Who was Layne Staley?
Layne Staley was the lead singer and co-songwriter for the rock band ‘Alice in Chains.’ One of the well-known rock singers to have emerged in the 20th century, Staley became an international rock star during the ‘grunge rock movement,’ a subgenre of alternative rock music. He changed the face of rock music and is widely regarded as one of the best male rock vocalists. Introduced to the field of music at a very young age, he started playing the drums at the age of 12 and went on to play for many bands during his teenage years. Despite the growing popularity of his band ‘Alice in Chains,’ Staley gradually stepped out of the spotlight and kept himself out of the public eye. Unfortunately, his personal life was not as peaceful; he started using drugs and suffered from addiction problems all his life. His drug addiction eventually led to his tragic death at the age of 34.
Childhood & Early Life
Layne Staley was born Layne Rutherford Staley on August 22, 1967, in Kirkland, Washington, USA, to Phil Staley and Nancy Staley. His parents separated when he was just seven and he had to grow up with his mother and stepfather Jim Elmer.
He was raised with Catholic values and attended ‘Meadowdale High School,’ located in Lynnwood, Washington. Eventually, he adopted his stepfather’s surname.
He had a keen interest in music from his childhood and started playing drums for several bands during his teenage years and aspired to be a singer in future.
In 1984, he became part of a students’ metal band called ‘Sleze.’ He then started playing across Seattle as a member of ‘Alice N’ Chains,’ a band formed by the former members of ‘Sleze.’ The name of the band was eventually changed to ‘Alice in Chains.’
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On August 21, 1990, the band released their first album ‘Facelift.’ The album featured the hit single ‘Man in the Box,’ which was written and composed by him.
Released in 1992, their second studio album ‘Dirt’ went on to become a massive success. The album featured singles, such as ‘Would?,’ ‘Rooster,’ ‘Angry Chair,’ ‘Them Bones,’ and ‘Down in a Hole.’
In 1994, ‘Alice in Chains’ came up with their album ‘Jar of Flies,’ which received positive critical reviews and became one of their most successful albums.
In 1995, after a year of struggle with his heroin addiction, the band ‘Alice in Chains’ came together for their self-titled album. The album was based on the themes of depression and drug use; this was his last album with the band.
In 1996, he was part of the ‘Alice in Chains’ MTV Unplugged performance. The same year, he also performed in Kansas City, Missouri.
In 1998, he helped record two ‘Alice in Chains’ tracks, namely ‘Get Born Again’ and ‘Died.’ These tracks were released the following year on the ‘Music Bank’ box, a box set compilation album put together with the help of ‘Columbia Records.’
The album ‘Dirt’ peaked at number six on the ‘Billboard 200’ and was 4xplatinum certified. It was one of the bestselling albums of 1992 and sold over five million copies across the globe.
Released in 1994, ‘Jar of Flies’ peaked at number one on ‘Billboard 200’ and received a triple platinum certification. The album sold four million copies across the globe. In 2011, the album was ranked fourth on ‘Guitar World’ magazine's list of ‘top ten guitar albums of 1994.’
Awards & Achievements
In 2006, he was featured on ‘Hit Parader’ magazine, in which he was ranked 27th on their list of ‘Heavy Metals’ All-Time Top 100 Vocalists.’
Personal Life & Legacy
By 1992, he had started using drugs. Due to his drug addiction, the band ‘Alice in Chains’ couldn’t go on tours to promote their album ‘Dirt.’
In 1994, his drug addiction problem reached its zenith and he went to a rehabilitation centre.
In 1996, his ex-girlfriend and ex-fiancée Demri Lara Parrott lost her life due to accidental overdose of drugs.
From 1999 onwards, he kept himself out of the public eye and started spending more time alone in his Seattle condo. He isolated himself and little is known as to what he did during this time.
On April 19, 2002, at the age of 34, his dead body was found at his University District apartment in Seattle. It is believed that he died on April 5, 2002. His autopsy report stated that he had died due to an overdose of heroin and cocaine.
In 2002, his mother Nancy McCallum, along with substance abuse and alcohol abuse counsellor Jamie Richards, set up the ‘Layne Staley Fund,’ a non-profit organization that works with the objective of helping drug addiction victims and providing them medical treatment.
This musician’s dead body was discovered in his apartment two weeks after his death. He was surrounded by drug paraphernalia and his body was so decomposed that it was almost unidentifiable.