Layne Staley

Alice in Chains: Layne Staley’s Untold Story

Layne Staley final gloomy days as the frontman of the Seattle grunge legends

A harrowing account of the legendary singer’s last recordings with Alice in Chains

In this saddening excerpt Alice in Chains: The Untold Story, author David De Sola recounts the final gloomy days of frontman Layne Staley.

In April of 1997, an element known as the Larusta Trust purchased a three-room, 1,500 square-foot fifth-floor apartment suite at a structure in Seattle’s University District for $262,000.

A survey of the property records, when cross-referred to with Alice in Chains collection liner notes and other freely available reports, shows that the Larusta Trust had a similar Bellevue address as the business substance AIC Touring Inc. also, VWC Management, business executives, and bookkeeping firm that has included Alice in Chains among its customers previously.

As per Ken Elmer, Larissa was a reference to John Larusta, the false name Layne Staley was utilizing at that point. The property was gained through this indirect component apparently to keep Layne Staley‘s name off any freely available reports related to the exchange. This apartment suite would be Layne Staley‘s home for the last five years of his life.

Sooner or later, after Layne Staley moved in, maker Toby Wright set up a home recording studio for him. Wright portrayed it as, “I think he had some [Alesis Digital Audio Tapes] up there, a little control center. I set up guitar ways, I set two or three vocal ways, and I think I had a console way too, and some numerous things where he could simply go in, hit a catch, and record… He had a little drum machine and something like that, he used to do demos.”

Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell apparently affirmed the presence of Layne Staley’s solo accounts or demos during a 2010 meeting, saying, “I’d screwing head toward his place and he’d play me crap he’d compose constantly. I would as well. He’d play me stuff, I’d play him stuff, the other way around.” He didn’t indicate the period when he heard these accounts, in case they were from the period when Alice in Chains was as yet dynamic, or then again in case they were from Layne’s later years.

Jerry additionally said in the very meeting that there are not any more unreleased Alice in Chains accounts with Layne Staley‘s vocals, even though drummer Sean Kinney didn’t altogether preclude the chance. “In case there is, it’s nothing that we would need, or he would have needed to deliver.”

Layne Staley
Layne Staley performs with Alice in Chains on MTV Unplugged in 1996 (Image credit: Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)

Jamie, Jim, and Ken Elmer [Layne Staley‘s progression brother] are uninformed of any independent demos Layne Staley may have recorded during his later years, however, he possessed the ability to do as such. The one individual that would know without a doubt is his mom, who declined to be met for this book. Layne Staley did something like one affirmed visitor recording from this period.

His companion Jesse Holt – known as Maxi when he was the artist/guitarist of Second Coming – was chipping away at another task under the moniker the Despisley Brothers – the name probably a play on the R&B bunch the Isley Brothers. Layne Staley re-recorded his visitor vocal for the tune The Things You Do melody, which is musically not the same as the adaptation he recorded with Ron Holt in 1988.

There are somewhere around two recorded adaptations of this melody, the first from the spring or summer of 1996, the second dated November 3, 1997. Musically and melodiously, the two later forms are something similar. Elaborately, Layne Staley‘s vocals sound altogether different from any of his past works. The thing that matters is that in the 1997 rendition, he sounds detached, with no genuine force or feeling in the exhibition.

Jason Buttino, who has accounts of the two renditions, ascribes the change to the reality the subsequent adaptation was recorded over a year after the passing of Demri Parrott, Layne Staley‘s long-lasting sweetheart. Buttino additionally said Jesse Holt – who declined to be met for this book – needed to help the level on Layne Staley‘s vocals in the 1997 form since his voice was so delicate and calm.

Soundgarden separated in the spring of 1997 in the midst of rising strains. The band played what at the time was their last show in Honolulu on February 9. Chris Cornell chose to throw in the towel soon after. Susan Silver Management and A&M Records gave a joint assertion reporting the split.

In October of 1997, as per a report in the Seattle Times, Susan was a specialist during a conversation about rock the board at North By Northwest Music and Media Conference. Susan reacted to an examiner saying her sex never obstructed her advancement – “It didn’t enter my circle of the real world.” The report additionally notes, “She likewise implied, with a murmur, that Alice is going to ‘fall to pieces.’ ”

That fall, Susan reported she was shutting down her administration business. The news was referenced in the Lip Service part of The Rocket, which likewise offered the snide remark, “Sources inside the organization report that Silver will quit for the day shop close to the furthest limit of December. Of course, Soundgarden needn’t bother with a chief any longer, however, who will burp and change Alice in Chains?”

Eventually, after that version was distributed, the magazine got a bundle containing a container of pee and a sack of defecation. It likewise incorporated a note, which read, “Wipe and change this, mother lovers!” The supposition that is it came from Layne.

Susan Silver Management coordinated a Christmas celebration that year, held at a bar in the U District. Randy Biro, an artist who contributed vocals to the 1994 AIC EP Jar of Flies, went to the party, alongside his previous flatmate Kevin Shuss, who has worked with Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam throughout the long term.

“Hello, Layne needs to see you,” Shuss told Biro at the party.

“Extraordinary, was right?”

“He’s right behind you.”

Biro pivoted. “I’m looking past this truly thin, messed up looking person attempting to see where Layne Staley is, and it was Layne Staley. I felt truly abnormal.”

“He had a baseball cap on, he had glasses down to the furthest limit of his nose, and not a lot of teeth. It stunned me from the beginning. It looked like passing. It was gross.” Jim Elmer doesn’t know precisely when Layne Staley‘s tooth misfortune began, however, thinks it was around 1995 or 1996 and said it was a continuous interaction.

Layne Staley welcomed Biro to look at his townhouse, which was around the bend from the bar. He depicted Layne as being exceptionally glad for his home. Layne Staley had a huge back projection TV. “The screwing thing was gigantic. I’d never seen a TV that enormous. He had gotten it through the name some way, and everything he did was stay there and get high and play computer games the entire day.”

Biro, who was perfect, inquired, “Goodness, have you got anything?” – alluding to drugs.

“Better believe it, yet I’m not going to offer it to you.”

“Why not?”

“Since you’re perfect. I’m not going to be essential for this. If you need to go do that, you do it elsewhere. I would prefer not to be essential for it. I don’t need you to wind up like me once more.” That was the last time Biro saw him.

With Alice in Chains on rest, Jerry Cantrell called Toby Wright. “He was accumulating melodies for some time, and afterward he just hit me up and inquired as to whether I would assist with a performance record, which I readily did,” Wright said.

Jerry tapped Sean to play drums, and a progression of visitor artists to record parts, including Mike Inez, Fishbone’s Norwood Fisher, Pantera’s Rex Brown, and Primus’ Les Claypool. Three of the four individuals from Alice in Chains were showing up on this collection, except for Layne.

“By then, they weren’t actually representing whatever reason. There was some sort of something going on. I don’t have the foggiest idea about the reason for it or why,” was Wright’s clarification for whether Jerry attempted to get Layne Staley locally available. Wright said there was more tension on Jerry because, as well as being the principal musician and guitarist, he needed to sing.

The collection was named Boggy Depot – a reference to the space of Oklahoma where Jerry’s dad grew up. Rough Schenck, Mary Mauer, and a team went to Atoka, Oklahoma, on September 7, 1997, to shoot photographs for the collection.

“Incredible excursion, albeit we all nearly got captured for carrying alcohol into a nearby café in a dry region,” Schenck composed. The cover shows Jerry shrouded in mud standing midriff somewhere down in a part of the Boggy River. Jerry made a few outings to Oklahoma as he was composing the collection, and would push his truck to the edge of the stream at the area where the cover was shot.

Jerry sent Rex Brown a tape with 11 tunes he needed him to play on. Brown consented to do it, considering it to be a chance to grow his points of view and to move away from a portion of the issues in Pantera. He went to Sausalito, California, to record his parts.

As indicated by Brown’s diary, he was clashing with Toby Wright during the creation of the collection. He likewise noted Jerry was managing his own habit: “We should simply say I would go past his place now and then and see his canine tied up with no food in the bowl for three screwing days, and that showed to me that possibly something was truly off-base.”

When the collection was done, Wright said, “A ton of uneasiness was repressed during the recording, about its result, its prosperity rate, assumptions, all that sort of stuff. What’s more, I think whenever it was done, blended, [Jerry] supported everything, I think it was an incredible help to him.” The collection, initially booked for an October 1997 delivery, was deferred to the accompanying spring.

Boggy Depot was delivered April 7, 1998, arriving at number 28 on its first week’s Billboard graph. After the collection’s delivery, Jerry clarified that Alice in Chains was his need; however, he would not offer a conclusive response on the situation with the band. “It’s something I never truly needed to do, however how things have worked out, it resembles, why not?” he disclosed to Guitar World of his choice to do an independent collection.

“Frankly, I’d simply be glad being the lead guitarist and artist for Alice in Chains. It’s constantly been my first love, and consistently will be, yet the circumstance being what it is… we’ve been together for quite a while, and the present moment it’s somewhat worked out. It’s an ideal opportunity to leave it alone.”

Inquired as to whether the band had separated, he said, “We haven’t opened up to the world and said that we’ve separated, because how would you bring something to that effect finished? You never need to close that entryway. I love those folks, and ideally, we’ll have the option to accomplish something once more, yet it will not be for some time.” He declined to respond to inquiries regarding Layne Staley‘s wellbeing.

Rough Schenck coordinated the music video for My Song, which was shot on the spot in Los Angeles on June 6 and 7, 1998. “I can recollect the record organization being exceptionally annoyed with me about the idea, disclosing to me that it ‘could never play on MTV,’ ” Schenck composed. Jerry upheld Schenck all through the task and it was recorded as arranged. There is a second form of the video, “a bit racier” than the altered rendition that circulated on MTV.

To help the collection, Jerry set up a live band comprising of Sean, previous Queensrÿche guitarist Chris DeGarmo, Old Lady Litterbug bassist Nick Rhinehart, and previous Fishbone keyboardist Chris Dowd. The gathering handled an initial space for Metallica’s U.S. visit which ran from June through September of 1998. Jerry would frequently close shows with a front of Pink Floyd’s Brain Damage and Eclipse, the keep going two melodies on The Dark Side of the Moon.

Layne Staley
Staley performs live at Ahoy in Rotterdam, Netherlands on October 17 1993 (Image credit: Niels van Iperen/Getty Images)

In August of 1998, Dave Jerden, Bryan Carlstrom, and Annette Cisneros were chipping away at the Offspring’s Americana collection at Jerden’s El Dorado studio. Jerden got a call: Alice in Chains needed to record two new melodies with Layne Staley for Music Bank, their forthcoming box set. With the exception of Mike Inez, it would be a gathering of the band and creation group that made Dirt six years sooner.

Since The Offspring had booked studio time and had all their stuff set up, the lone time Alice in Chains could come in was the few days of August 22-23. The Offspring consented to give Alice access to Chains utilizes the studio. The reality the two groups were endorsed to Columbia Records most likely aided get that going.

For Jerden, it was an easy decision. “We gotta do this,” he told his specialist Bryan Carlstrom. Carlstrom was drained from working extended periods and initially didn’t have any desire to do it until Jerden persuaded him in any case. “I essentially disclosed to him you need to do it. It’s the lone time in my life where I at any point said that to Bryan.”

Jerden was under the impression the band would have been there the whole end of the week, in light of what he heard from his supervisor who had conversed with Susan. He wanted to record a tune a day – fundamental tracks, overdubs, and blending. Since Carlstrom was worn out, Jerden was ready to blend the melodies himself.

Promptly in the first part of the day of Saturday, August 22, aide engineer Cisneros and Elan Trujillo, the sprinter, and studio right hand, came in and completely archived the entirety of the levels and settings on the Offspring’s stuff and the control room hardware before they could bring everything down and set up for Alice in Chains.

Trujillo was invigorated. He had moved back to Los Angeles explicitly to work with Dave Jerden, in enormous part on account of Jerden’s work with Jane’s Addiction and Alice in Chains. After two years, he had the chance to work with Alice in Chains.

“I needed to contain myself admirably well since I resembled going nuts. As far as I might be concerned, this small child, and like one of my number one groups ever, will come in, similar to I will have the option to work with these folks? This is it! This was the perfection of the entire arrangement,” Trujillo said, the energy still obvious in his voice years after the fact.

The creation group was prepared to work by 10 a.m. Sean’s drum tech Jimmy Shoaf and Jerry’s guitar tech Darrel Peters were quick to show up and set up the entirety of their stuff. That day additionally turned out to be Layne Staley‘s thirty-first birthday celebration. At the point when Trujillo discovered, he revealed to Cisneros they ought to get him a cake. She concurred and gave him cash to purchase a cake and candles.

Jerry, Sean, and Mike showed up in the late morning or early evening. Sean got every one of his parts down in around four takes, Shoaf reviewed. Mike recorded his bass parts, and afterward, Jerry recorded his cadence guitar parts and some overdubs. Cisneros had her camera and took a few photographs during the meeting.

There was a feeling of energy before Layne Staley showed up. As indicated by Jerden, accounts fluctuate concerning the specific time he arrived, yet it was late – potentially as late as 3 A.M… At the point when he at long last showed up, the adjustment of his actual appearance was striking even from his last live exhibitions two years sooner, let alone from 1992 when Jerden, Carlstrom, and Cisneros had last seen him.

He had developed his hair down past his shoulders, in its normal earthy blonde tone. He was wearing a white cap and eyeglasses. He had a dull dark shirt and a blue Dallas Cowboys coat. He was wearing a neckband or chain that had what seemed, by all accounts, to be a line swinging from the end. He was additionally conveying a dark cowhide bag.

Layne Staley displayed at the studio and I didn’t remember him. He resembled an 80-year-elderly person. He didn’t have any teeth. I was stunned, most definitely,” Carlstrom reviewed.

Trujillo had a comparable response. “At the point when Layne came in, we were all truly stunned on the grounds that Layne Staley unquestionably didn’t seem as though how he used to look. He had clearly been truly influenced by his substance maltreatment by then since he had decay in his legs. He resembled an elderly person. He had no teeth. It was truly tragic, I was truly shattered.” Although Layne was “clearly high,” Jimmy Shoaf said there were glimmers of the Layne of old. “I figure the main thing he did was get my butt. Layne Staley was as yet inside that shell. The humor and his mind were in there.”

Trujillo additionally noticed how Layne Staley could show up out of it, then, at that point be engaged seconds after the fact. They had requested heated potatoes, and individuals needed margarine. Trujillo put the margarine in the microwave to thaw out it, when Layne, who was sitting in the kitchen relax apparently not focusing, said to him, “You should be cautious, man. That is got tinfoil on it. That will be risky in the microwave.” Layne Staley additionally conversed with Trujillo about computer games – there was a Sony Playstation in the studio parlor, and Layne was giving him tips for how to excel in specific games.

They set Layne Staley up in a control room so he could pay attention to the harsh tracks and work on verses. Trujillo was entrusted with watching out for him and aiding him. Soon after, Layne Staley went to the washroom and remained there for quite a while. He ultimately returned to the control room, where he tracked down the smaller than expected ice chest supplied with soft drinks. Layne Staley took out a jug of root lager. Cisneros and Trujillo saw him sitting on a lounge chair in the control room having fallen asleep, the root lager spilled on the floor. Trujillo tidied it up.

Posterity drummer Ron Welty’s V drums were set up in the control space to rehearse or foster his parts. V drums are little electronic drum packs that can be modified with various audio cues from a memory bank. Layne began messing with the unit. Trujillo told him the best way to change and program the various sounds. Layne Staley went crazy when he found he could program animation impacts for the various cushions.

“That is the thing that he truly loved – the animation sounds,” Trujillo said. “He just got a kick out of that. He was simply looking through the bank sounds on the little mind of the V drums, and simply having a go at everything. He screwing cherished it, he resembled, ‘This is extraordinary. I need to get one of these. Where do these come from?’ ”

Different individuals from Alice in Chains and their team were watching this, glad to see Layne Staley cheerful and having some good times. Not long after, they drew out the cake and sang Happy Birthday, and gave him a birthday card that they had all marked. Cisneros snapped a photo of Layne on the drumset as he was going to victory the candles.

While Layne was messing about, he showed no sign of being prepared to work. Ultimately, Layne said he needed to do everything – compose verses and track his vocals – that evening. By that point, it was just about five AM, and everybody was depleted, some having been in the studio for right around 20 hours. Jerden, under the impression they actually had the following day to work, met with the band and chose to throw in the towel, revealing to them Carlstrom was worn out and they’d return and finish on Sunday.

By then, Layne Staley said he needed to return to Seattle to go to his sister’s wedding, yet Jerry curtly cut him off. As indicated by Jerden, he said, “Laaaaaayne,” in an exasperated manner of speaking.

“[Layne Staley] transformed into this young child that had been denounced seriously by his folks. It presumably didn’t seem like anything, yet I’ll reveal to you it was perhaps the most unusual thing I at any point saw, how Jerry simply wasn’t enduring Layne’s bologna any longer, and Layne who had a particularly solid character had totally transformed into this nothing.”

“He wasn’t crying, yet he seemed as though he was going to cry. He returned to around a four-year-old kid,” Jerden clarified. “Layne Staley behaved like he was apprehensive, frightened by Jerry. He just stayed there and froze up. I don’t recall him saying something else that evening. Jerry completely got me, he was cool with the way that we needed to stop and he didn’t contend with me by any means. Jerry didn’t contend, the remainder of the band didn’t contend. He realized that I’d been informed that I had Layne until Sunday, and that horse crap of him saying the entirety of the abrupt, he needs to go to a wedding?”

“So I exploded and I said, ‘Tune in, I’m not here to be your companion. I have something important to take care of,'” he told Layne Staley. Trujillo figures Layne might have thought Jerden was distraught at him, perhaps from recollections of the blowup during the Dirt meetings when Jerden defied him about his medication use.

Jerden was incredulous, thinking Layne Staley was blaming the wedding so he could return to Seattle to get drugs. Whatever his aims were, proof shows Jerden’s distrust was precise. As indicated by freely available reports from the King County Recorder’s office, Liz Elmer and her life partner Greg Coats applied for a marriage permit on May 26, 1998, were hitched on June 1, and documented the marriage testament on June 11 – over two months before this recording meeting.

As per Layne Staley‘s other sister Jamie Elmer, “They got hitched exactly at the equity of the harmony, and they had their two dearest companions there. No one else was there.”

“I’ve seen photos of my sister and her significant other Greg in the court. Also, it’s with her dearest companion and Greg’s companion. However, it was them four, and I’m quite darn sure that Layne wasn’t there.”

There was a wedding party in mid-June that “Layne Staley might have moved toward coming to, yet didn’t make it to, in light of the fact that that is simply in some cases what might occur. Thus, amazingly, he might have certainly been attempting to arrive for a wedding party, or that was his arrangement. Be that as it may, I don’t recall him there.” Jim Elmer, Ken Elmer, and Kathleen Austin likewise went to the party. Every one of the three said Layne was not there.

By then, the musicians left. Jerden attempted to book a studio in Seattle for Layne’s benefit to record his vocals, yet by that point, Layne Staley would not like to work with him any longer. Susan was furious.

“Susan Silver hit me up and read me the screwing riot act. She says my vocation depended on Alice in Chains, which is absolute horse crap. I’ve worked with a ton of celebrities before that. I had a ton of hit records that I created previously,” Jerden reviewed. Drifter heard about the scene and composed an anecdote about it.”

Toby Wright got a call from Layne Staley and Kevan Wilkins, inquiring as to whether he would complete the venture.

He booked time at Robert Lang Studios to record the vocals and blend them in with the material from the meeting with Jerden.

“By then, Jerry and Layne weren’t getting along by any means. So I had one person in, and I would have another person in after he was finished. Those two tunes required a great deal of Pro Tool’s altering. That was one of the main occasions Alice was ever even on Pro Tools. Since Layne would accomplish something, he’d return home, Jerry would come in, I’d transform it for him, he’d return home. Layne would come in and hear what we did, and he’d transform it once more. So it was a great deal of advanced control,” Wright said.

Recording Layne Staley‘s vocals were troublesome due to the deficiency of his teeth, which brought about a drawl that influenced his discourse and singing capacity. Subsequently, they attempted to avoid verses that complemented his drawl.

“It was somewhat difficult to do that since it appears basically wherever on those tracks. In any case, it was simple for me on the grounds that Layne and I got along truly well. So I didn’t have any issue with him whatsoever. It was simply an issue of getting him into the studio, having him plunk down and get inventive.”

Get Born Again and Died were the last tunes Layne recorded with Alice in Chains.

From Alice in Chains by David de Sola. Copyright © 2015 by the author and reprinted by permission of Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, LLC.


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