Who Is Layne Staley?
No one can talk about the grunge movement without mentioning the name of Layne Staley. He was part of one of the most influential bands to come out of Seattle during the early 90s, Alice in Chains.
AIC was grunge personified and its frontman, Staley, is also famous. He’s known as the grunge version of Kurt Cobain. Staley might’ve lived a longer life than his counterpart but there are many who feel that he was also the better vocalist.
Staley was known for his harmonizing style and tenor singing. In AIC, Staley’s voice was the one that everyone heard. His distinct and grimy vocals brought life to their music.
He also has a knack for writing lyrics that were dark and emotional and his songwriting and singing complemented each other and gave Alice in Chains its own special sound.
Although he wasn’t as famous as Cobain, he was still a major figure in the Seattle grunge scene. There were even rumors that Alice in Chains got signed with Columbia Records after Nirvana’s Nevermind album became a big hit.
Staley was a product of a broken home and never completed his high school education, but music became an outlet for him to express himself and channel his emotions through melodies. According to several biographies, he knew by the time he was nine years old that he wanted to be a signer.
He started singing with a rhythm band and was playing drums by the time he was twelve. He also played in several "glam bands" during this time. A glam band is basically a rock band that imitates the flamboyant stage persona of David Bowie, Slade, and other rock bands that wore makeup.
In 1984, he joined a group of high school students in a band called Sleze, which made a cameo appearance in a low-budget public access documentary called "Father Rock."
In 1986, Sleze became Alice N’Chains. In 1987, Staley met Jerry Cantrell at a party. Cantrell was homeless at the time, so Staley invited him to spend the night. Cantrell was just starting out as a songwriter, but Staley saw his potential and the two became friends quickly.
Two weeks after they began to work together, Alice N’Cahins morphed as Staley joined Cantrell and they rebranded their project to Alice in Chains. Things really started to happen for them in 1989, with huge amounts of record labels interested in signing them.
After eventually signing with Columbia Records, they released Facelift which was a huge hit, and got nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance for the song "Would?"
The band’s second album came out in 1992 and it was called Dirt. It became an even bigger success than their previous album selling over 6 million copies in the US. But because of Staley’s drug addiction, the band couldn’t do much to tour or support the sales of Dirt.
What drugs was Layne using?
Staley’s personal life has been filled with drug addiction. He was addicted to heroin for nearly the entirety of his adult life. The guitarist in Alice in Chains, Jerry Cantrell, has mentioned that he tried to get Staley to help many times, but it always seemed like his efforts were futile.
Staley was known to regularly use cannabis, heroin, cocaine, crack and morphine. These drugs were often combined in speedball. Speedball is a term used for intravenous drug use, particularly the simultaneous use of cocaine and heroin.
This combination is particularly dangerous because the stimulating effects of cocaine are added to the depressant effect of heroin.
Layne likely started using heroin due to the double influence of his father and Demri Parrott, his fiance.
His father left Layne when he was young but later made it a point to find him when he was rich and successful and used him to acquire heroin for his own addiction.
Layne felt conflicted about ending up addicted like his father.
Parrott, Layne’s fiance, also introduced him to heroin and never became sober herself, making it very difficult for Layne to do the same, even when he was in rehab.
What happened to Layne Staley’s teeth?
Layne’s step father says that his tooth loss started in either 1995 or 1996 and was a gradual process.
It was already established by 1996 that Layne Staley had been smoking crack, in addition to the myriad of other drugs he was also using.
His unfettered drug use and his severely poor oral hygiene made his teeth rot and fall out.
Smoking crack leads to tooth decay and gum erosion because it’s acidic when mixed w/ saliva. It also causes you to grind your teeth a lot.
The first time it’s on record of someone seeing him with next to no teeth was in late 1997. From his last recordings in 1998, they were basically all gone and it effected his singing.
If you listen to his later recordings like Get Born Again, Died, and his cover of Another Brick In The Wall, you can hear his lisp because of his missing teeth. They also had to change some lyrics on the songs so his lips wouldn’t be so evident.
Did Layne Staley have teeth in Unplugged?
In 1996, the band reunited to perform for MTV Unplugged in New York. The group had been on hiatus for nearly three years, and people were eager to catch a glimpse of Staley.
Although Layne Staley appeared to be in poor health at the time, he was excited about the show and showing off his softer side.
He was self-conscious about his teeth at this time. A combination of poor hygiene, nutrition, and drug use had left his teeth in poor condition. This led to the rumor that Staley had totally lost all his teeth, although this was not the case at the time.
His teeth probably weren’t in great condition but there were still intact at the time.
Did Layne Staley lose his arm?
In 1998, Staley contracted gangrene as a result of his declining lifestyle. He couldn’t even ingest food fully at this point and survived off of supplements.
There were rumors that Staley lost an arm to gangrene, but there is no photographic evidence of this injury. Though, certainly, he was badly scarred and marked from his constant drug use and covered in abscesses.
What happened to Layne Staley from 1999 to 2002?
During this period, following the death of Demri Parrott in 1996, Staley became even more depressed and essentially became a hermit, never leaving his condo in Seattle.
He spent most of his time playing video games, making art, and doing drugs. Despite the efforts of friends and family, he did not return to rehab.
When and how did Layne Staley die?
On April 19, 2002, Staleys accountants notified his agent that he had not withdrawn any money for a few weeks. Eventually, his parents contacted the police, and they found that he had died in his condo at least two weeks earlier.
The autopsy report indicated that Staley had died from a mixture of heroin and cocaine – a speedball, as described above.
The coroner believes he died on April 5th, the same day as Kurt Cobain eight years before. He weighed 86 pounds at the time of his death, despite being over six feet tall.
Bandmate Mike Starr was the last to see Staley alive and wished that he had called 911 to save Staley. He felt guilty about this for the rest of his life until he too died of a drug overdose some years later.