Layne Staley

Layne Staley was born on August 22, 1967. He was an American musician, songwriter, and the original lead vocalist of the rock band Alice in Chains, which rose to international fame in the early 1990s as part of Seattle’s grunge movement. His unusual vocal style and tenor voice, as well as his harmonizing with guitarist/vocalist Jerry Cantrell, made him a household name. Staley also played in the glam metal band Sleze, as well as the supergroups Mad Season and Class of ’99.

Fast Facts

Full Name:

Layne Thomas Staley

Birth date:

August 22, 1967

Death date:

April 5, 2002 (age 34)

Zodiac Sign:

Leo

Height:

6' 1"

Net Worth:

$5 million

Background

Layne Thomas Staley was born on August 22, 1967, in Kirkland, Washington, to Phillip Blair Staley and Nancy Elizabeth Staley. Staley was reared as a Christian Scientist but became skeptical of religion as an adult. Staley began playing the drums at the age of 12 and was influenced by bands such as Black Sabbath and Deep Purple. In 1984, he formed Sleze with a group of Shorewood High School students. Staley and his band Sleze appeared in the low-budget film “Father Rock” in 1985. Sleze evolved into Alice N’ Chains, a speed metal band, in 1986.

While working at Music Bank rehearsal studios, Staley met guitarist Jerry Cantrell at a party in Seattle. Cantrell had heard Staley’s voice while seeing him play with his former band, Alice N’ Chains. For nearly a year, the two fast friends shared a decaying rehearsal space as housemates. In 1987, Staley joined Cantrell’s band on a full-time basis. The final demo, completed in 1988, was named The Treehouse Tapes and found its way to the music managers Kelly Curtis and Susan Silver. Curtis and Silver passed the demo on to Columbia Records’ A.&.R. representative Nick Terzo who arranged a meeting with label president Don Ienner. Terzo signed Alice in Chains to Columbia Records in 1989 based on The Treehouse Tapes. ‘Man in the Box,’ with lyrics written by Staley, became a huge hit, and Alice in Chains made a cameo in Cameron Crowe’s 1992 film “Singles.”

Many people believe that Staley’s lyrics address his personal problems, such as his drug addiction and despair. For Alice in Chains, Cantrell was largely responsible for writing the music and lyrics, and Staley later added more vocals. Before the 2009 release of “Black Gives Way to Blue,” Staley would eventually be given credit for over half of the lyrics from the whole discography. He also contributed guitar to the songs ‘Angry Chair’ and ‘Hate to Feel.’ In November 1995, the group released “Alice in Chains,” which is also known as “Tripod.” After debuting at the top of the American charts, it was given double platinum status. Staley wrote all of the lyrics except ‘Grind,’ ‘Heaven Beside You,’ and ‘Over Now.’ One of Staley’s final performances with Alice in Chains was at the M.T.V. Unplugged concert in New York.

Career timeline

1984
He and Other Students Form Sleze

Staley and other students of Shorewood High School form a band and name it Sleze.

1987
He Starts Working with Jerry Cantrell

While working at Music Bank rehearsal studios, Staley meets guitarist Cantrell at a party in Seattle.

1989
His Band Signs with Columbia Records

Staley and his new band make a demo titled The Treehouse Tapes, and based on it, the band is signed to Columbia Records.

1990
His Band Release Their Debut Album

Alice in Chain releases their debut album, "Facelift,” which establishes the band's characteristic sound.

1996
His Band Performs at M.T.V. Unplugged

One of Staley's final shows with Alice in Chains is an M.T.V. Unplugged performance in New York.

Why We Love Layne Staley

  1. He touched the hearts of many

    Staley had a tremendously distinct and powerful voice, but it was the emotion he instilled in it that people responded to so beautifully. From the band’s 1990 debut album “Facelift” to his side project Mad Season's sole 1995 release, ‘Above,’ to the band's final recorded song ‘Died,’ Stanley touched the hearts and souls of so many people all around the world.

  2. His transparency

    Stanley’s openness regarding his drug use was undoubtedly admirable. Although he may not have spoken much about his personal habits in interviews, his band's songs revealed a lot of the truth.

  3. He was excellent and caring

    With the demise of Staley, those who knew him well recall him as severely tormented yet enormously brilliant. He was described as a kind individual who made significant contributions to bringing an underground genre into the mainstream.

5 Surprising Facts

  1. His desire to be a singer

    Staley expressed his desire to be a singer in his Dr. Seuss book, "All About Me," when he was nine.

  2. His musical career as a drummer

    Stanley’s love of music was conveyed through percussion when he was 12; in his teens, he played drums for a few glam-rock bands.

  3. He once performed with a broken leg

    Stanley fractured his foot in an A.T.V. accident just before Alice in Chains began their tour opening for Ozzy Osbourne in promotion of the “No More Tears” album; as a result, the singer had to use crutches to prop himself up onstage.

  4. The songs dedicated to him

    Many bands, including Cold, Staind, Pearl Jam, Zakk Wylde, and others, poured their memories and affection for Staley into songs written following his passing.

  5. The album influenced by him

    Metallica's James Hetfield recently stated that "Death Magnetic" began lyrically as a homage to Staley and all those who have sacrificed themselves in the service of rock 'n' roll.

Layne Staley FAQs

How did Layne Staley die?

The autopsy and toxicology report on Staley’s body found that he died from a speedball, a heroin and cocaine cocktail.

Who replaced Layne Staley?

The band did not try to replace Staley. Instead, they employed another vocalist named William DuVall.

Where did Layne Staley die?

Staley was discovered at his Seattle home. He died two weeks before his body was discovered, on April 5.

Layne Staley’s birthday dates

YearDateDay
2023August 22Tuesday
2024August 22Thursday
2025August 22Friday
2026August 22Saturday
2027August 22Sunday

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