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Subject: Layne Staley Story

Written By: RockandRollFan on 06/16/05 at 6:11 pm

This story is what I read just yesterday....


Surely it's just a coincidence, but it's worthy of mention: On April 5, 2002, exactly eight years after Kurt Cobain killed himself, another tragedy hit the Seattle music scene.

After years of drug abuse, Alice in Chains singer Layne Staley

fatally overdosed on a combination of heroin and cocaine at the age of 34 (see "Layne Staley Died From Mix Of Heroin, Cocaine, Report Says"). But where Cobain's death was met with a massive public outpouring of grief, Staley's was greeted with a general shrug of indifference and a complete lack of surprise. His band had been inactive for so long, and he'd been written off by so many, that it almost seemed like he'd already died.

It's clear that Staley's unwillingness or inability to kick drugs tore Alice in Chains apart. What's not so obvious is why his addiction caused people to overlook his contributions to music and why only 200 fans attended a vigil after his death.

The Alice in Chains sound  Staley's darkly melodic vocals and minor-key harmonies coupled with the band's down-tuned chug is the framework for numerous modern acts, including Godsmack, Taproot, Puddle of Mudd, Smile Empty Soul, Cold and Tantric. Even Metallica, who said they always wanted to tour with Alice in Chains, have some Staleyesque harmonies on their latest opus, St. Anger. And Alice songs like "Them Bones," "Grind," "Would?" and of course "Man in the Box" continue to be rock-radio staples.

Alice in Chains' music has endured largely because it tied together timeless elements of classic rock and metal with passionate, well-crafted songwriting. Moreover, it captured the lifestyles of its members. If Nirvana were about the joy of destruction, Alice embodied the beauty of decay. Their songs were gloomy, cocky, abrasive, unrepentant and confrontational, and Staley frequently sang about being in the grip of heroin addiction. But there was more to Layne Staley than his incurable drug habit, tortured lyrics and unmistakable voice.

At the end of 1995, around the time Alice in Chains' self-titled final studio album was released, I flew to Seattle to spend a few days with the band for a Rolling Stone cover story. Originally, Layne didn't want to talk. He had been burned by the press too many times, and was interested in maintaining a quiet sort of dignity. However, the magazine wouldn't do the story without him, so at the urging of his bandmates, he relented. I spent around 15 hours with Staley and found him to be warm, friendly and genuinely funny. He wasn't a class clown, he was more like the dude who tells the next joke after the clown has gotten everyone's attention.

Fans got a taste of Alice in Chains' goofy sense of humor during an edition of "Headbangers Ball" shot at a water park. The bandmembers showed up wearing bathing caps, water wings and flotation devices shaped like animals. Later, Staley cast a fishing pole into the aquarium and Cantrell was pushed into the pool the band was booted from the park soon after.

During my Seattle excursion, I saw a sicker side of Staley's humor when, during a meal at an Italian eatery, the singer gleefully fired off a story about a girl who vomited on his friend during sex.

In some ways, Alice in Chains' frontman was like a mischievous little kid trapped in the body of an agonized artist. He carried a Game Boy around with him, which he played at every free moment. During a walk through Pike Place Market, he told me about maxing out his first credit card at a toy store. At home, when he wasn't playing one of his many video games, he spent hours watching professional wrestling and giggling at cartoons. Yet he also loved creating art, and for our first interview he proudly wore a T-shirt emblazoned with a self-portrait he'd made. He created a similar print of a couple embracing for the cover of Above, the 1995 debut album by his side project Mad Season.

There was a soft side to Layne Staley as well, one that contrasted sharply with his brooding vocals and haunting lyrics. He loved playing with his cats and talked about someday falling in love and having kids. He nearly started crying when he talked about friends who had passed away and expressed genuine compassion when I shared a story about a traumatic death in my family. But being in the music business hardened Staley, and fame scared him.

Like Cobain, he hated being viewed as a public figure. Most of all, he hated being characterized as a hopeless junkie not because it wasn't true, but because of the effect it had on those he cared about. He was pretty unapologetic about his own drug use and was convinced that his talents and personality defined his character, not his extracurricular activities. He was angry that articles about his usage grieved his mother and sister and made his fans think heroin was cool.

Like many drug addicts, Staley would disappear for days on end. A week after my initial interview, I was desperately trying to track him down for last-minute follow-up questions before my story went to press. I had pretty much given up when the phone rang at 4 a.m. and a sluggish voice at the other end of the line rasped, "This is Layne. I'm sorry I woke you." I groggily tried to assure him that it was no problem, and that I'd love to ask him a few quick questions. "No, I can tell I woke you," he said, then added, "I'm getting ready to do what you were just doing. You can call me later." Then the line went dead.

I don't think he was really planning to do what I was doing. I was deeply content curled up next to my wife in a warm bed. It seems like Staley was never content and frequently felt alone. It's one of the reasons his vocals echoed with such power and so much pain.

The beginning of the end for Layne came in October 1996, when Demri Parrott, his girlfriend, died from a bacterial infection caused by drug abuse. http://www.geocities.com/mark21566/demri.jpg


After that, he pretty much gave up and became the rock and roll casualty he swore to me he would never be and for all intents and purposes, he vanished from view.

On "Sickman" from 1992's Dirt, Staley sang, "I can see the end is getting near/ I won't rest until my head is clear." Sadly, nine and a half years later, the body of Layne Staley was laid to rest.

Jon Wiederhorn

Subject: Re: Layne Staley Story

Written By: RockandRollFan on 06/16/05 at 10:57 pm

What....NO Alice In Chains fans here ??? :\'(

Subject: Re: Layne Staley Story

Written By: Guiness on 06/17/05 at 9:16 am

I saw someone with a Layne Staley picture on all thier posts, but I don't remember who it was, so theres at least one other fan.  Unless it was you and you changed it.

Subject: Re: Layne Staley Story

Written By: jiminy on 06/17/05 at 2:06 pm

I’m the man in the box
Buried in my shit
Won’t you come and save me, save me

Chorus
Feed my eyes, can you sew them shut?
Jesus christ, deny your maker
He who tries, will be wasted
Feed my eyes now you’ve sewn them shut

I’m the dog who gets beat
Shove my nose in shit
Won’t you come and save me, save me

Subject: Re: Layne Staley Story

Written By: agoraphobicwhacko on 06/18/05 at 2:48 am

Layne Staley was an absolute genius. Alice in Chains and Soundgarden that came out of that whole grunge movement. I seen Alice on tour when they first came out. Layne had dreadlocks. I really love the 'Mad Season' album. Its one of the best albums of the 90's. Mad season was supposed to do a double album back in 97/98, but unfortunately it never happened. Probably because the bass player died of a drug overdose. Its also sad that such few people cared when Layne died. But to those of us who care, his music will live on forever.

Subject: Re: Layne Staley Story

Written By: TC1970 on 06/18/05 at 6:09 am


What....NO Alice In Chains fans here ??? :\'(


ME!! I am a huge AIC fan. I was lucky enough to see them in concert. It was a great loss when Layne died but that is the reality of drug use.

Nice article you posted. It showed the good side of Layne and showed that there was a genuine caring person behind the brooding lyrics.

Have you listened to Mad Season?  Awesome CD!!

Subject: Re: Layne Staley Story

Written By: EthanM on 06/18/05 at 8:49 am

I don't know AIC's music (maybe I'd recognize a song or two if I heard it) by I know that Red Ant, who mostly hangs out on the song parody board, is a really big fan.

Subject: Re: Layne Staley Story

Written By: RockandRollFan on 06/18/05 at 2:38 pm


I saw someone with a Layne Staley picture on all thier posts, but I don't remember who it was, so theres at least one other fan.  Unless it was you and you changed it.
I had Layne in my sig line to finish off my May themed Artist A Day.

Subject: Re: Layne Staley Story

Written By: RockandRollFan on 06/18/05 at 2:40 pm


I don't know AIC's music (maybe I'd recognize a song or two if I heard it) by I know that Red Ant, who mostly hangs out on the song parody board, is a really big fan.
Yep, I've talked to him ;)

Subject: Re: Layne Staley Story

Written By: RockandRollFan on 06/18/05 at 2:43 pm


ME!! I am a huge AIC fan. I was lucky enough to see them in concert. It was a great loss when Layne died but that is the reality of drug use.

Nice article you posted. It showed the good side of Layne and showed that there was a genuine caring person behind the brooding lyrics.

Have you listened to Mad Season?  Awesome CD!!

I think also the fact that he lost his girlfriend contributed to him dying :-\\  It's nice to hear that you're a fan though :)

Subject: Re: Layne Staley Story

Written By: tv on 06/18/05 at 3:11 pm

I liked AIC and still do but as a follower of the Alternative Rock scene in 95-96 everybody knew Layne had problems with Drugs. Like the Orginal poster said AIC had been inactive for so long that Layne's death had just flew under the radar.

Subject: Re: Layne Staley Story

Written By: RockandRollFan on 06/18/05 at 10:03 pm


I liked AIC and still do but as a follower of the Alternative Rock scene in 95-96 everybody knew Layne had problems with Drugs. Like the Orginal poster said AIC had been inactive for so long that Layne's death had just flew under the radar.
That would be me (The Original poster)  ;) Yeah, it's sad but true that he'd been out of the public eye for quite a while :\'(

Subject: Re: Layne Staley Story

Written By: kellygoo72 on 09/06/05 at 12:29 am

I ALWAYS LOVED LAYNE AND AIC... I was a fan since 91. His death was sad but not a shock... If u ver get the chance, try to read the story of Layne.... Its so sad, death was a way for peace for Layne... He needed so much and no one here was going to give him what he needed.  In the end, U have to want to be helped... After I read the book, I wrote to Laynes mother and told her what his music meant to me.  She sent me a card back and Invited me to a Memorial for him. Since I live in NYS and Im poor, I was unable to attend.  It was so touching though... I remember his mother sent a photo of Layne as a child climbing a tree... he was so precious, I have it till this day and I always will have it... Long Live AIC    I hope Layne got the peace we all DESERVE!!!! :\'(

Subject: Re: Layne Staley Story

Written By: RockandRollFan on 09/06/05 at 7:23 pm


I ALWAYS LOVED LAYNE AND AIC... I was a fan since 91. His death was sad but not a shock... If u ver get the chance, try to read the story of Layne.... Its so sad, death was a way for peace for Layne... He needed so much and no one here was going to give him what he needed.  In the end, U have to want to be helped... After I read the book, I wrote to Laynes mother and told her what his music meant to me.  She sent me a card back and Invited me to a Memorial for him. Since I live in NYS and Im poor, I was unable to attend.  It was so touching though... I remember his mother sent a photo of Layne as a child climbing a tree... he was so precious, I have it till this day and I always will have it... Long Live AIC    I hope Layne got the peace we all DESERVE!!!! :\'(
Thanks for that very touching story though I'm sorry you couldn't be there I'm sure what you said meant a lot to his mother. Do you have the info on the book so I might read it?  Thanks again for the wonderful post :)

Subject: Re: Layne Staley Story

Written By: Indy Gent on 09/06/05 at 7:36 pm

I wouldn't call myself an AIC fan, but it's still sad the way Staley died. The lyrics were too strong for my taste. His girlfriend was a very beautiful woman. It's a shame both had to die so young, and their deaths could have been prevented if they had taken better care of themselves.  :\'( :\'(

Subject: Re: Layne Staley Story

Written By: Red Ant on 09/06/05 at 8:20 pm

How did I miss this posting?

I am undoubtedly the biggest AiC fan here (or more specifically on amiright). I don't even know where to begin.....

I first heard "Man In The Box" on MTV in 1991, and....I didn't like it to be honest (even now it remains one of my least favorite tracks). I got into AiC more in 1992 with "Dirt" which is unequivocally the best grunge/alternative album ever made. I went and bought "Facelift" (the 2nd best grunge/alternative album ever made) and "Sap". August (19th I believe)1994-Was in Tampa, Fl to watch them open for Metallica and they had cancelled the show. >:(

I got "Jar of Flies" the day it hit the shelves (which was the first EP EVER to debut at #1).

I have nearly every AiC release and a few bootlegs. Enough about me...


Layne's voice was unique, there was no mistaking him for anyone else. The amount of raw emotion (and an excellent range too) he poured into the songs was potent. Yes, dark lyrics and I've heard many say too dark and depressing, which I completely disagree with. When I heard songs like "Confusion" they made me feel better because a pain shared is a pain lessened.

I've heard all of the AiC slams, from "Alice in Pain", "Malice in Chains" to "Layne's Addiction" (parodying Jane's Addiction), and frankly they are somewhat true; everyone that knew anything of the band's inner working knew that Layne struggled for a very long time with heroin, which by the time the self titled album and "Unplugged" were released was clearly taking its toll.

Part of me died on April 20, 2002 when I caught about a 10 second blurb on MTV saying very little about Layne's death, other than he was dead. The inevitable had happened, Layne lost a very long and painful battle with drug addiction.

He was indeed an "Angry Angel", one who is now finally at rest. He is not forgotten, at least not to me. I wrote a 4 part tribute on April 5th of this year to AiC and Layne.



Thanks for posting the story and the kind comments.

R.I.P. Layne~~~







Subject: Re: Layne Staley Story

Written By: La Sine Pesroh on 09/06/05 at 9:33 pm

I honestly think that Layne Staley was one of the greatest rock vocalists of the last 25 years. I've never understood why so many of the most talented artists also wind up being the most self-destructive, and why the least talented ones always wind up living for 70 or 80 years just so they can annoy us for years to come.
 

Subject: Re: Layne Staley Story

Written By: kellygoo72 on 09/07/05 at 12:40 am

I know, I WISHED I could have made it there... It was amazing to me that his mother would personally write me... she told me that it made her feel so good to see the wayHer son touched so many people...... Im sorry, the name of the book slips my mind at the moment. I will get the info on the book IE: Title and Author and Post it here for u.... AIC ROCKS!!!! Gone but NEVER FOrgotten :)

Subject: Re: Layne Staley Story

Written By: chaka on 09/07/05 at 10:59 am

I think it's so sad that they only found Layne's body like 2 weeks (i think) after he had died...he had sung so often in his songs that he was alone and that's what makes the whole story even sadder...and even if most people have forgotten him, well I haven't..his music will always stay with us and isn't his music a piece of art..!
RIP Layne

Subject: Re: Layne Staley Story

Written By: RockandRollFan on 09/07/05 at 11:31 am


I know, I WISHED I could have made it there... It was amazing to me that his mother would personally write me... she told me that it made her feel so good to see the wayHer son touched so many people...... Im sorry, the name of the book slips my mind at the moment. I will get the info on the book IE: Title and Author and Post it here for u.... AIC ROCKS!!!! Gone but NEVER FOrgotten :)
Thanks, I'd really appreciate that. Do you still have his mother's addres as well ???

Subject: Re: Layne Staley Story

Written By: kellygoo72 on 10/08/05 at 12:03 am


Thanks, I'd really appreciate that. Do you still have his mother's addres as well ???
Kelly here... sorry it took me so long to get back to u about the Layne info.. I had to look for it.  I cannot remember the name of the book about him but here are some addresses u can use to get info on the Layne Staley fund.  The address is:  Layne Staley Fund  Eastside Recovery Center 1412-140th PI. N>E  Bellevue WA 98007.  His mother sent a picture of herself to me, she is very pretty along with Laynes beloved kitty cat. She sent me a letter asking me to come to a memorial they had for him, there was a card with the cutest picture of Layne as a child up a tree. His mothers name is Nancy and on the back of her photo she thanked me for loving her son.  There is an address that she would love people to write to her and tell her stories about Layne.  The address is: Nancy McCallum VWC Management 13343 Bel Red Road  Bellevue WA 98005 You can also reach her online at: nancylaynesmom@wytbear.com.  Agian so sorry it took me so long to get back to u, I hope all that wanted the info will use it... RIP Layne, I love u..... Kel :\'(

Subject: Re: Layne Staley Story

Written By: RockandRollFan on 10/08/05 at 6:10 pm


Kelly here... sorry it took me so long to get back to u about the Layne info.. I had to look for it.  I cannot remember the name of the book about him but here are some addresses u can use to get info on the Layne Staley fund.  The address is:  Layne Staley Fund  Eastside Recovery Center 1412-140th PI. N>E  Bellevue WA 98007.  His mother sent a picture of herself to me, she is very pretty along with Laynes beloved kitty cat. She sent me a letter asking me to come to a memorial they had for him, there was a card with the cutest picture of Layne as a child up a tree. His mothers name is Nancy and on the back of her photo she thanked me for loving her son.  There is an address that she would love people to write to her and tell her stories about Layne.  The address is: Nancy McCallum VWC Management 13343 Bel Red Road  Bellevue WA 98005 You can also reach her online at: nancylaynesmom@wytbear.com.  Agian so sorry it took me so long to get back to u, I hope all that wanted the info will use it... RIP Layne, I love u..... Kel :\'(
Hey no problem, Kelly. Thanks for all the info AND for being a true fan ;)

Subject: Re: Layne Staley Story

Written By: kellygoo72 on 10/08/05 at 7:04 pm


Hey no problem, Kelly. Thanks for all the info AND for being a true fan ;)
YW and I hope the info was useful ;)

Subject: Re: Layne Staley Story

Written By: RockandRollFan on 10/09/05 at 5:26 pm


YW and I hope the info was useful ;)
:) Thanks again, and feel free to pm me if you recall the name of the book ;)

Subject: Re: Layne Staley Story

Written By: kellygoo72 on 10/12/05 at 1:18 am


:) Thanks again, and feel free to pm me if you recall the name of the book ;)
  Youve got it....

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