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.
really, dude? Do you really have nothing better to do than shit on the dead? Have some fucking respect.
Uncle Creepy says
All I read were facts. What did I miss? He took great care of his cat? Go take your last speedball!
Jessy takach says
After his death and all this time later people are still interested in Laynes, teeth, gangrene and other lies. You forget what he gave to so many people through his music. I had the most beautiful experiences of meeting him a year before his death at a gas station store. I didnt know about AIC and he thought that was funny. We talked for awhile, I honestly did not want to leave his company. I thought he was a handsome beautiful man going through hell on earth. He smiles with his eyes. He gave the most best sincere hug I haven’t felt since. So please STFU about his physical appearances or let’s get a pic of you and point out your flaws. Your talking about an angel on earth. And anyone who spent an hour with him could feel his sincere kindness. Please write about his beautiful heart what he gave and still gives. Our paths crossed in the most common way. Although he was a bit insecure so was I at the time. I’m so sick of the crap talk everywhere after all these years. Those obsessed about Laynes teeth should go to dental school then. People can be morbid and ignorant. Write about his positive beautiful soul or do not write anything!
After all this time, I often wish he could be given a hug & told he was truly loved, thank you so much. He is stunning still!
Kenneth Dame says
Took the words right out of my mouth!
I agree 100%….Layne was definitely the heart of the band. He was beautiful and soo very talented. It’s a shame we lost him as early as we did. Love you Layne ❤️
Lee Allen says
I think the loss of arm rumor was just that a rumor. Now Mark Lanagan almost lost his arm while out in tour with the Screaming Trees with aic headlining the tour. Lanagan had to remain in a Canadian hospital 🏥 for a while to see if his arm would heal. It eventually did, as his very good friend Layne stepped up to sing with the Trees once Lanagan was hospitalized. I honestly believe that was the twist of a rumor. Layne had two arms at his time of passing. I still miss Layne every day
Colleen Jane Combis says
I am bringing my kids to alice in chains on sat oct 8th 2022 at the xfinity cnter, still an amazing band , although, and as I taught my kids about music while they were growing up, it still isn’t the same without that amazing voice and personality he put into a show, I graduated H.S. in 1999 and my kids 1 an adult 1 a teenager and 1 10, have grown up and love the music I treasured while growing up, fuck his appearance, his teeth or even his addictions, which is as I know , an unbelievably hard struggle for anyone, He had a voice that cannot be replicated, a message behind his lyrics and a way to drae you into the meaning and the soul if every word he said, anyone who doesn’t see that should just fuck off cuz 1 day you’ll be in dentures or whatever and not so pretty, as life slowly kills us all, but only the good die young. R.I.P Layne Stanley, forever your fan!
Uncle Creepy says
I got the most beautiful, warmest hug from your mom….. just kidding, it was a blow job.
You are so full of shit!! Did this encounter happen on the moon while the queen was blowing you.
Nicole Novi says
I also think that devoting a whole article to Layne’s teeth decay is not necessary. I am and always will be a big AIC fan and thankful for the music that Layne gave us. I think it’s common sense that if someone dies of drug use their body would not be in the best of shape and it’s morbid to focus on these facts, but unfortunately people like to read and focus on these bad things because it’s just part of human nature, but it’s really a shame, and it isn’t right. By now, all these years later, only positive things should be posted in memoriam of Layne. I think if people want to know more details they should watch an AIC documentary that talks about things with more respect. That’s just my opinion. These are serious topics and not things to be taken lightly and obviously a lot of fans are sensitive when you talk about them. I hope I see less articles like this and more that focus on the talents and positive qualities of Layne and what he gave the world. Rest In Peace Layne I Love You.
Lee Allen says
Johnathan Dauzat says
I knew him ,through HIS music struggle and pain I can still FEEL HIM every time i listen HE WAS ONE OF THE GREATEST EVER! U CAN FEEL HIM THE LIGHT AND THE DARKNESS ITS REAL JUST AS WAS HE
I couldn’t have said it better
Uncle Creepy says
Can you just write a book already?
I got as far as “he was the grunge version of Kurt Cobain”. HELLO! MCFLY! NIRVANA WAS GRUNGE! If you aren’t familiar with the subject, and you don’t bother to properly research it, do the Internet a favor and DON’T WRITE ABOUT IT.
As a recovering addict, a huge fan of Laynes and someone who’s lost their teeth to addiction I find this article pointless. The gifts he gave to this world and the legacy he’s left are far beyond his suffering and loss of teeth because of it.
Lee Allen says
Uncle Creepy says
It’s just as likely he could have lost his teeth from sugar consumption. I’m missing 5 teeth and the rest hurt even years after I stopped my candy bar addiction. I also ate too much cake and pie.
Can you help me?
Melissa Gonzalez says
His voice will already make me feel a way that I cannot put into words. His voice was perfect in every way. He sang effortlessly and it came out better live than in studio every time. I miss this dude… even though I never met him, I miss his contribution…. his gentle and kind vibe and his unmatchable talent.
Lee Allen says
Lee Allen says
Laynes voice will live in each of our hearts as long as we listen to his uniquely soulful voice. Clearly, Layne was beyond gifted with talent, and the disease of addiction loves to destroy those most sensitive and vulnerable among us; Layne was haunted by demons and I personally feel he was too intelligent and sensitive to survive this sometimes cruel and unforgiving life. Abandonment by one’s father is no small event- it destroys many people. My father was abandoned by his dad via suicide, and my dad spent the rest of his 82 years coping with the scars. He was somehow able to bear it and succeed to live a long prosperous life, but most are not so lucky. Add to this the death of Demri, these losses are so painful, yet, sadly the medicine he used to try and numb the pain, only engenders more pain and more suffering by stealing your gifts and dimming your spirit. Heroin is the ultimate seducer, a devil in disguise, a great friend in the beginning and the worst enemy later on. Layne was super special , May he be loved and remembered for his contributions and May his death be a lesson, may it have meaning, may it please help others to never pick up. RIP dear one. 💔
How dare you! Just- ugh! Grow up !
Respect his memory!!!
Herion will break anyone down i dont care who you are .you never beat it or recover from it, i battle it every mourning to night .becoming a addict to herion , its like seeing how life works behind the wall and you see how ugly humanity and the world trully are .once you see it u cant undo it, and layne seen it .ONCE YOU SEE THE DEVIL, HE SEES YOU ..then its to late ..too the young and unborn DONT DO DRUGS PERIOD
Reading this and hearing Layne singing Nutshell makes me cry so hard I can hardly read the article. Idk why even after all these years later i can’t come to terms that he’s gone. I literally watched him start and finish but the in between was just spectacular!!!!
I agree with all of these comments. Layne was so beautiful inside and out, despite what his drug use did to his physical body. I’m not religious, but I do think we are souls and energy and are so much more than our bodies. Layne is one of my favourite singers ever, next to Kurt Cobain and Chester Bennington, RIP to all three of them (and Chris Cornell, Andy Wood, Mike Starr, the list sadly goes on). Layne touches my soul with his voice, when I blast AiC with my good quality speakers I will just lie on my bed and I feel it so deep. I still cry about him. I was only 16 when he died, and it wasn’t really until his death that I got to know any AiC songs. I am 36 now and know them all. In the past few years I have lost my career (I was a nurse) due to a back injury and I have had two back surgeries and now potentially need a third. In this time many “friends” have walked away and a couple flat out betrayed me. I already had depression and cPTSD from growing up with an abusive father. In the past few years and especially the last two, I have become so depressed and the pain is so uncontrollable that I have wished I knew where to get heroin. If something could take away this physical and emotional pain for five minutes… all I do is cry. I think everyone has some not so good coping mechanisms. For Layne it was drugs, for me it’s self harm, for others it’s alcohol or gambling or whatever. I am so suicidal now that I am at the point where I don’t care if I die, even if I die like Layne. Maybe I will join him soon. I don’t know why I’m writing this on an article that no one will probably ever read or respond to this comment, but yeah. RIP Layne. ❤️💙💔
Also, this dude has a lot of spelling mistakes in this article. I was an English major before nursing school, and my god people who become “writers” but can’t spell or edit their work, drives me crazy.
Sylvia, hoping you are feeling better. I am so sorry for your pain & sadness. You sound like a good soul. I wish you so much more & hope you can overcome all of the trauma you have come across. I am a nurse for many years now, age 72. Nursing can destroy your back for sure. Please take care, & all good wishes for you. Lois