First Alice in Chains frontman Layne Staley passed away 15 years ago today, his passing sadly comes as no great surprise to people who knew him had followed his career. Even at the peak of the influential Seattle hard-rock band’s career, Staley had made no sign of his dalliances with rebellion, and he’d dropped off the radar following.
But while it’s not possible to fully separate the guy’s art from his addiction, the simple fact remains that Staley was a massively gifted and charismatic singer. Performances continue to be effective at raising the hairs on the back of your throat more than two decades after the fact.
So rather than dwell in the unfortunate situation of his death, let us love these ten amazing live highlights from his amazing, however all-too-brief career.
While such an injury might have sidelined other bands, the group only pressed on with their singer at a cast.”Layne did not violate his voice, and he doesn’t do any high kicks or dancing moves,” drummer Sean Kinney explained to Rolling Stone during the tour.
If anything, the harm lent an extra element of theatricality into Staley’s performances; after first taking the point with the support of a crutch, then he would return to Sing “God Smack” out of a wheelchair as this clip reveals, the guy could sing his butt off even when seated.
Just the way they address their melodies and harmonies and his vocal style generally were so different than anything else that anybody was writing. you couldn’t help but, With Alice in Chains temporarily on hiatus, due in part to Staley’s drug problems, the singer combined Mad Season, a side project made by Pearl Jam guitarist Mike Macready.
Having finished a stint in rehab himself, Macready expected that playing sober musicians could motivate Staley to dedicate to his resurrection “He had come in, and he’d do these beautiful songs.” The mournful “River of Deceit,” among the Mad Season album’s standout tracks, is gorgeously rendered in this clip from the group’s 1995 concert at Seattle’s Moore Theater, the last show that Staley would do with Mad Season.
After Alice in Chains taped their appearance on MTV Unplugged in the spring of 1996, it marked the first time since January 1994 that all four members of the band. While Staley certainly looked fragile, and while his continuing struggles with addiction gave a newer, darker significance to “Down in the Hole” originally composed by Cantrell concerning the difficulty Of juggling life on the street with long-term relationships his soulful performance of the song seemed to offer some cause for optimism.
Staley looks much worse for the wear, along with his vocals on “Again” one from 1995’s Alice in Chains, and the group was doing live for the first time look tentative, but how he rips into the Facelift classic “We Die Young” is goose bump-raising. It is almost like at least for an instant; he was once again able to tap into the internal fire that powered his vocals from the early days.