The Teen Who Fought The PMRC On TV And Became A Grunge Legend

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In the days before he went on to front Seattle grunge legends Alice In Chains, Layne Staley was a member of a local glam-metal band called Sleze.

Formed by students from Shorewood High School in 1984 (excluding Staley, who went to Meadowdale), the group mainly played Slayer and Armored Saint covers and were severely curtailed from performing live by Seattle’s notorious Teen Dance Ordinance.

Understandably resentful of the negative impact that pearl-clutching adults had on his band, the young headbanger openly criticized PMRC co-founder Sally Nevius while he was in the studio audience for a television show.

Founded in 1985 by a group of women including Nevius and Tipper Gore, the Parents Music Resource Center was a lobbying committee created with the intention of increasing parental oversight of underaged music consumption.

Musicians from a broad range of genres and lifestyles such as Frank Zappa, Dee Snider of Twisted Sister, and John Denver were staunch opponents of the organization. United under a common cause, the unlikely trio of activists famously attended the PMRC Senate hearing and deemed the organization’s stated goal as a form of censorship.

When KOMO News program Town Meeting aired a special on the PMRC amidst the height of the controversy in 1985, the Sleze singer was in attendance and had the chance to air his grievances directly to one of the group’s leaders.

“I play for a rock band called Sleze — and I mean, there’s enough controversy on our name more less than our songs. We just signed with a local record company, I don’t feel there’s anything objectionable about any of our songs,” Staley said.

“But, I don’t feel anyone else has the right to rate our songs. I mean, I’m the only one that the right to rate my album — you don’t have it.”

There is mention in David de Sola’s book Alice in Chains: The Untold Story of a Seattle Times article about the PMRC special, saying, “Layne Staley, a Lynnwood teen who plays in a heavy-metal group called ‘Sleze,’ says, ‘Our lyrics are all positive—“we don’t use bad language or sing about drugs and sex—but I just want the freedom to write about what I want.’”

Check out the clip below.