How Jerry Cantrell Tricked Layne Staley Into Joining Alice in Chains

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It’s hard to imagine Alice in Chains’ forming without Layne Staley.

Although Jerry Cantrell writes the riff, the way he harmonizes with Staley is key to their sound. When Jerry Cantrell first cut his teeth with Alice, Staley wasn’t in the equation.

During a recent interview, Cantrell had mentioned loving Staley from the minute he heard him sing saying,

“I remember the first time I heard him I said ‘man that guy’s cool. I’d love to be in a band with him someday.’”

When it came time to jam, Cantrell couldn’t convince Staley to leave one of his other bands saying,

“We would jam and he was really interested in what I was doing. He knew I wanted to put a band together but he already had a band. I was like ‘I’d rather just play with you’ but he was like ‘I kinda already got my own thing.’ And I couldn’t really argue with that.”

While Staley was supportive of Cantrell’s new band, Cantrell became cold-blooded trying to get him to sing with the new incarnation of Alice.

During tryouts for singers, Cantrell remembers getting the worst frontmen he could find to jam with at Staley’s work saying

“We had a couple of days where we just had a parade of idiots coming through the door. They were just horrible. One was like a male stripper. He had bright red hair and spandex and looked like a discount David Lee Roth. He couldn’t sing worth shit.”

That became the last straw for Staley according to Cantrell saying,

“The male stripper was the last one and he [Staley] was working the desk, so he’d hear through the wall us trying to play with him. After that was over, he came in and said ‘Okay I’m in. I can’t let you guys be playing with these guys.’ We were like ‘We just wanted to get you pissed off enough to join.’”

It took a bit of prodding, but the core lineup of Alice in Chains was finally in place.

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