Pull The Plug

Album: Starz (1976)
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Songfacts®:

  • Pulling the plug on love is an apt metaphor for ending a relationship, but in this song it's quite literal. This guy's girl has been in a coma for six months now and he wants to end her suffering. He waits until no one is around, then he takes her off life support.

    The song got some attention - mostly negative - because of its unusual storyline. Some felt it was cruel to pull the plug, but the singer is clearly doing it out of love and willing to accept the consequences.
  • According to Starz guitarist Richie Ranno, there were two news stories that inspired this song. One was about Karen Ann Quinlan, who went brain dead after an overdose in 1975. Her parents wanted to take her off life support, but doctors refused and a legal battle ensued. The story made headlines and triggered a debate about the right to die.
  • "Pull The plug" is a track from Starz' self-titled debut album, produced by Jack Douglas, best known for his work with Aerosmith. Most of their songs were about girls, music, or having a good time - the kind of rock-and-roll topics that play well in a live setting. But lead singer Michael Lee Smith sometimes took some surprising detours with his lyrics, as he did with this song. On the next Starz album, they included a song called "Subway Terror," inspired by stories about violence on the New York City subways.
  • Starz' signature two-guitar attack from Richie Ranno and Brendan Harkin is on display on this track. Their straight-up rock sound went over very well live and earned Starz gigs opening for Bob Seger, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ted Nugent, and other major acts. Their biggest hit was the more melodic "Cherry Baby" from their second album, Violation. They seemed to be on an upward trajectory, but then their record label, Capitol, seemed to lose interest and made them self-produce their next album. Without the funding and support, and with musical tastes changing (hello, disco!) Starz fell apart and disbanded in 1980.
  • Starz titled their second album Violation in response to the controversy this song generated, leaning into the idea that they were offenders of some kind.
  • Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe is one of several big-name musicians who have praised Starz over the years. In 2019, he tweeted about "Pull The Plug": "Such a cool song with great lyrics. Would love to cover this song someday."

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