Rock And Metal Stars Pay Tribute To Layne Staley
Among the bands later lumped into the catch-all genre ‘grunge,’ Alice In Chains have always been a contender for the heaviest. There’s an acid burn to their music, a sandblasted desert irritation and sprawled-out hopelessness that suggest good times in filthy clothes. And while a lot of that atmosphere comes the machete edge ofJerry Cantrell’s guitar and the primal rhythms of Sean Kinney’s drumming, perhaps the most identifiable aspect is the smirking, smokey voice of Layne Staley.
For fans of rock and metal, Layne’s hollered screams and harmonized chants with Cantrell touched on something raw and tormented. Unfortunately, it’s also easy to hear how the grinding need in his singing represented the thing that eventually consumed him at the time of his death 17 years ago. But his music carries on a legacy that continues to inspire fans, performers, and chased loners of all sorts to this day.
In honor of the anniversary of his death, some of rock’s loudest voices spoke to us about Layne’s legacy and impact. Here’s what they had to say.
Christopher Dudley, Underøath
“It’s simple. Layne Staley was one-half of the best vocal duo of all time. He will never have an equal…and not just in his voice. Layne had an ability to convey an ache. An ache that you at once can understand, but also know is too deep for even his voice to convey. One of the best ever. Will never be topped. The end.”
Peter Loeffler, Chevelle
“I’ve got some great memories of seeing Alice In Chains play at the Riviera Theater in the early 90’s. Layne Staley’s vocal presence was a commanding force for me as I was striving to carve out my own style vocally and musically. It was a hell of a moment when the kabuki dropped and the whole place roared and sang along to every word - instantly they pulled us in making us all diehards. I couldn’t help but join in belting it out as well!”
Dez Fafara, Devildriver
“I still remember the day I heard Man in the Box. It was like hearing a sound for the first time — I went right out and bought Facelift and it didn’t leave my player for a year straight! Everything about Layne screamed frontman — his look, his voice, his one of a kind phrasing and his onstage presence were bigger than life. There will never be another Layne, ever. Thanks for the music you’re missed by many and I am one of them.”
Luke Bentham, The Dirty Nil
“100 years can pass and still, there won’t be another singer who can snarl their lips, cock their elbows and howl like Layne Staley could. His rasp contained an unapologetic mix of power and pain. His emotive vibrato, a skill rarely possessed by rock singers, could heighten the drama of any moment in a way that truly separated him from his contemporaries. Layne was a natural talent; Layne was special.”
Otep Shamaya, Otep
“Layne was a unique being. From his powerful voice, to his lyrical mastery to his passionate performances, he was an icon and a legend well before he departed this mortal coil. When I think of Layne and Alice In Chains, I think of being a young lass seeing their MTV Unplugged and being completely enchanted and unable to look away. There will always be a void where he once was, but at least we have the beautiful dark magic of his powerful voice and music.”
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