Place of Death
Seattle, Washington, USA
Cause of Death
Mixture of Heroin and Cocaine known as Speedball
Claim to Fame
Lead singer of Alice in Chains
Kirkland, Washington, USA
Soundtrack, Music Department
Has Detailed Data (New)
Profile Bio Text
Layne Thomas Staley (August 22, 1967 – c. April 5, 2002) was an American musician who served as the lead singer and co-lyricist of the rock group Alice in Chains, which was formed in Seattle, Washington in 1987 by Staley and guitarist Jerry Cantrell. Alice in Chains rose to international fame as part of the grunge movement of the early 1990s. The band became known for its distinct vocal style, which often included the "snarl-to-a-scream" vocals of Staley, as well as the harmonized vocals of Staley and Cantrell. Staley was also a member of the supergroups Mad Season and Class of `99. He struggled throughout his career with severe drug addiction, which eventually led to his death in April 2002.
Layne Staley was born to Phil Staley and Nancy McCallum (née Layne) in Kirkland, Washington. He was seven years old when his parents divorced, after which he was raised by his mother and stepfather, Jim Elmer. He took his stepfather`s name while in high school and was known for some time as Layne Elmer. In early 2002, shortly before his death, he would describe the experience of witnessing his parents` divorce: "My world became a nightmare, there were just shadows around me. I got a call saying that my dad had died, but my family always knew he was around doing all kind of drugs. Since that call I always was wondering, `Where is my dad?` I felt so sad for him and I missed him. He dropped out of my life for 15 years." In that same interview he also said that he was convinced that if he became a celebrity his dad would return.
Staley began playing drums at age 12; he played in several glam bands in his early teens, but by this point, Staley had aspirations of becoming a singer. His bandmates found this amusing, and they would poke fun at him, which infuriated him. He proceeded to trade in his drum set for a microphone and started the band Alice In Chains with co-founder Jerry Cantrell.
The band released their debut album Facelift on August 21, 1990. Their lead single, "Man in the Box", with lyrics written by Staley, became a huge hit. Facelift has since been certified 2x platinum by the RIAA for sales of two million copies in the United States. "Man in the Box" is widely recognized for its distinctive "wordless opening melody, where Layne Staley`s peculiar, tensed-throat vocals are matched in unison with an effects-laden guitar" followed by "portentous lines like: `Jesus Christ/Deny your maker` and `He who tries/Will be wasted` with Cantrell`s drier, less-urgent voice."
Following the success of Facelift, the band went on to record two more studio albums - Dirt and Alice in Chains - as well as two EPs - Sap and Jar of Flies. Although Cantrell wrote or co-wrote along with Sean Kinney, Mike Starr, and Mike Inez almost all of the music, Staley wrote more and more lyrics as time went on, eventually receiving credit for about half the lyrics from their entire catalog as well as writing three songs musically and lyrically - "Hate to Feel", "Angry Chair" and "Head Creeps". Staley`s lyrics are largely viewed as having often dealt with his struggle against heroin addiction as well as other personal troubles. The album Dirt showcased the former in songs like "God Smack", "Junkhead", "Sickman" and "Angry Chair", the only single where Staley wrote the music as well as the lyrics.
The other members of Alice in Chains, seeing Staley`s deteriorating condition, opted not to tour in support of their 1994 EP Jar of Flies. Following its release, Staley entered a rehabilitation clinic and began to work on a side project with several Seattle musicians, including Mike McCready of Pearl Jam and Barrett Martin of Screaming Trees. The band worked on material for several months and eventually scheduled a show at the Crocodile Cafe under the name The Gacy Bunch. Within a few weeks, the band changed its name to Mad Season. In January 1995, Mad Season performed two songs on Pearl Jam`s Self Pollution Radio broadcast, "Lifeless Dead" and "I Don`t Know Anything". The band completed an album, titled Above, which was released in March 1995. The first single, "River of Deceit", became a modest success on alternative radio, and "I Don`t Know Anything" still receives occasional airplay. A live performance filmed at the Moore Theater in Seattle was released in August 1995.
During Alice in Chains` hiatus, reports of Staley`s addiction began to gain widespread circulation in fan and media communities, in part from changes to his physical condition brought on by prolonged heroin abuse. Referencing Staley`s guest-singing appearance with Tool on the song "Opiate", the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported, "At KISW-FM`s `Rockstock` concert at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds in Bremerton in May 1994 -- just a month after the death of Kurt Cobain -- Staley made a surprise appearance. He looked sickly and wor
Couple Profile Source
Full Name at Birth
Layne Thomas Staley
Singer, Songwriter, Musician
Meadowdale High School, Lynnwood, Washington, USA
Phil Staley, Jim Elmer (step father)
Nancy McCallum Staley
Has Detailed Data (105)
Page Display = 2 (Legacy)
Has Detailed Data (76)
Music Profile Complete
Music Genre (Text)
Alternative metal, heavy metal, grunge, alternative rock, blues rock, glam metal, speed metal, industrial rock
Vocals, guitar, drums, percussion, bongos, bass guitar
Alice in Chains, Mad Season, Class of '99, Alice N' Chains, Sleze