Layne Staley was one of those frontmen that only come around every so often in rock ‘n’ roll.
Primarily known as the vocalist for Alice in Chains, Staley had an incredibly distinct and powerful voice, but it was perhaps the emotion he inflected in it that resonated with people so well. From Alice’s 1990 debut album Facelift, to his side project Mad Season‘s sole 1995 release Above, back to Alice’s very last recorded song “Died,” he touched the hearts and souls of so many people around the world.
The singer was always unfairly associated with his addiction battles. Of course, he had them, and it’s counterproductive to pretend that he didn’t suffer, especially considering the majority of their massive 1992 album Dirt dealt with the subject. But he was often ambushed during interviews about his troubles, which you can see footage of online, and some publications did cover stories on him with headlines that highlighted his substance abuse.
“People have a right to ask questions and dig deep when you’re hurting people and things around you,” Staley told Rolling Stone in 1996. “But when I haven’t talked to anybody in years, and every article I see is dope this, junkie that, whiskey this — that ain’t my title. Like ‘Hi, I’m Layne, nail biter,’ you know? My bad habits aren’t my title. My strengths and my talent are my title.”
Alice’s music was transparent about the darkness that the members were often overwhelmed by, but the media certainly pushed the narrative and made it seem that’s all there was to them.
But it wasn’t.
“Layne is so, kind of misrepresented in a way, everybody thought he was like gloom and doom and all negativity,” Alice in Chains bassist Mike Inez told us a few years ago. “But he probably laughed more than anybody. I miss his laugh so much. He was always looking for the joke and always just such a sweetheart of a guy.”
“He had his troubles for sure, but he was just one of the sweetest, most filled-with-life people I think I’ve ever met in this life… God, I just loved every second with him,” he continued. “He was just a good dude. People don’t realize that about him, but we know. So I guess that’s all that really matters.”
Staley died on April 5, 2002, exactly eight years after Nirvana‘s Kurt Cobain died by suicide. We miss them both dearly, but we wanted to celebrate Staley by accentuating the things that we loved about him that made him such a unique frontman.
5 Reasons Why We Love Alice in Chains’ Layne Staley
And why we miss him so dearly.