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Layne Staley



Layne Thomas Staley (August 22, 1967 -ca. April 5, 2002) was the legendary lead singer of the Seattle grunge/metal band Alice In Chains as well as the lead singer/songwriter of the rock supergroup Mad Season.

Staley was arguably the heart of Alice In Chains. His passionate and tortured singing style helped Alice In Chains become one of the most successful bands of the 1990's. The band’s distinctive sound came from Staley’s vocal style and his lyrics dealing with personal struggles and addiction. Staley’s songs were often considered “dark”, with themes such as drug abuse, depression, and suicide. Staley battled with heroin addiction for several years, until his fatal overdose in 2002.

Layne Staley spent his childhood in Kirkland, Seattle WA. He was introduced to music at a young age and he started to play drums at the age of 12. He eventually found his place behind the mic stand as a lead singer and performed in glam rock bands during the 1980's. Staley was also part of a groovy funk project, before meeting Jerry Cantrell, Sean Kinney and Mike Starr. The four guys ended up playing together, first under the name "Diamond Lie", then Alice N'Chains and finally Alice In Chains.

Staley and the Chains released 3 albums; Facelift (1990), Dirt (1992) and Alice In Chains (1995), along with two EPs; Sap (1992) and Jar Of Flies (1994).

In the late 1994 Layne Staley, Mike McCready (Pearl Jam), John Baker Saunders (The Walkabouts) and Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees) formed a group called Mad Season and recorded an album called "Above" (1995).

Along with Alice In Chains and Mad Season, Staley worked with several other artists during his life. Heart's song "Ring Them Bells", Second Coming's "It's Coming After" and Class of 99 "Another Brick On The Wall" all include Staley's vocals.

Most of Staley's lyrics focused on his addiction to drugs, most notably heroin. Unfortunately, it was this addiction that led to the band's hiatus in the 1990's. The band had to pass on many tour and concert opportunities because of Staley's health. The troubled singer was in and out of rehab and was in no condition to tour. This eventually led to the band's downfall.

During Alice in Chains' hiatus in the 1990's, reports of Staley's addiction began to gain widespread circulation in fan and media communities, in part from changes to his physical condition brought on by his prolonged drug abuse.

In 1998, Staley reunited with Alice in Chains to record two new songs, “Get Born Again” and “Died”. The songs were released in the 1999 AIC box set "Music Bank".

From 1999 to 2002, Staley became more reclusive; little is known about the details of his life during this period. There have been a few reported sightings during this time; he was described as being "pale" and "sickly".

On April 19, 2002, Staley was found dead in his home after his mother and stepfather went to his condo with the police. As reported by Rick Anderson of the Seattle Weekly, his body was surrounded by various drug possessions and paraphernalia. The autopsy report later concluded that Staley had been dead for two weeks and he had passed after injecting a mixture of heroin and cocaine known as a "speedball".

Oddly enough, Staley died on the same day (April 5th) as fellow Seattle musician Kurt Cobain in 1994.

An informal memorial was held for Staley on the night of April 20 at the Seattle Center which was attended by at least 1000 fans and friends, including Cantrell, Starr, Inez, Kinney and Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell. Cantrell dedicated his 2002 solo album, Degradation Trip, released two months after Staley's death, to his memory.

In 2002, Staley's mother, Nancy McCallum, and Jamie Richards, a drug and alcohol counselor, formed the Layne Staley Fund, a non-profit organization that raises money for drug treatment and works with the Seattle music community. The main cause of LSF is to provide care and support to users of Heroin and other types of drugs. It holds a yearly tribute concert in August, on or around Staley's birthday.

Following Staley's death, Alice in Chains officially disbanded, until they re-grouped again in 2005 for a benefit concert for victims of the December 26, 2004 tsunami. They performed with several vocalists filling in for Staley, including Patrick Lachman from Damageplan, Phil Anselmo of Pantera and Down, Wes Scantlin from Puddle of Mudd, Maynard James Keenan from Tool (a friend of Staley's), and Ann Wilson from Heart. Following positive response, the band decided to reunite formally in 2006.

It's been almost nine years now since Staley's death, but his legacy proudly lives on. Bands such as Staind and Godsmack have been greatly influenced by AIC and Staley. There are also several songs written about him, by artists such as Pearl Jam, Staind and Black Label Society. Read more on User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.

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