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This article appeared Sept 12, 2002


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3AE singer dies in car crash

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By William Dean Hinton and Jeffrey C. Billman Published 9/12/02

Christopher Rice, the 29-year-old vocalist for the recently formed rock band 3AE, died Sept. 6 in an early-morning, single-car accident on Old Cheney Road.

According to a traffic report, Rice's 1993 Honda was speeding eastbound when the car spun out of control and struck a utility pole, throwing him through the windshield. Emergency technicians declared Rice, who wasn't wearing a seat belt, dead at the scene.

Rice's death comes as 3AE, the brainchild of producer songwriter-guitarist Tony Battaglia, was about to record its first album. The group signed a deal with RCA Records last month after auditioning for industry executives in California and New York. 3AE is expected to launch a national search for another frontman.

"We wanted nothing more than to succeed with Chris Rice," says Battaglia, who has worked with the Backstreet Boys, Mandy Moore, 0- Town and other pop acts. "Chris was the voice that got us here. The songs are great. But if you don't have a talented singer, no record company wants to see you. Everything we have we owe to Chris' voice."

Rice made a name for himself as a wide-ranging vocalist with the Denizens, a radio-ready foursome that broke up several years ago. Rice brought the same hard-soft integrity to 3AE. "In the studio, you'll often have to do 50 takes to put together one track," says 3AE drummer Matt Brown. "With Chris, every take was a great one."

The day after Rice's death WTKS-FM (104.1) played a tribute for him. Guest DJ Tyson spun a remarkably prescient 3AE song titled "A Place Beyond the Sun."