Layne Staley: 10 Years Gone

5 Apr

April 5th, 2012 marks the ten year anniversary of the death of Alice in Chains’ frontman, Layne Staley.  Staley was the lead vocalist and predominant songwriter for Alice in Chains which is one of the most memorable and influential Grunge/Alt. Rock bands of the 1990’s.  AiC’s debut, Facelift, their iconic follow-up, Dirt, second, acoustic EP, Jar of Flies and final self-titled LP (sometimes referred to by fans as Tripod because of the three-legged dog on the albums cover) are all certified platinum.

Alice in Chains’ sound, owed heavily to Staley’s dark, pain-stricken vocals and bandmate Jerry Cantrell’s heavy guitar-work, was absolutely groundbreaking and reinforced the “alternative” in “Alternative Rock.”  Think “Man in the Box” in 1991…

Aside: Since the mid-90’s, AiC’s sound and Staley’s vocal stylings have been reclaimed by numerous acts, but never with the same audacity.  Think predictable Alt. Pop/Rockers like Godsmack (who actually started as an Alice in Chains cover band), Days of the New and Tantric.  Even worse, think acts like Puddle of Mudd, Cold, Staind et. al. that flooded the Alt. Rock radio stations with their puke in the early 2000’s.  But Alt. Rock’s decade of devolution is not at the hands of Alice in Chains, nor the late Staley.

*     *     *

Layne Staley had an awful, awful drug addiction and it made it extremely difficult to tour, let alone produce music.  After Tripod, Layne was so sick from prolonged use of heroin and crack that he dropped out of the band and holed up in his apartment.  There were numerous attempts made by family, friends and former/bandmates to pull the man out of his box, but his refusal to accept help and recognition of his pending mortality (spoken candidly about in his last, emaciated interview) made it clear that Staley was not long for this world.

Staley’s mother called 911 when she hadn’t heard from her son in weeks.  His body, or what was left of it, was found in his Seattle apartment two weeks after the presumed date of death: April 5th, 2002.  The autopsy showed a speedball (a mixture of heroin and cocaine) was the final nail in Staley’s coffin.

To this day I will still go through Alice in Chains phases.  Tonight I think I’ll revisit Dirt and Jar of Flies which were frequent occupants of my middle school Discman.  Ten years later, I hope Layne Staley continues to rest in peace.

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2 Responses to “Layne Staley: 10 Years Gone”

  1. clownonfire April 5, 2012 at 8:30 pm #

    Rest well, Layne!
    I have some pretty great memories attached to his music.
    Le Clown

  2. Scarlet December 25, 2014 at 1:01 am #

    RIP Layne 😦
    So sad–he was a great loss in the music industry. Had an amazing, inimitable voice.

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