Setting the Alice in Chains Record Straight

Posted: December 16, 2011 in Music
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

During the past decade, two of the founding members of Alice in Chains – singer Layne Staley and bassist Mike Starr – have died from drug-related causes. In 2001 and 2003, books about Starr and Staley were published. Both books were poorly written, not vetted, and have not undergone any critical review until now.

John Brandon’s book Unchained: The Story of Mike Starr and His Rise and Fall in Alice in Chains was released in 2001. Brandon interviewed Mike Starr, his family, and a few of his close friends. The book contains numerous inaccuracies, some the cause of sloppy research, others that are wildly and consistently off the mark.

Among the most egregious claims in the book is the following unsourced assertion about the final days and death of Staley’s ex-fiancée Demri Parrott: “In Seattle, with doctors, a counselor and John Starr [Mike Starr’s father] by her side – Demri passed away.”

Asked to review and comment on this excerpt, Kathleen Austin – Parrott’s mother – said, “This is bullshit. Demri died at Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland and there were two people there – me and my sister. And that’s the only people that were there. This is a lie, an out-and-out lie.” Parrott’s death certificate confirms she died at Evergreen

There is another error on the same page which some simple fact-checking could have avoided. Brandon writes that Alice in Chains continued working after Parrott’s death – recording the MTV Unplugged special in spring of 1996 and then opening four shows for the KISS reunion tour that summer, which were Layne Staley’s final public performances. The timing for the Unplugged and KISS shows is correct, but Parrott’s death certificate shows she died on October 29, 1996, well after Alice in Chains had pulled out of the KISS tour and stopped performing live.

Brandon wrote the following unsourced statement about Layne Staley’s family, “He [Layne] came from an affectionate family – with two loving sisters and his caring mother, Nancy. His father, Phil, had disappeared when he and his sisters were young.” The second part of this sentence is not correct. Phil and Nancy Staley had two children before their divorce: Layne and Liz. According to court records, Nancy Staley married Jim Elmer in 1975 and gave birth to their daughter Jamie in 1978. Bottom line: Phil Staley only fathered one daughter with Nancy, not two.

At another point Brandon writes about how Starr was in a Houston jail cell “naked and dopesick from the pain” when he found out about Kurt Cobain’s suicide. He quotes Mike Starr talking about listening to the radio hearing Courtney Love read excerpts of his suicide note at the memorial vigil at Seattle Center. Again, a simple review of the facts proves this did not happen. According to Charles Cross’s biography Heavier than Heaven, Cobain’s body was discovered on the morning of Friday, April 8, 1994, and the public vigil at Seattle Center took place on the afternoon of Sunday, April 10. According to Houston police records, Mike Starr wasn’t arrested until the night of Monday, April 11. Simply put, he can’t have been in jail when he found out about Cobain’s death or the vigil on Friday and Sunday when he wasn’t even arrested until the following Monday.

Brandon briefly writes about Mother Love Bone and the early days of Pearl Jam: “He [Andy Wood] had been the lead singer and front man for Seattle favorite, Mother Love Bone. Shortly afterward, MLB worked things out with singer Eddie Vedder and became Pearl Jam.” “In 1991 after being off heroin for a year, Mother Love Bone’s front man and lead singer, Andy Wood, was celebrating a record deal.” “It [Wood’s death] forced Mother Love Bone band members to turn to singer Eddie Vedder to be their guiding force.”

All three are incorrect. According to the documentary Malfunkshun: The Andrew Wood Story and the Pearl Jam: Twenty book, Wood died of a heroin overdose on March 19, 1990. Mother Love Bone already had a record deal, having just finished their full-length debut album Apple which they were preparing to tour in support of just before Wood’s death. Only two members of Mother Love Bone – bassist Jeff Ament and guitarist Stone Gossard – went on to form Pearl Jam.

There is a quote attributed to Mike Starr in which he talks about Eddie Van Halen being impressed by Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell’s playing. “Eddie was like ‘God, I wanna know how you’re writing this stuff right now.’ And tuning those strings down, you know, that no one else tuned down before – making different sounds.’” Any serious musician, whether it be Mike Starr, Eddie Van Halen, or anyone else, would know this is laughably false. It would be like crediting Stephen King for inventing the horror novel. Tuning down guitar and bass strings to get a heavier, deeper sound was done two decades earlier by hard rock pioneers like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Jimi Hendrix. In Mark Yarm’s book Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge, Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil claims he was the one who explained to Jerry Cantrell the concept of Drop D tuning – in which the low E string on the guitar is tuned down a whole note to D – after Cantrell asked him about his guitar playing on the Soundgarden songs “Nothing to Say” and “Beyond the Wheel,” and if he was using a different tuning.

Brandon writes briefly about the beginnings of Mike Starr’s musical career: “At 12, John [Starr] gave Mike his first bass guitar. He began taking lessons on it and improved dramatically.” In what was probably one of his last major interviews, Starr told Yarm an entirely different story: that he had a job as a dishwasher at IHOP when he was 12 years old, saved up money and bought a bass guitar for $50 off the brother of his future SATO bandmate, drummer Dave Jensen.

Brandon writes that, “Oddly, the song that brought the band its first airplay in Seattle was ‘Queen of the Rodeo.’… The band later relied very little on outside help in its songwriting.” This is partially incorrect. As Brandon notes, the song was co-written by Staley and Jet Silver, but it pre-dates the grunge Alice in Chains. According to Tim Branom, the one-time singer of Gypsy Rose and a co-worker of Staley’s at the Music Bank, he was there when Staley and Silver co-wrote that song sitting at a piano in a room at the Music Bank one night in the fall or winter of 1986. At that time, Layne had been the singer in a metal/glam band called Sleze for about two years. At some point in the first few months of 1987, they would change their name to Alice ‘N Chains. “Queen of the Rodeo” was a regular part of their live setlist. Journalist Jeff Gilbert remembers hearing the original Alice ‘N Chains version of “Queen of the Rodeo” on a KISW radio show called “Metal Shop.” It was this version of the band – not the one with Jerry Cantrell, Sean Kinney and Mike Starr that would come together in late 1987 – that first performed “Queen of the Rodeo.” Later on, as numerous bootlegs show [watch here, here and here], it became a part of the grunge Alice in Chains live set during their early days. The song would eventually appear on the Live album and the Music Bank boxed set. Bottom line: Alice in Chains never relied on any “outside help in its songwriting,” as Brandon wrote.

Adriana Rubio’s book Layne Staley: Angry Chair was released in January of 2003, less than a year after his death. For the project, Rubio did extensive interviews with his mother, Nancy Layne McCallum, and his sister, Liz Elmer. The book drew attention because she claims to have gotten Layne’s final interview, and got coverage in Rolling Stone [which included a blurb from Seattle rock journalist Charles Cross], MTV News, and Metal Hammer Magazine. Rubio’s interview is even listed on Staley’s Wikipedia page. Because the book was published after his death, Staley was never able to comment one way or another about the quotes attributed to him in the interview. This interview should be disputed after careful analysis.

On page 118 in the PDF file of the updated version of her book, retitled Layne Staley: Get Born Again, Rubio wrote of her alleged conversation with Layne, “I did not ask many questions, he didn’t allow me to do so. It was him who was in charge of the situation and was clear enough about the way he wanted his story published. This phone call lasted for about 2 hours and a half.” Later on, she writes, “I certainly know that the first publication of this book should have done completely the way Layne wished. And, that’s why I decided to go ahead and transcribe the whole conversation for this re-release,” and “Layne Staley’s words need to be known here and now without having any intentions of hurting anybody’s feelings, especially his mother Nancy’s, and to tell you all, in his own words, what he sadly had to say.”

The implications of these three separate quotes are clear – Rubio is saying she talked to Staley on the phone for two and a half hours and was going to publish the complete transcript of that conversation. I have been in the journalism business since 2002. In that capacity, I have transcribed dozens, if not hundreds of interviews with sources from video or audio recordings, ranging from five minutes to three hours in length. Based on what Rubio wrote in the book, it is obvious she did not speak to Staley for two and a half hours as she claims. In fact, I have reason to believe that conversation didn’t happen at all.

The portion of her book detailing the full account of their conversation runs approximately six pages in the PDF file of the 156-page manuscript, which I bought through her publisher’s website. I copied and pasted this portion of the text into a Microsoft Word document and set it to 12-point single-spaced Times New Roman font – the default setting I use for all of my writing.

Full disclosure: I am researching and writing a biography of Alice in Chains. By comparison, my on the record interview with Kathleen Austin ran for slightly longer than two and a half hours. Using those same Word settings, the transcript for that interview came out to nearly 25 pages. There is no way that what Rubio published is anywhere near a two and a half-hour transcript of her alleged conversation with Staley. Besides the discrepancy in the length of her transcript, there is other evidence to suggest she fabricated this interview.

In the course of my research for my own book, I have read or listened to Staley’s comments in several radio, television, and print interviews from over the years. I have also obtained and reviewed quotes attributed to him published in other books or articles, as well as through my own interviews with people who knew him and agreed to talk on the record. In doing so, I became familiar with his way of speaking, his word selection, and the types of subjects he would and wouldn’t talk about during an interview with a reporter or in a private conversation. Setting aside the substance of the comments attributed to Staley in the Rubio book, it is necessary to look at the language he used. This interview doesn’t read or sound like something he would have said.

Specifically, there are several comments from Rubio’s transcript that stand out: “I hate to feel,” [p. 135, 137] “We did stick our arms together and it wasn’t done for fun,” [p. 136] “One of my lyrics says that without eyes you cannot cry and, it’s funny, I’m crying now,” [p. 136-137], “I must admit that this time, I am the one here confessing, pulling off my skin…. ( pause )… my own dirt, so you can now understand why this pink cloud has turned to grey,” [p. 137-138] “You cannot understand a user’s mind, especially junk,” [p. 138] “That fallen head, is what we called rush, and keeps the junk head drowsy for hours,” [p. 138] “I shouldn’t blame her for my condition because my pain is self chosen, but I know that in some way I do,” [p. 140] “I know I made a big mistake when I started using this shit,” [p. 140] and “Don’t do drugs. Keep away from this corporate prison,” [p. 141].

Each of these quotes is a reference to the title or a lyric from an Alice in Chains or Mad Season song. In order, they are “Hate to Feel,” “God Smack,” “I Can’t Remember,” both “River of Deceit” and “Angry Chair” or “Artificial Red” in the same sentence, “Junkhead,” “Junkhead,” “River of Deceit,” “Would?” and “Angry Chair.” During the course of my research over the past four months, which includes an extensive review of published material related to Alice in Chains as well as interviews with dozens of sources, I have not discovered a single instance in which Staley ever quoted his own lyrics or song titles during an interview or a private conversation the way Rubio claims he did in her interview.

As was the case with Brandon’s book, there are glaring errors in Rubio’s book regarding the death of Demri Parrott. On page 71, she writes, “She [Parrott] was declared dead because of an ‘endocarditic bacterial,’ In spite of the planned choice to keep some distance, Layne was at her side till the end.” The correct name of the condition is bacterial endocarditis, which Austin confirms Parrott was diagnosed with. The part about Staley being with Parrott until the end is not accurate.

Based on a review of the medical examiner’s report and an interview with Austin, Staley was not with Parrott at all during the final 15 hours of her life. The medical examiner’s report erroneously describes the man who brought her to the hospital as her boyfriend. He was not her boyfriend, according to Austin, and Staley did not bring her to the hospital. Parrott spent the last 12 hours of her life unconscious in an intensive care unit at Evergreen Hospital, with only her mother and her aunt by her side, before doctors turned off the life-support machines on the morning of October 29, 1996. Alice in Chains manager Susan Silver told journalist Greg Prato in his book Grunge Is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music that she was the one who went to Staley’s apartment to tell him that Parrott had died.

The other major error regarding Parrott’s death is on page 119, when Rubio quotes Layne as saying, “Go and write a special chapter for Demri and make it clear that her cause of death was bacterial endocarditic. It wasn’t an overdose.” This is not accurate for two reasons: first, she again misspells endocarditis; second, Parrott’s death certificate lists her cause of death as “Acute intoxication,” and “Combined effects of opiate, meptobamate & butalbital.” In other words, she did die of an overdose.

Unchained and Angry Chair, the first pressing of Rubio’s book, were both published by Xanadu Enterprises, a vanity publishing firm based in Iowa. According to Craig Chilton, the publisher who worked on both Brandon and Rubio’s books, his company is not responsible for vetting or reviewing the content. His company receives manuscript submissions, Chilton reviews them for grammar and spelling errors, and puts the manuscript into book form, after which the authors are responsible for marketing, distributing, and selling them. “I did not review any tapes or transcripts. If they had such things, I never saw them. They wrote the book, I cleaned it up grammatically and spelling-wise. We don’t vet anything.”

Chilton can’t be held responsible for simply following his company’s business policy of publishing what his clients provide him. But it was the lack of editorial vetting which allowed Rubio and Brandon’s subpar quality books to be published and remain unchallenged for years.

Rubio and Brandon have since collaborated on a proposed biopic about Layne Staley – based on and titled “Get Born Again” – with Rubio writing the screenplay and Brandon directing and contributing to the script. One of the producers involved with the project received a letter from King, Holmes, Paterno and Berliner, the law firm which represents Alice in Chains. The letter read in part, “The literary work upon which your project is based contains misleading information about our clients and portrays our clients in a negative and false light. Since our clients cannot be involved with your film and will not support any project based in whole or in part on any literary work written by Ms. Rubio and Mr. Brandon, our clients would prefer that you cease developing your project and move on to one that not requires our clients’ input or the literary work written by Ms. Rubio and Mr. Brandon.”

According to Rubio’s blog profile, the project was derailed because “The Staley Estate did not authorize it.” If the screenplay was to be based on Rubio’s book about Staley, and presumably with some elements of Brandon’s book about Starr, the lawyers’ complaint that their works contained “misleading information” which portrayed their clients in “a negative and false light” is well-founded.

In an e-mail, Rubio said she had passed on my interview request to John Brandon but had not heard back. She declined to be interviewed, citing her mother’s poor health. “With all due respect, both Layne Staley and AIC are not a priority in my life now.”

I’ve reached out to Alice in Chains management, as well as Layne Staley and Mike Starr’s families for comment. I will update this post later if I get any responses.

Update: I got a response/statement to this post from Layne’s sister Liz Coats. Read it here.

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Comments
  1. […] de Sola has posted a new blog that debunks and challenges claims made in the Mike Starr and Layne Staley biographies, released in […]

  2. B says:

    Thank you for writing this.

    As a huge fan of Alice in Chains and aware of their now legendary status I can’t express how badly needed a proper, accurate biography is needed for them. Layne in particular would be a difficult biography to accurately compose. I wish you all the best.

    A big reason why the books failed, aside from the factual inaccuracies you cited, is that they were unsupported by the band and their families. This made the fans revolt and assume the books were trash, which they are. Once Nancy Staley renounced her support for Rubio’s works, we knew it was going to be bad.

    Mike and Layne were far more than what killed them. Layne had an incredible sense of humor and was a very intuitive guy, and Mike was a rock star from the start for reasons more than his notoriety showed. I hope your biography can show more than just what the media printed about this band, and this article gives me hope that you’ll do well.

    Wishing you the best,
    B

  3. grump says:

    Thank you. It will be 10 years in 2012 and a lot of people still care about Layne Staley. I hope you will get the access and time to write a well-researched biography.

  4. David says:

    Thanks. It’s still very early in the process, I’ve only been working on it for about four months. I’m off to a good start but I still have a lot of ground to cover.

  5. Fabrizio says:

    This sounds like a really exciting project and I wish you the best of luck with it.

    I’ve been in contact with Adriana Rubio about her book, and even if I started from the assumption that the famous interview with Layne actually took place I never got the impression we could call Angry Chair/Get Born Again an actual biography: not so much for not getting AIC’s or Layne’s mother’s stamp of approval, but mostly because of the huge amount of people who are left out and whose voice and recollections of Layne we cannot hear through the book.

    Given the lack of readily available information on Layne I can totally understand why fans, me included, would really want to believe in Adriana’s words. In that sense, by embarking on such a project you carry a good deal of responsability in finally doing justice to both Layne’s memory and his fans.

    Looking forward to your updates. All the best,

    Fabrizio

  6. hamiltonkr says:

    If Rubio is able to transcribe the entire conversation at all, after all these years after the fact, then shouldn’t that tell us the obvious? I would think she would certainly have AUDIO of it.

    And while I can understand that she might want to keep most of that (supposed) audio of the conversation – to herself, so that she can sell new editions of her book with such seemingly valuable content (full transcription), she could just as easily refute critical assertions by posting some audio clips. Let’s just say, 90 seconds of Layne’s voice, from the supposed 2.5 hours – would certainly do the trick. That would remove a lot of the doubt. She could even post audio of what has already been publicized…such as the ham-fisted, self-referencing lyric quotations.

    I know that if I had audio of such an interview, with so many people being so highly skeptical, the quickest way to shut up any of these critics would be to release some of it. But then again, if I didn’t have that audio…then where in the hell is the transcription coming from? Notes? Memory?

  7. Krista says:

    I hope you finish your book. There needs to be a proper account of Layne’s life. I have the Rubio book and its a waste of trees. I do not believe he would quote songs in the state he was. At Unplugged Layne had the lyrics incase he needed to glance at them as they had not played in about 2 years? Jerry had the songs too. I don’t think in his state he would be quick to quote that much.

  8. bullworth says:

    At another point Brandon writes about how Starr was in a Houston jail cell “naked and dopesick from the pain” when he found out about Kurt Cobain’s suicide.

    Isn’t it possible he heard a rebroadcast while in jail?
    You might be right but what you said didn’t prove that part was not true.

    Audio is needed for a conversation that long, anyone can add some spice to there story to sell more books. Staley using lyrics from his songs seems made up since it would be easy to just use them to make it like it was him instead of her making it up.

  9. Hail says:

    I hope you do a great job on this book man. People been wanting someone to set this shit straight even before Layne died. Alice is a very private band so i guess people in the media like to just make shit up.

  10. […] response to my previous blog post about the Adriana Rubio book, I received the following email from Liz Coats, Layne Staley’s sister. The italics in the […]

  11. deanna marie says:

    I am so happy that someone has really done their homework because these so call writers are making money off of fans that are still devoted to Layne Staley. I always wanted to buy the books but, the reviews always kept me from buying it and besides the books are so expensive for the average person. Rubio’s always claimed half of the money that the books is making is going to the Recovery Clinic Layne’s mom is helping. Unfortunanley, the families are the ones that have to deal with so call writers. I, as a Layne Staley fan i refuse to read or buy anything that hurts the family because i know for a fact Layne would not like his family being hurt from their lies…RIP Layne

  12. Justin Kirby says:

    Brother, I’m a HUGE Alice/Layne fan & am so happy you took the time to write this post. Really…hats off to you man!

  13. john radlowski says:

    crack the whip feel my sting more later have memories to share

  14. Carol says:

    And book cost in Amazon: over $300! …It was a great business for her…unfortunately

  15. Melanie says:

    When can we expect your book?

    • David says:

      I’ve been working on it since summer of 2011, but still have quite a bit of ground to cover. Will make an announcement further on down the road….

      • Stan says:

        hello david, i have been reading up on your material and i am really looking forward to the book. can you give any updates on it?

      • David says:

        Thanks… I’m still hard at work on the book. I’ll eventually make some sort of public announcement when I have more news to report about the status of the book.

  16. Laura C. Geddie says:

    I’m almost 31 and just now truly discovering Layne Staley. My fucking god..was there ever a more beautiful, troubled man? The thought of him takes my breath away. I cried for him today listening to “Nutshell”. I want him back..yet I never had him.

  17. Chris says:

    After reading the few excerpts from Rubio’s book here, I definitely would not read it. What terrible writing! And the guy who published it actually claims to have “edited” it? Yikes! Anyway, thanks for helping to set the record straight on both the Staley and Starr “bios.” Looking forward to yours!

  18. JT says:

    Yes, Layne was troubled, and so was Mike …..mostly by the addictions that ultimately killed them. I can’t and won’t go into it too deeply but Mike and I lived under the same roof for awhile in the early 90’s (yes I have the photos to prove it). I met Laynes mother once….she was a straight-shooter and a very nice lady who suffered hell-on-earth as any mother of a heroin addict would. The same hell-on-earth as Mikes mom Gayle. I recall asking Mike at one point why he always got so high (and/or low) all the time and he replied “I travel all over the planet and everywhere I go people give me the best drugs in the world for free! What would you do?” This was shortly after they had signed their first recording contract and were still touring europe, well before they played a tour here in the US. Instead of it improving as they got bigger and bigger it only got worse.

    I was only around her a few times, but Demri was a sweetheart, and she and Layne considered themselves soul-mates.

    I have to say that some “gray-areas” in Mikes story could possibly be due to the simple fact that he was SO stoned for so long that I seriouslly doubt ( and know for a fact while I was there) that he had absolutely NO clue WTF he was doing most of the time….that and the fact that he loved to fuck with peoples heads. Oh, the stories I could tell……

  19. Robby says:

    I have never read her book I did some research into it and nobody said anything good about it. With that said I read somewhere on the internet (I know you can’t believe everything you read on the internet) from a friend of Laynes who was kinda living with him a year or 2 before he had died that Layne only had 2 rules to living in his condo. First one was that you do not talk about his drug habit, second was absolutely no listening to any Alice in Chains. Where any of that is true or not I don’t know but say if it was, Layne definitely wouldn’t be quoting any Alice in Chains during his last months alive especially if you weren’t aloud to listen to them in his pad. I wouldn’t think he would quote their songs anyways even if he was still with the band…?

  20. Donna says:

    Bravo. Thank you for calling this garbage out, particularly the blatant lies told by Rubio. I’m not a journalist, but I am a ride-or-die Layne Staley fan that pays attention. I cannot believe that charges haven’t been brought upon this fraud (Adriana Rubio) for bilking people out of over $100 per copy for her Bullshit Fairy Tale. I knew that book was crap by just reading exerpts Layne supposedly said when she was promoting it (countless times in countless ways). Layne simply didn’t speak the way she quoted him, ever. Further, it was well known throughout his career that he hated interviews and he hated talking about himself, particularly about his addictions. He was so physically ill at the time she claims to have interviewed him, there is no way he would have been physically capable, or remotely interested, in laughing and carrying on a lengthy interview. No way. Sadly, anyone who has suffered from opiate addiction and concomitant illnesses brought about from long term abuse knows what calacity he was likely in. I’ve read and seen just about every piece done on Layne, particularly interviews with him, and you (the author) nailed this, in my humble opinion. She’s a joke, and a fraud, and it’s a disgrace to Layne’s memory to even open the front cover of her “novel.” Thank you for an accurate and detailed report supporting your claims. People need to see what kind of lunacy is out there and not breed ignorance by spreading false information.

  21. […] can read some of my previous reporting on Alice in Chains here, here and here. All of this will be covered in greater depth in the […]

  22. David says:

    Here’s the announcement for the Alice in Chains biography I’ve been working on… https://icepicksandnukes.com/2013/07/10/alice-in-chains-book-announcement/

  23. Lori says:

    I was thinking of purchasing the Unchained book until I came across this blog! Thanks for all the great info from everyone who posted.

    Something that has been bothering me though. Mike said on Celebrity Rehab that he was kicked out of the band due to his drug problems. But in that same interview, he tells Dr. Drew that Layne had to have his own bus because of his shooting up. Mike continues to say at the last show he did, Layne shot him up twice and he died. So, why would the band want to kick Mike out for his drug problems when clearly Layne had same and possibly worse addictions? It seems very sad that Layne would kick his friend out of a band for drug abuse, then go ahead an shoot him up.

    I’m not trying to sound judgemental, just asking if anyone can shed light on this. Obviously people that are strung out will do things they would not normally do if they weren’t high.

    • Noofi says:

      Pure speculation here, but that’s probably not the entire reason for his departure. He was most likely fired, b/c the band already had Mike Inez lined up to fill in for Starr for the rest of that tour. Between things I’ve read from people who really knew him, plus his own words on the show, Mike seemed a little crazy and out of control at times. Maybe Layne had just as bad an addiction as Mike, but if Mikes behavior got to the point where he is a major liability, they would have to cut him loose.

    • Joe says:

      Mike and his Dad were selling backstage passes so they could cop dope when Mike ran out of his Per Diem

  24. Todd says:

    No I don’t think so- fool me once shame on you fool me twice-shame on me, fool me thrice-you ain’t gettin’ fooled again!
    THEE WORST books I’ve EVER read in my entire life were the Layne books, AIC in the studio, & to a lesser extent the pathetic Mike Starr book- AIC books are used toilet paper covered in turds & binded together to resemble a book- no one in AIC camp talks- ever! I wish they would so, no author- I give you an advance F*CK You!
    I’ve given enuff $$$ to you untalented writers.

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  27. Lx1999 says:

    Saw Them twice during Dirt tour. Met him when he walked out of backstage at lallapolloza 93. Probably the singer i loved the most. Great voice which will never be matched. The story behind them and the lyrics in songs are just so real and raw. Straight to the point. He had no shame yet he was not proud about drug use. Its a disease and should never belooked down upon a person. Its a rough life and many things lead to drug use. Parent: If your kids are hard on drugs, instead of judging them, take a look back at the damaging things you might have done during kids first 15 yrs!
    RIP Layne Stayley

  28. Justafriend says:

    I love the way you stated that “Mike was a rock star from the start more than his notoriety showed”. As someone who knew and dated him (at the time of his interviews for Brandon’s book), I can tell you that the contrived relationship between him and Layne are just that – contrived. Mike and Layne did not speak for many years after Mike left AIC. During the “Celebrity Rehab” taping Mike told of being with Layne immediately prior to his death. Perhaps that is true, however it would only have been after a long period of time where they did not communicate at all. Mike was always angry at Layne because, as he put it, “Layne was a much bigger addict than I ever was”. He was highly resentful of the fact that Layne continued to work with AIC (“Mikes band” as he put it) when Layne “required his own tour bus due to his Heroin and Crack usage”. Mike’s real cause of death was a broken heart over his early departure from AIC and never really being able to accept the fact that he was no longer with the band. He did quit, but stated that he “tried to return the next day, but Jerry would not allow it.” This was probably due to Mike’s womanizing (he had just slept with Jerry’s girlfriend) and huge ego problems more than anything else. In fact, they had Mike Inez “waiting in the wings” for Mike to leave – whether on his own or through other means. It is both heartbreaking to me that there are so many people, particularly women, who continue to flood Mike’s Facebook page (now defunct) with overwhelming love and admiration. If they ever had actually known him, they probably wouldn’t have these feelings. While I cared for Mike, he WAS a self-proclaimed “womanizer” which he attributed to his father’s assessment of his behavior toward women. He had severe “daddy issues” and couldn’t even return home out of fear that his “father would get him to use again”. We knew each other at a time in our lives where we shared alot of personal history, so we got to know each other very quickly. This was in 2000/2001. I am not trying to say bad things about someone who is no longer here, I am just trying to shed a little honesty on this situation. As with any group of people, they had a long, somewhat convoluted story and all of these people coming up with an un-true account of it does not do anyone any justice!

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  42. David says:

    There’s news on my Alice in Chains book, including the cover and release date… For the details go to https://icepicksandnukes.com/2015/01/12/alice-in-chains-book-update/ Thank you all for the follows/comments over the years!

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  44. shane adams says:

    It is quite obvious that staley wouldnt speak in lyric quotes or titles of his or anyones songs continually, i mean who does, she obviously done it as a shallow attempt to make her(fantasy) interview seem profound

  45. Stacy says:

    I’m elated that you have taken the time to properly research the real Layne Staley, a very influential, troubled musician. As a human being, he deserves as much, and I thank you. I have pre-ordered your book on Amazon.

  46. David says:

    Stacy – thanks for the kind words. I eagerly look forward to everyone getting a chance to read it!

  47. […] and weeks.  I thought I would take advantage of the opportunity to (re)introduce myself and my previous work about Alice in Chains to date, and address recent developments and some of the feedback I’ve […]

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  51. I was actually one of those suckers who bought the Layne Staley book not long after it’s release in 2003. I hated it shortly after getting into it. Not because I thought the book was inaccurate or misleading or anything along those lines. I immediately disliked it’s poor appearance— hideous cover art design; cheaply produced even for a flimsy paperback; black & white photos that looked like they were printed from an office printer. And the material itself was so poorly written. It read like an essay a Jr. High school student would have pennned. I have to say, the Layne Staley book deserves consideration for the worst rock & roll books ever written. Go read Neil Strauss’s “The Dirt: The Story of Motley Crüe”, or “Watch You Bleed: The Saga of Guns N Roses” by Stephen Davis—both are rip roaring good rides with wit & warmth at the core of the literature—then compare it to the dull, irrelevant, and amateurish dreck Adriana Rubio spit up out of thin air.

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