TRIBUTE: Layne Staley


If you want to understand why Layne Staley is an important artist I advise you to push play on the next three videos:

“Wake Up” by Mad Season

“Nutshell” by Alice In Chains

“All Alone” by Mad Season

These three songs are my favourite compositions featuring the voice, lyrics, poetry and artistry of Layne Staley. On the 5th April 2013 it was eleven years since he passed in 2002. Layne Staley was an artist that I mourned  because his music was a saviour to me. To have him fade away at such a young age was a true loss to the music world.

These following two quotes are from Mike Inez (bass player for Alice In Chains) and David de Sola from an American Publication called The Atlantic and they sum up quite beautifully why Layne was such a vital artist:

“I  always thought that us being, like, almost being sequestered in the Pacific Northwest, there was time for bands like Soundgarden and Pearl Jam and Nirvana to marinate as a band and kind of discover their sound before they were put on a world stage. I think that was cool, just being isolated away from Los Angeles and New York was really good for all those bands. And every one of those singers, too, sounds different from the other guy. Truth be told, out of all of them, Layne was my favorite. He was just such an original, just an original American voice.”

Mike Inez

“The Seattle grunge scene that transformed rock in the ’90s produced four great voices, but the most distinct among them belonged to Alice in Chains’ Layne Staley. Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain deeply understood musical dynamics and could simultaneously scream and sing a melody in a way that few others could—think of John Lennon’s searing lead vocal performance on “Twist and Shout.” Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell wailed and hit high notes, putting him at times in Robert Plant or Freddie Mercury territory. Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder combined a Jim Morrisson -style natural baritone range with other punk and rock influences.

But Staley sounded like no one else. His ability to project power and vulnerability in his vocals, as well as the unique and complementary harmonies he created when singing with Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell, made for a style that would get copied for years after Alice in Chains became a household name”

David de Sola

Layne Staley was a compassionate artist and you could tell that underneath the darkness of his lyrics and vocal performances there was a kind hearted human being who desperately wanted to find the light. For all of the rage and pain that filled his music there was always a tenderness. I honestly believe that he was channelling some truly other worldly energy to deliver the sound he did. I think it is unfair for fans, critics and fellow artists to remember and view him solely as a junkie. That breaks my heart when people only remember this part of him, because for me it is a very minor aspect to his story as an artist. I also find it heartbreaking that in the years since Alice In Chains became popular that lesser men, who have no compassion or depth rip off his amazing natural voice. The Eddie Vedder penned tribute song to Layne best sums up this rage and I’d like to post those lyrics:


Lyrics By Eddie Vedder

So all you fools
Who sing just like him
Feel free to do so now
Cuz he’s dead

Using, using, using
The using takes toll
Just so happy to be one
Sad to, sad to think
Sad to think of him more

Lonesome friend, we all knew
Always hoped you’d pull through

No blame, no blame
No blame, it could be you
Using, you can’t grow old using

So sing just like him, fuckers
It won’t offend him
Just me
Because he’s dead

MTV Unplugged: Alice In Chains

I think it’s important to continue to remember Layne because his legacy deserves to be celebrated. I’ve been a fan of Alice In Chains for the past 16 years of my life. Their music has always been there and they remain one of my favourite all-time bands and I think the greatest sign of respect to Layne is the way Alice In Chains have re-grouped and continued making music. Few bands rarely surive the death of lead singer but Alice In Chains have resumed with a deep reverence for Layne’s legacy and the music he made with the band.

For all of the great music that Alice in Chains did I always put his vocal work on the “Mad Season” album as my favourite performance from him with the above videos that I posted proving that.

I’m going to sign off this little tribute to Layne by sharing you the final song he sang with Alice In Chains which is called “Died” – it was recorded in 1998 and released in 1999 as part of their very inclusive Music Bank Box Set release:

We All Miss You Layne

By: Dan Newton



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