Layne Thomas Staley was born on August 22, 1967 to Nancy and Phil Staley. At the age of 7, his parents divorced. When he was 12, Layne developed an interest in drums. He played in a few glam bands, but, since he was always singing while playing, someone suggested he become a singer. And he did.
Sleze/ Alice ‘n Chainz
Around 17, Layne joined Yanni Bacolas and formed the glam band Sleze. The name changed to Alice ‘n Chainz when the members were drunk and trying to think of an over-the-top name for a band that dressed in drag and played thrash metal. As Alice ‘n Chainz, the band released two demos, known as Demo #1 and Demo #2.
Layne Meets Jerry Cantrell
In 1987, at age 19-20, Layne met Jerry Cantrell, the guitarist for Diamond Lie. Layne offered Jerry a place to stay, if he became a sideman for his band, Jerry agreed, only if Layne would be a sideman for his band, Diamond Lie.
Layne Joins Jerry(Mothra/ F**k)
In 1987, Layne joined Jerry for good with Mike Starr and Sean Kinney. They recorded a demo on an 8-track in a tree house studio of a friend, which became known as the Treehouse Tapes. The band had not yet settled on a name, using Mothra and F**k as names. Until they finally landed on Alice in Chains, which was a variation of Alice ‘n Chainz.
Alice In Chains
Layne and the guys dropped their cheesy glam look for a more Guns n’ Roses-esque look. They also rerecorded the Treehouse Tapes on a 24-track which got them noticed and signed.
At the age of 23, Layne dropped his Guns n’ Roses look and began to dress in a more hippie-esque attire. Donning combat boots, tie dye shorts and vests, and crazy wood beaded necklaces. In mid-’90, he got dreads and began to dress in tight black pants, baggy black or white shirts, combat boots and sunglasses. Layne did have a minor drug addiction but went to rehab and got sober. But, when his father saw him on the cover of a magazine, he came back into Layne’s life and began to do drugs with Layne, namely heroin, getting Layne addicted to heroin for good.
At the age of 25, Layne was highly addicted to heroin. His addiction was the basis for Dirt. Layne had a new, more dignified look now. Wearing jeans, occasionally a button down shirt, slicked back hair, and his trusty sunglasses. Through Layne’s struggles, he stepped up and wrote 2 songs, “Hate to Feel”, and the masterpiece, “Angry Chair.”
Jar of Flies was released, but due to the hiatus of the band, no tour was held to support it. Layne had joined up with Mike McCready, Justin Baker Saunders, and Barrett Martin to form his side project, Mad Season. The released one album and played some shows to support it.
Alice in Chains released their self titled album. At the age of only 28, Layne was severely addicted to heroin and was often late or absent for recording and rehearsal sessions for the album.
In 1996, Alice in Chains did Unplugged. Layne appeared in bad shape. He was pale white, but happy and smiling, giving a great performance for Unplugged. After that show Alice and Layne toured opening for KISS but dropped out after a few shows due to Layne’s condition and the death of his ex-fiancee, Demri Parrott. Layne became very reclusive.
Layne recorded “Another Brick in the Wall” with the Class of ’99 supergroup. Bandmates report that Layne showed up a sickly green and was missing teeth. He didn’t appear in the video. Layne got with Alice to record two more songs, Get Born Again, a song about religious hypocrisy, and Died, a song about his late ex-fiancée, Demri Parrott.
Layne became a recluse. He did not leave his condo and rarely answered phone calls. In 2001, he did appear at a family reunion and to see his newborn nephew, Oscar. There is a photo of him holding Oscar that his mother has not and, most likely, will not, be released. Reports of the photo state that Layne had shoulder length gray hair and gray beard and had a sickly appearance, but is smiling nonetheless.
In the early months of 2002, a very reclusive and weak Layne was interviewed for the last time. He was vomiting and crapping all over himself due to liver failure from the heroin use. Sadly, Layne died on April 5, 2002 of a speedball overdose. Unfortunately, he wasn’t found until two weeks later, because no one noticed anything wrong as he very rarely talked to anyone. It wasn’t until an anonymous caller told the police she hadn’t heard from Layne in a couple weeks. He was only 34.
Although Layne lived a short life, his legacy lives on through his music and powerful voice. He has inspired many artists from Godsmack(They don’t really count…) to Creed. He has also inspired people to kick their drug habits with his views on drugs, he didn’t want to do drugs, after a certain point, he had to. He didn’t encourage drug use, he was against it ans was trying to quit, but, sadly, he couldn’t.