For all of his personal suffering, Layne Staley refused to suffer bullshit when it came to displays of fascism at his concerts.
When Alice In Chains performed at Cirkus in Stockholm in the midst of a two-month European tour with Screaming Trees, the frontman observed a disruptive skinhead near the stage.
Having watched the chaotic fan assaulting audience members and flashing Nazi salutes, the band momentarily paused the show following their performance of “It Ain’t Like That” (Facelift, 1990). Layne, with his trademark humor, declared, “We love you fucking Swedish people!” He then walked to the stage edge, signaling Cirkus’ security to address the skinhead.
According to guitar tech and contributing vocalist Randy Biro in David De Sola’s book, Alice in Chains: The Untold Story, nobody understood what was happening when Layne gestured to the troublemaker; inviting him onstage and urging the skinhead to “Come on, man. Come join the band—have a good time.”
Staley’s unexpected outreach puzzled onlookers, including AIC and Cirkus security. Persistently encouraging the skinhead to join, Layne finally pulled him onstage only to deliver two resounding punches that sent the Nazi tumbling into the overjoyed crowd. As the audience collectively laughed, Layne, unapologetic, proclaimed, “F***ing Nazis DIE!” before seamlessly completing the set without further disruptions.
Post-performance, concerns about the consequences of Layne’s Nazi-slapping incident arose. Recognizing potential trouble, Staley’s personal security guard John Samson swiftly escorted him to a ferry bound for Finland to avoid arrest.
Alerted by the skinhead, local authorities in Stockholm confiscated the band’s passports and attempted to apprehend the frontman. In an interesting twist, the skinhead’s brother, present at the gig, approached the police to clarify that Layne had only intervened to put a halt to his sibling’s aggressive and hateful antics. Despite the legal ambiguity, the cops commended Layne and Alice in Chains, allowing them to continue their tour to Oslo, Norway.
Remember, kids: Every day is a good day to punch a Nazi.