He is one of the "natural phenomena" of the music world and one of the most exciting composers, writers, and singers of the 90s and perhaps even of all time. He penetrates your heart in a way that is hard to explain in words. He is Layne Staley !!
1. He was born Layne Rutherford Staley on August 22, 1967, in Kirkland, Washington.
2. When he was 7 his parents divorced and he moved in with his mother and stepfather, he even briefly changed his last name to Elmer.
3. When he was 9 he wrote in "All About Me" - an American children's book where all the children write things about themselves, that when he grows up he wants to be a singer. By the way, Jerry Cantrell wrote in the same book that he wants to be a "rock star" when he grows up.
4. He was exposed to music through his parents who listened to: "Black Sabbath" and "Deep Purple". Later on, he was also influenced by artists like "The Stooges", "Anthrax", "Judas Priest", "Saxon", "Rainbow", "Mercyful Fate" and more ...
5. He hated his middle name and changed it when he was a teenager to Thomas, because he loved "Motley Crue" and admired their drummer Tommy Lee.
6. He started playing drums at the age of 12. Later he was a member of several glam bands, but he always dreamed of being a singer.
7. In 1984 he joined the band "Sleze". The band was formed by guitarists Johnny Bacolas, Zoli Semanate, drummer James Bergstrom and bassist Byron Hansen, who studied together at "Shorewood High School". They were looking for a singer and came across Ken Elmer who was Layne's stepbrother who suggested his brother to the band. Layne who was a drummer at the time agreed to audition, the four were amazed by Layne's shy and introverted voice and accepted him to the band.
8. The band performed mostly with covers of Glam and Speed Metal bands. They underwent several lineup changes and at one point even changed their name to "Alice N' Chains", but disbanded in 1987.
9. We've told you before how Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell met when Jerry was homeless and Layne was looking to form a band.
10. We also told you that when Jerry Cantrell, Sean Kinney, and Mike Starr decided to form a band they wanted Layne Staley as a singer, but he refused because he wanted to form his own band and not join an existing one. To persuade him to join their band the three members decided to audition very bad singers when Layne Staley was present in the studio. His breaking point was after a particularly hallucinatory audition of a stripper who wanted to be a singer and was probably really bad.
11. The band's name was changed several times until it was decided to adopt the name of Layne Staley's previous band with a slight change. Thus was the name "Alice in Chains".
(Photo: Annamaria Disanto)
12. The first demo of the band "The Treehouse Tapes" was completed in 1988 and found its way to Kelly Curtis and Susan Silver who managed the bands "Mother Love Bone," and "Soundgarden". The two gave the demo to "Columbia Records" and they signed the band on a recording contract in September 1989.
13. The band's debut album "Facelift" was released on August 21, 1990. The second single from the album "Man In The Box" was written by Layne and became a hysterical hit. Other singles from the album are: "We Die Young", "Sea of Sorrow" and "Bleed the Freak." This is the first album from the Grunge scene to be certified Gold and it was also nominated for a Grammy.
14. Layne said he wrote the song "Man In The Box" inspired by a dinner he attended with executives from "Columbia Records". At that time Layne was interested in government censorship. At that dinner, there were vegetarian people and they told him how the meat he eats is grown. Calves that are grown in places as crowded as small boxes. It inspired him to write a protest song against the government and the media that shape a citizen's thoughts into a box.
15. After the release of the album, the band went on a tour that lasted two years and even participated in the famous movie "Singles" which refers to the Grunge scene of the 90s in Seattle.
16. In February 1992 the band released their first EP "SAP" which consists entirely of acoustic songs. The album features Ann Wilson from "Heart" and another duo called "Alice Mudgarden", namely Chris Cornell and Mark Arm.
17. In September of that year the second album of "Alice in Chains" called "Dirt", was released. This is the band's most successful album that created crazy hits like "Would?", "Rooster", "Them Bones" and more ... Layne was the one who designed the sun logo on the album, which was also nominated for a Grammy Award.
18. Layne who was addicted to drugs and alcohol at the time, tried to quit and went into rehab several times but without success. During the tour of the album, the band's manager brought two bodyguards to accompany Layne to prevent people from bringing him drugs, but of course, the attempt was unsuccessful and Layne continued with drugs and alcohol.
20. The band's second EP, which is also entirely acoustic called "Jar OF Flies" was released in January 1994 and became the first EP in history to go straight to number one on the Billboard charts.
21. After the release of the EP, Layne's condition began to deteriorate as a result of heavy drug use. He put himself in a rehab facility and at the same time started working with several musicians on a project called "Mad Season".
22. The band "Mad Season" was formed by guitarist Mike McCready and bassist John Baker Saunders from "The Walkabouts" after returning from a joint stay at a drug rehab facility. The two decided to briמg in drummer Barrett Martin from "Screaming Trees". Mike was looking for a singer, and he thought it would be very helpful for Layne to be in the company of people who had been also in rehab to stop the drug use. The band released one, unique, masterful, and special album called "Above".
(Photo: Colombia Records)
23. Let's go back to "Alice" ... In July 1994, the band temporarily disbanded for six months and returned in November 1995, when the release of their third album "Alice In Chains". The album reached directly to first place on the chart and from it came the singles: "Grind", "Heaven Beside You" and "Again".
24. At the beginning of Alice's career, Jerry was a leader in everything related to writing music and lyrics but over time Layne became more involved and his participants in writing lyrics grew. The lyrics to this album for example were mostly written by Layne, except for three songs "Grind", "Heaven Beside You" and "Over Now".
25. At that time Layne's condition began to deteriorate significantly so the band did not go on tour to promote the album. Jerry said it was very frustrating for them, but as they stood together in the good moments they stood together in the difficult ones. As one whose drugs have been with him almost all his life, Layne felt that if in the past they had created good memories for him Occasionally, then this time they were already creating only bad memories and that was not something he wanted.
26. In April 1996, "Alice in Chains" held one of the biggest and most talked-about shows ever - the "MTV Unplugged". Jerry went up to the stage sick as a result of stomach poisoning, but this was hardly seen on him. In contrast, Layne who was deep in drugs at the time seemed painful, broken, distant, and sometimes disconnected.
27. In October 1996 Layne's ex-fiancée Demri Lara Parrott died of an overdose, Layne who took her death in a very severe manner was placed under suicide supervision for 24 hours. Some say her death is what accelerated the process of deterioration in Layne's condition which failed to recover from the incident.
28. In 1998 Lane recorded with the supergroup "Class of '99" a cover of the song "Another Brick In The Wall" by Pink Floyd, as part of the soundtrack to the horror film "The Faculty". The band members included Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine), Martyn LeNoble (Porno For Pyros), and Stephen Perkins (Jane’s Addiction).
29. In October 1998, members of "Alice in Chains" recorded two new songs, "Get Born Again" and "Died" which entered the band's compilation album "Music Bank", which was released in 1999. These were the last songs Layne recorded with the band.
30. That same month Layne attended Jerry Cantrell's debut show, following his first solo album, which was held in Seattle, but he refused to go up and sing with him despite Jerry's many pleas.
31. From then until the day he died, Layne was confined to his home in Seattle, rarely going out and meeting family and friends. The band members and family would call, send him letters and even knock on his door, but Layne would hardly reply. He was completely isolated and despite attempts by friends and family, he did not let anyone approach him except Mike Starr who claimed he was with him on his birthday, which occurred the day before Layne's death.
32. On April 19 2002, Layne's account manager called his former manager Susan Silver, after failing to reach him and informed her that Layne had not withdrawn money from his account for two weeks. Susan called Layne's mother Nancy McCallum and she immediately called the police, who along with his stepfather found him lifeless.
33. Post-mortem revealed that Layne died as a result of mixing heroin and cocaine two weeks before his body was discovered, on April 5th, 2002.
34. On August 22, 2019 (Layne's 52nd birthday), the Seattle Mayor announced "Layne Staley Day". In Layne's memory and recognition for his contribution to Seattle music, his parents founded an organization and a fund that supports Seattle music artists who are addicted to drugs.
For listening to the compilation album with the last two songs that Layne recorded with "Alice": Spotify