It was clear that Alice in Chains, led by vocalist Layne Staley, was always doing something slightly different from the other bands in Seattle in the late 1980s and early 1990s, who were all part of the grunge movement and provided their own take on it.
The Revivalists essentially rocked classic jams like Pearl Jam, bringing a rebirth to solo guitar. They had a deep appreciation for punk rock, while also being heavily influenced by Nirvana. In particular, they were on the border between metal and glam, much like Alice in Chains. The band formed out of the ashes of a previous band called Chains N’ Alice, which heavily incorporated elements of metal, speed, and glam.
The band’s first album, Facelift, heavily influenced by glam metal, began to make waves in the grunge scene in Seattle. Although Layne Staley and Mike Starr would be replaced by Mike Inez in 1993, Alice in Chains, formed by Jerry Cantrell and Sean Kinney in 1987, went on to have an excellent career in the world of alternative rock.
In 1996, the band experienced an extended period of inactivity. However, due to Layne Staley’s extensive drug use, their efforts to create an acoustic EP called “Jar of Flies” in 1994 and their third studio album, “Dirt,” in 1992, including several magnificent records, were intended for Alice In Chains.
I didn’t exactly want that to happen. It’s high time they gave me thumbs up and came up to me as fans. I’ve had fans who thought it was cool for me to think that heroin sucked. This is hell I’m walking through now, as they’re now turning against me and turning against me for drugs. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Staley said, “Drugs worked for me.”
The last shows of Alice in Chains, in which Staley played with them, actually took place in April 1996, although their performance on MTV’s Unplugged session was highly praised, it worsened things in the following two and a half years.
Staley fell into a deep and dark depression, and then decided to watch a 24-hour suicide hotline. Subsequently, Lara Demri Parrott, Staley’s girlfriend, died of a drug overdose. Staley could never stay clean for long in 1996, but he did attend several rehabilitation facilities. Unfortunately, he soon relapsed back into addiction. Kurt Cobain’s passing initially scared Staley and caused him to fear for his sobriety.
Conversely, I would play him; I would play me. He would be writing all the time, and I would be playing shit. He said, “Let’s go over to his place and hang out with Staley in the apartment regularly.” The other members of Alice in Chains would also regularly hang out with Staley in the apartment.
Sean Kinney, the drummer of Alice in Chains, revealed Staley’s seclusion from society and his despair. Kinney disclosed that Staley would frequently venture to Toys ‘R’ Us to purchase games and then return home by himself. Staley occupied his time by engaging in video games, artistic endeavors, and slumber. Starting in approximately 1999, Staley’s existence revolved around a combination of heroin, cocaine, and the nutritional supplement, Endure.
Kinney stated, “It reached a point where he had isolated himself so completely, both physically and emotionally. I persistently attempted to establish communication. Like clockwork, I would call him three times a week, but he would never respond. Every time I was in the vicinity, I would be standing in front of his residence, shouting for him. Even if you managed to gain entry into his building, he would refuse to unlock the door. You would call, and he would not reply. Although I often contemplated forcefully entering and seizing him, it was not a viable option. However, if someone refuses to help themselves, what can anyone else truly accomplish?”
In April 2002, Staley’s accountants reported that no funds had been withdrawn from his bank account for a duration of two weeks. As a result, the police were contacted and they visited Staley’s residence along with his mother, Nancy McCallum. During their visit, they discovered that Staley’s body had started to decompose and he weighed a mere 39 kilograms. The autopsy findings indicated that Staley had passed away as a result of a speedball overdose, which is a combination of heroin and cocaine.
Once again, Starr became enraged when his friend, Mike Starr, the former bassist of Alice in Chains, was the last person to see Staley. This happened when Staley was trying to help his former vocalist friend and offered to call 911 during an argument. Mike Starr had also offered to call 911 to assist his friend.
I made a big mistake when I started using this shit, it’s very difficult. I know many people like to get high using drugs, but I’m not one of them. This fucking drug is necessary for me to survive, just like insulin is for a diabetic. Don’t try to talk to Liz about this, she will find out sooner or later. I’m not doing well. “I said, knowing that I was dying. In his final interview before his death, it was plain to see the state he had gotten himself into.
Staley remarked, “I am aware that I am close to death.” “For an extended period, I indulged in crack cocaine and heroin.” “As a result, I never desired to terminate my life.” “I am fully aware that I have no opportunity.” “The situation is irreversible.” “Regarding this detestable drug abuse, I never sought approval.” “I advise the members of Alice in Chains not to attempt any form of communication.” “They do not qualify as my companions.”
Since his tragic death in 2002, Kurt Cobain, a genuinely talented vocalist who shared his world of depression and addiction through iconic tracks like ‘Dirt’ and ‘Junkhead’, has been sorely missed in the alternative rock world. Like his contemporary, Layne Staley, he burned brightly in our hearts and the sky, but was tragically missed.