Alice in Chains is a grunge/metal band from Seattle, Washington. They were formed in 1987 by frontmen Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell. They are one of the Big Four of Grunge, along with Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Nirvana. They reached vast mainstream success with their album Dirt, which helped bring grunge into the mainstream.
Layne Staley was originally from a glam metal band known as Sleze. The band went through many line-ups and began discussing new names. "Alice in Chains" was one of them, but the band knew the reference to female capture would be controversial, so the spelling was changed to "Alice N' Chains." Staley met Jerry Cantrell, also a musician, at a Music Bank studio and became roommates with him before Alice N' Chains broke up. Staley joined a funk band and asked Jerry to join as a sideman, and Jerry agreed if Staley would join his band made up of drummer Sean Kinney and bassist Mike Starr. The funk band broke-up, and Staley joined Cantrell. Formerly known as Diamond Lie, the band was named Alice in Chains. Alice in Chains recorded a demo at the Music Bank which came to Soundgarden managers Kelly Curtis and Susan Silver, who passed it to Columbia Records' A&R representative Nick Terzo, who set up an appointment with Columbia's label president Don Ienner. Don Ienner then signed AiC to their label.
Because of AiC's grungy style, AiC became a top priority for Columbia in an attempt to match the rising Seattle Scene. After their debut EP's title track, "We Die Young," became popular, AiC were rushed to the studio to complete their debut album. They released Facelift in the year 1990. It sold slowly at first, but the slightly controversial "Man in the Box" became a regular MTV video. Alice in Chains would get a wider audience by touring with popular bands like Van Halen and Iggy Pop. They also opened the Clash of the Titans tour in 1991. Their wide audiences gave them mixed reception.
After the tour, the band began making an acoustic EP. Sean Kinney had a dream about making an album called Sap, so they named the album Sap. It was released during Nirvana's success with their album Nevermind. The album is notable for their track "Right Turn," which featured Mark Arm of Mudhoney and CHris Cornell of Soundgarden. The track was credited to "Alice Mudgarden." The album also features guest vocalists by Ann Wilson of Heart.
In 1992, the band played a bar band in Cameron Crowe's film Singles, and contributed the song "Would?" to the soundtrack. The video for Would won a 1993 MTV Music Videos Award for Best Video from a Film.
in 1992, the band went to the studio to record many songs they wrote on the road. Many songs dealt with dark subjects such as drugs and fights. The album was named Dirt. The album was a big success for the band. It was given four platinum certifications in the United States. The album had five singles that reached the top 30 on the charts: "Would?," "Rooster," "Them Bones," "Angry Chair," and "Down in a Hole." After that, Alice in Chains opened for Ozzy Osbourne's No More Tears tour. It was then that Atarr left and was replaced my Mike Inez for bass. Mike Inez helped record two songs for the Last Action Hero soundtrack: "What the Hell Have I" and "A Little Bitter." During the summer of 1993, Alice in Chains toured with the alternative music festival Lollapalooza, their last major tour with Staley.
After their world tour, they took a break in the studio recording acoustic songs, not intending to release anything. However, Columbia liked the recordings. They were released on an album called Jar of Flies in 1994. It became the first AiC release and the first EP to ever top the charts. It carried their first number 1 single, "No Excuses." The album has been hailed as deeply gorgeous. "I Stay Away" and :Don't Follow" were also hit singles. Staley then entered for rehab from his heroin addiction. The band was scheduled for a Summer tour with Metallica, Danzing, and more. But Staley began using heroin again, and the band cancelled tour dates and were replaced on the tour with the grunge band Candlebox.
In 1995, the band had been mostly inactive. Staley joined the grunge supergroup Mad Season, being the lead singer. They released only one album, Above. Alice in Chains went to Bad Animals Studio to start recording again in April 1995. During recording, a version of their song Grind was leaked and it gained plenty of radioplay. In November, the album Alice in Chains was released. Three of the four hit singles, "Grind," "Heaven Beside You," "Again," and "Over You," were performed by Cantrell on lead vocals.
The band then performed their first concert in three years. The concert was recorded for MTV Unplugged. The album was mostly acoustic, and gained a lot of success like their previous three releases. AiC then performed with the original KISS line-up in four Missouri shows.
Never did the band break up, but they had taken a hiatus. Cantrell had begun releasing solo albums where mambers of AiC would occaisonally join for tracks. In 2002, Layne Staley passed away from an overdose, fighting for a decade. The police found he had died from a mix of heroin and cocaine. Cantrell dedicated his 2002 solo album to Staley.
In 2005, the remaining members put on a benefit concert for victims of the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, with Pat Lachman of Damageplan performing as a singer. There were guest appearances including Maynard James Keenan of Tool and Ann Wilson of Heart.
THe band regrouped in 2008 to record their next album at Studio 606. The band changed to Virgin/EMI's label for the release, which would be issued in Summer of 2008. The first single was "A Looking in View."
Current Members Edit
- William DuVall – lead vocals, rhythm guitar (2006–present)
- Jerry Cantrell – lead guitar, vocals (1987–2002, 2005–present)
- Mike Inez – bass, backing vocals (1993–2002, 2005–present)
- Sean Kinney – drums, percussion (1987–2002, 2005–present)
Former Members Edit
- Layne Staley – lead vocals, rhythm guitar (1987–2002; died 2002)
- Mike Starr – bass, backing vocals (1987–1993; died 2011)