Classic Rock News

Alice in Chains’ Layne Staley died 20 years ago today

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Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Alice in Chains frontman Layne Staley died April 5, 2002, 20 years ago today.

With his dark lyrics and unique voice — often joined in harmony with guitarist Jerry Cantrell — Staley helped make Alice in Chains one of the big four bands of the ’90s grunge era, alongside Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden.

Alice released their first album, Facelift, in 1990, putting the band on the map with the single “Man in the Box” and its instantly recognizable opening riff. They followed that with 1992’s Dirt, which was certified quadruple-Platinum by the RIAA, and spawned singles including “Would?”, “Them Bones,” “Rooster” and “Down in a Hole.”

Dirt was followed by the EP Jar of Flies, which became the first EP to hit number one on the Billboard 200, and the 1996 album Alice in Chains.

In between his work with Alice, Staley formed the band Mad Season alongside Pearl Jam‘s Mike McCready and other Seattle musicians. The group’s lone album, 1995’s Above, included the hit single “River of Deceit.”

Following the release of Alice in Chains, the band went on an unofficial hiatus, playing only a handful of shows in 1996, and reuniting briefly to record new songs for the 1999 compilation box set Music Bank.

In April of 2002, Staley was found dead of an overdose in his home at age 34. Officials determined that his date of death was April 5, eerily the same day that Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain passed away in 1994.

Following Staley’s death, Alice continued to be inactive before reuniting in 2005 for a charity concert with multiple guest vocalists. In 2006, they announced William DuVall as AiC’s official new singer, who’s remained with the band since.

Alice has released three albums with DuVall, the most recent of which being 2019’s Rainier Fog.

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