time of Kelly's death. Kelly had just completed a minor repair on the track, "Rock the World." The sources
report that the as yet untitled record will contain an enhanced-CD program and will now serve as an audio and visual tribute to Kelly's memory.