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Layne Staley

  • Born
    August 22, 1967
    🇺🇸 Kirkland, WA
  • Died
    April 5, 2002
Layne Thomas Staley (born Layne Rutherford Staley) was an American musician best known as the original lead singer and co-songwriter of the rock band Alice in Chains, which rose to international fame in the early 1990s as part of Seattle's grunge movement, becoming known for Staley's distinct vocal style and tenor voice as well as the harmonized vocals between him and guitarist/vocalist Jerry Cantrell. Staley was also a member of the glam metal bands Sleze and Alice N' Chains, and the supergroups Mad Season and Class of '99.

"Man in the Box", the second single from Alice in Chains debut album, Facelift (1990), garnered Staley critical recognition for his vocal style. Alice in Chains' EP, Jar of Flies (1994), debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, making it Alice in Chains' first record-and the first-ever EP-to top the chart. However, Staley's deteriorating condition due to heroin abuse led him to enter a rehabilitation clinic. He began to work on a side project with several Seattle musicians, Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, Barrett Martin of Screaming Trees and John Baker Saunders of The Walkabouts, which came to be Mad Season, while Alice in Chains went into hiatus.

During Alice in Chains' hiatus, reports of Staley's addiction began to gain widespread circulation in fan and media communities, in part due to changes in his physical condition brought on by prolonged heroin abuse. On April 10, 1996, the band returned with a performance on MTV Unplugged performance in New York; it was their first concert in two-and-a-half years.

From mid-1996 onwards, Staley was out of the public spotlight, never to perform live again. His struggle for much of his adult life with depression and drug addiction resulted in his death from a speedball overdose at the age of 34 on April 5, 2002. Staley was ranked at No. 27 on Hit Parader's list of "Heavy Metal's All-Time Top 100 Vocalists" in 2006, and at No. 42 on Complex's magazine list of "The 50 Best Lead Singers of All Time" in 2012. Seattle officially declared August 22, 2019 as "Layne Staley Day."

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