Alice in chains
In 1987 at a party in Seattle the first steps towards the creation of Alice In Chains were taken. By chance Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell met, hit it off and decided that they should start a band together. Jerry knew Mike Starr and asked him to play bass for the band. Luckily Mike's sister was dating the drummer Sean Kinney at the time, and he was invited on board as well. They called themselves Alice 'n' Chains and performed their first gig on August 5th 1987. After a few gigs they changed there name to Diamond Lie, before settling for Alice In Chains. On February 11th they played with Mother Love Bone at the Central Tavern, Seattle and in April of the same year signed for Columbia Records.
They released their first EP entitled We Die Young in 1990 and later in the year released there debut album Facelift and the video Live Facelift. In 1991 they made their movie debut in Singles performing Would? and were nominated for a Grammy, which they didn't win. In November they recorded another EP, which, after a dream by Sean, was entitled Sap.
In 1992 they released Would? and Angry Chair as singles and in November their second album Dirt appears on the shelves. 1993 saw Mike Starr leave the band after alleged drug problems. He was replaced by former Ozzy Osbourne bassist Mike Inez. Lollapalooza took up most of the summer, after which the Jar Of Flies EP was recorded. Down In A Hole, Rooster and Them Bones were released as singles and two songs (What The Hell Have I and A Little Bitter) were recorded for the Last Action Hero soundtrack.
Jar Of Flies was released in January of 1994; No Excuses was a hit single followed by I Stay Away. In October Layne, Mike McCready, Barret Martin and John Baker Saunders performed as The Gacy Bunch at the Crocodile Cafe in Seattle.
After a few shows the Gacy Bunch changed their name to Mad Season and released an album, Above, in March 1995. I Stay Away was nominated unsuccessfully for a Grammy. In April Alice In Chains started work on their new album. The self titled album, originally called Tripod, was released in November, preceded by the single Grind.
In 1996 Tripod was, again unsuccessfully, nominated for a Grammy. In April they recorded Unplugged for MTV in front of 400 invited guests, which was released as an album later in the year.
1998 saw the release of Jerry's solo album, Bogey Depot, on which both Sean Kinney and Mike Inez play. A new Alice In Chains singles, Get Born Again, was released in June 1999. A 4 CD Music Bank Box Set containing rare demos and new versions of songs was released. The highlight of the box set was released as a separate album called Nothing Safe - Best Of The Box. Late in 2000 the Live album was released with little fanfare. Alice In Chains are now in hiatus.
Date of Birth: August 22 1967
Place of Birth: Kirkland, Washington
At the age of 12, five years after his parents divorced, Layne started to play the drums. He was a member of several glam bands around Seattle, playing drums and singing, but at 15 he gave up the drums and concentrated solely on the singing. After being told by his band that he couldn't sing he quit, practiced his singing and joined a few garage bands before meeting Jerry in 1987 - see above.
Layne has had his problems with drug abuse. His heroin addiction allegedly led the cancellation of the tour with Metallica and also resulted in rumours of the loss of limbs and even his life at one point.
Although best known for his work with Alice In Chains Layne also provides the vocals for the brilliant Mad Season project. He is also an artist, poet and photographer.
Who know what Layne will do in the future, but we hope that maybe, possibly, sometime soon that there will be another Alice In Chains album.
Date of Birth: March 18 1966
Place of Birth: Tacoma, Washington
Jerry's father, Jerry Cantrell Sr. (the inspiration for Rooster) was a Vietnam veteran and his mother was a talented musician. Jerry started playing the guitar around the age of 12, but didn't play it seriously until he was about 17. He started playing for local garage bands where he met bassist Mike Starr.
He was the main songwriter for the Facelift album which propelled Alice In Chains to stardom. Unfortunately his mother died soon after the release of their first album and never got to see his success.
The famous skydiving incident took place during the 1991 tour with Van Halen. Jerry's parachute failed to operate properly and he nearly plummeted to his death, he later joked that he missed his chance at rock immortality.
In 1998 he released his first solo album, Bogey Depot and he has also recorded songs for the Cable Guy soundtrack and the Willie Nelson tribute album, Twisted Willie. He made his movie debut with a bit part in Jerry McGuire. He was named as one of the top 100 guitarists of all time in Guitar World Magazine.
His second solo effort is due out soon and is reported to be a double album entitled Degradation Trip.
Date of Birth: May 27 1966
Place of Birth: Seattle, Washington
Sean Kinney started playing the drums at the age of 5 and by 9 was playing in his Grandfather's band, The Cross Cats. He played all sorts of music for The Cross Cats including swing and show tunes travelling across the US and Canada performing at weddings and dances. He was dating Mike Starr's sister when he was asked to join Alice In Chains in 1987.
He also performed on Jerry's solo album and played alongside Johnny Cash on Time Of The Preacher on the Twisted Willie album. He is now working in a band alongside Mike Inez, Chris DeGarmo (ex-Queensryche) and Vin Dombroski (Sponge) called Spys4Darwin
Date of Birth: May 14 1966
Place of Birth: California
Mike Inez was Alice in Chains second bassist, taking over when Mike Starr left the group. He was musical from a very early age. His first instrument was the guitar and he has an associate's degree in music for saxophone and keyboard. He switched to the bass and joined Ozzy Osbourne's band.
When Mike Starr left Alice In Chains they sought a replacement and eventually got Ozzy's blessing to recruit Mike Inez. His first contribution was on the A Little Bitter and What The Hell Have I recordings for the Last Action Hero soundtrack.
He also appears on Slash's Snakepit project and on Bogey Depot. He is now working alongside Sean Kinney, Chris DeGarmo (ex-Queensryche) and Vin Dombroski (Sponge) in Spys4Darwin.
Date of Birth: April 4 1966
Place of Birth: Honolulu, Hawaii
Mike Starr was friends with Jerry, and Sean was going out with Mike sister at the time Alice In Chains were formed. He was previously with other local bands and opened for national acts including Quensryche.
He developed serious drug problems after the release of Facelift and his heroin addiction led to him leaving Alice In Chains in 1993.
After leaving Alice In Chains he formed a band called Sun Red Sun.
Unchained - The Story of Mike Starr And His Rise And Fall In Alice In Chains written by John Brandon has just been released.