This is an installment in The Posse Project, a 12-day series in which www.PHXmusic.com catches up with all 12 guys pictured on the cover of N.W.A's first album, N.W.A. and the Posse. Today, we continue with DJ Train, one of two people in this photo who are now deceased.
Also Known As: Clarence Lars.
Before the Photo: DJ Train was a childhood friend of MC Ren (read MC Ren's entry in the Posse Project here) and Eazy E who became one of Ruthless Records top DJs, working with J.J. Fad and other acts on the label.
In the Photo: Train is blocked out by the letters Macola stamped on the front.
After the Photo: Train went on to start a group called C.P.O. (Capital Punishment Organization) with rapper Lil' Nation (aka Boss Hogg) and producer Young D. The group's debut, To Hell And Black peaked at #33 on Billboard's hip-hop chart.
Now: DJ Train was killed in a house fire on July 26, 1994.
His brother, Jesse "Tootie" Lars — who produced MC Ren's single, "Same Ol' Shit," which peaked at #90 on the Billboard Hot 100 — told me Train saved the lives of several family members.
"He went back in because he thought some of our family was still in there. He passed out in the living room, right in front of the TV, and they found him right there when they went back in," Lars said. "He was a really cool guy. A lot of people don't know that when him and Dre and Eazy went on tour they'd come back at like 1 a.m. and leave their stuff at our house so we could practice on it, learn how to make music. That's just the kind of guys they were, people don't know that."
Here's an excerpt from the Press-Telegram story:
Replicas of the million-selling rap records he helped create hung, melted, on the wall of his apartment Tuesday, a vivid summary of the life and death of Clarence Lars - better known to music fans as DJ Train.
Lars was 23 when died just before 8 a.m. on July 26. He passed in the burn unit of a California hospital from injuries sustained early Sunday morning in a fire that charred the kitchen and living room.
Train's mother, two sisters and a niece were in the apartment when the blaze began, and all made it out alive.
"He could have been selfish and got out himself,'' said his father, Jesse Lars Sr. at the time. "But he helped get two people out and thought the other two were still trapped, so he went back in.''
As word of Train's death spread Tuesday, the neighborhood where he was raised became the site of a spontaneous wake. Family, friends, fellow rappers and fans parked their cars outside the home, listened to music and shared memories over bottles of malt liquor.
"Train was a big man - over 6 feet, over 200 pounds - but he was a peaceful man, a spiritual man," said Rebecca Morfin, the mother of his 5-year-old son, Sean. "He was courageous, too. When the paramedics were putting him into the ambulance and we were all screaming that we loved him, he signaled to us that it was all right."
Check out the other installments in the Posse Project Here: