Layne Staley and the Seattle Renaissance
By Dan Traub
During the renaissance in Europe, many artists such as DaVinci, Michelangelo and Rafael touched and connected with people in a way that was not forgotten.
Layne Staley, a great lyricist who sang from the heart, really connected with people , and that connection still continues, both with fans who followed him in his day- and new with generations of fans as well.
Many of his songs, while considered “dark” by some, seem to reach people and help them with their challenge and plight, making them feel understood.
For example- a lyric like “Nutshell;” speaks of his longing for intimacy and community: “We chase misprinted lies. We face the path of time. And yet I fight this battle all alone. No-Besone to cry to, no place to call home.”
Many fans have said that they feel a connection with Layne Staley when they hear his singing. Perhaps this is because of what Aristotle called “catharsis” being established between the artist and the listener.
In conclusion, as many music enthusiasts look on the Seattle music explosion of the late 1980’s and early nineties as an especially creative time- one that may never repeat itself- it should be considered a sort of renaissance.
“… I don’t look at Layne and see a big huge rockstar anymore, I look at Layne and see a man who’s just like me, who knows exactly where I have been, who faced the same emotions myself as well as many others have. He just happened to have been gifted with the greatest voice in the world and the ability to articulate his thoughts and feelings in the most beautiful way. Whether I was using, or in some of my brief periods of being sober, Layne was the one thing that never changed, Because high or sober, what he had to say effected me just the same, and I could never thank him enough for the deep and profound effect he has had on my life. Today, I am proud to say that I’m almost 3 weeks clean, and am feeling more confident than I ever have. And these past 3 weeks, Layne has been such a huge part of helping me get through this and keeping me moving towards a better way of life. Sometimes I’ll write some of his lyrics out on a paper when I’m struggling, just so I can Have that emotional connection with the words that keeps the emotion real and reminds me that although they’re auto biographical, they’re also a warning and a reminder of where these roads lead. And that’s where I will always feel the deepest connection to Layne, in his words. Just as i can connect with a sponsor, or a friend or family member, I can connect with Layne just the same. And I thank Layne so much for that gift. The gift to connect, one addict to another, one man to another. To me, Layne is not a rockstar, or some tragic rock n roll story, but a human just as I am. A human who struggled just like me. And his ability to convey that struggle and emotion that he dealt with happened to speak to me on the same level that it came out of him, and for that I will forever be grateful for what he left for us. I hope you get a chance to read this…”
I wanted to reach out, because that much of an impact has been made on me by Layne.
I discovered his music last year, and I have never been so touched personally by a musician. For my money, Layne is the best vocalist of them all. Aside from his great voice, no one could transfer his honest emotion to his listeners better than Layne.
We all have darkness in our lives to some extent, and Layne was not afraid to confront his and express it fully. In doing so, he reached out to us all, and asked us to boldly look at ourselves as well. I listen to his music daily. His voice transports me, and is such a saving grace. His music helps me through my own family’s addiction battles, and my personal issues, providing endless strength.
I’m also an actor in my 20’s, but even so, singing was never a thought of mine. I was too frightened. I had never thought myself capable despite having such an appreciation for music. However, after hearing Layne, I found creative courage. He’s the only singer in all my years that finally made me think, “I wanna do this. I wanna get up and try.”
Because of that, I have started singing lessons. I even told my teacher at my introduction, “I’m here because of Layne Staley.” That’s how much he has moved me. I find every reason I can to bring up Layne when talking music and inspiration among friends. Everyone should know Layne’s beautiful contributions to this Earth. From what I read, he was an even better human being. Above all else, he was a kind, gentle, angelic man.
It’s a true blessing that Layne was a part of this world.
Just thank you, for making a difference in Layne’s honor. It really helps. Although, I do not live near Seattle (I live all the way in PA, so pretty far haha), your website is a coping tool for addiction recovery. Layne’s music is also a coping tool for me. He has the most powerful voice and lyrics I’ve ever heard.
I am an opiate addict as well, and I’m in recovery. I am struggling with thoughts that maybe there’s is no life after addiction, that life is boring and unbearable without it. It’s hard too, because I’m also a young mother of 2, and I need to be sober for my family and I want to be, for myself, too. Going to your website, the quotes and tips help me get my thoughts back on track. It’s hard to be sober after you know how a drug makes you feel. Once you know how happy it makes you feel, and how it makes you feel good with the world, it’s hard to go back, until you get sick of all the withdrawals and chasing, and sickness cycles.
Layne is magical how he can sing in an addicts point of view in such a beautiful artistic way, explaining every struggle, telling it how it is. I hope that I get the meet him someday with his angel wings (Gosh, can you imagine how beautiful he looks with them? Wow. And Demri too!! ♡).
Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I am very grateful. The site is helping so many. Maybe you get this a lot, but I wanted to let you know that the site is a huge coping tool as motivation to keep going and to show that what you are doing is working. Thank you so much. I will direct other addicts to your site also to read the information when in need.
Bless your heart and thank you! Thank you too, Layne! With much love!
♡ – M.
Hello, My name is Scott, I am from Maryland. I am currently 24 years old. I had/have an addiction problem. It started when I was 18 and carried on since. On February 15th I decided to quit pain killers cold turkey. It was long and it was tough. But I thought to myself… you got yourself in this mess you need to get yourself out the hard way. In the process of withdrawal… I found it important to connect with something/someone. I never really was into “rock” music. During long nite of being sick from quitting cold turkey, I had listened to some nirvana actually and I was really into it. So just browsing around… I stumbled across “nutshell” live MTV unplugged. I was blown away. Absolutely blown away. I thought to myself… who in the hell is this guy and this band ? Fast forward 10 months and I can recite any Alice or mad season song with ease. I am as educated as much as I can be, from an outsiders view, on Layne’s life. Im now into that era of music so much. It’s all I listen too. But much more importantly… Layne Staley is one of the most influential people that I have ever come across in my life. For me personally. Layne is POWERful when he speaks. He speaks truth, he sings truth, he sings about real problems about real feelings. For some of us life isn’t always just oh I’m so happy… listening to Layne sing is like a release in itself for me. His words are so impactful to me. They helped me in my recovery so much. I won’t lie it is hard to stay clean. I don’t want to go back to where I used to be. My life has become so much better, my family has become my family again which means everything to me. I can’t let that slip away again. I use Layne’s words, lyrics, and feelings as my own release… if hey.. look at this guy… the best voice of a generation, all the talent in the world, a huge platform to do whatever with, yet he still struggled with the same feelings and difficulties that I do. To some degree. May I ask you what Layne was like ? From your point of view. Why did he seem shy on the outside but would pour his soul into his singing ? Is that how he released his own emotions ? I am so incredibly fascinated by Layne’s life, I am absolutely thrilled to be writing to you. I don’t know if you will ever see this, however if you do… please know that your son has had a HUGE impact on a former football and baseball player, sports fanatic, great person who turned to the wrong stuff a few years ago and someone who is not from that generation, all the way across the USA… Layne has had a huge impact in the most positive of ways on my life. If you took the time to read this, I truly thank you. I will always wish Layne was still around. I would do anything to see him play live. I can only imagine how incredible it was to know him personally. However I’ll always be grateful for the amazing words he left behind to help a young man like myself.
All the way in Maryland, forever remembering Layne.
…the window that Layne’s music opened up into his soul made us feel like we knew him. It made us feel not so alone through our darkest times. I myself do not have children, but I named my dog after Layne… for he is my companion through the life I lead today, just as Layne’s music was my companion through my darkest times, and remains a source of empathy and healing for me today.
I can truthfully, and with complete confidence, tell you that Layne’s music saved my life… and not just on one isolated occasion… but repeatedly through years of dark, lonely, and incomprehensibly demoralizing heroin and methamphetamine addiction and psychosis which repeatedly drove me to the brink of suicide, or made me want to simply giving in to one of many overdoses.
Today I am almost one year sober… and am pursuing my dream of becoming a novelist. I want to thank Layne for the life that I live today. It would not have been possible without his music, and in many ways, his sacrifice. His words made me feel like I had a friend during those dark times… a non-judgmental friend I could call on simply by pressing play on one of his songs, or even better, a video of one of his performances. I didn’t know him, in the sense that most people know each other… but I had a glimpse into the part of him that he put into his music, which struck a deep deep chord in my heart.
I know he was not simply a musician, he was a human being, and I wish I could have met that human being… but obviously there is no longer that opportunity. I am sure there were many sides of Layne that we who didn’t know him personally did not see. I hope I do not trivialize Layne’s memory by implying that everything he was was in his music, I am sure it was not… but that part of him that was [in his music] saved me, and gave me the courage to persevere through the darkness into an infinitely happier and more fulfilling segment of my life.
Without Layne, and his music, I would not have made it to where I am today. So I wanted to write this to let all know what I’m sure you already do… that Layne was an amazing and beautifully artistic human being… and he has touched so many people, even those who didn’t meet him, or know him personally, on a level that many of us found previously, or presently, beyond our reach.
I wanted to send just a bit of the love that exists in the world for Layne.
He was truly an inspiration to so many. I am 44 years old so I grew up with Layne belting in my ear and let me tell you I loved every single minute of it. I have never had a drug problem but I could always relate to his heartfelt, from the soul voice. When he sang you could tell it came directly from the heart. I wish I could have met him and just enjoyed the silly, lovable soft spoken person that he was. He seemed so fun to be around. I’m not going to pretend I know what he was going through and I would never judge him for any of it, but I just hope he knows how much of an impression he left on so, so many people. He was just one of those people that you have just met but feel like you have known all your life. I listen to interviews just so I can hear his voice. It’s so soothing. Hard to believe that powerful singing voice came from the same guy. I honestly wish things would have turned out differently for him but I guess everything is in God’s hands so we will trust in his decisions.
Not a day goes by that I don’t in some forms or fashion have Layne on my mind.
I hope this letter finds you all well. I’m closing in on one year (10-28) and what a year it has been. I have a 2 month old son now, and everything seems to be going my way.
I used to always want more out of life, no matter what it was… I always needed more of it. Nothing was ever good enough. Waking up, and going to sleep now is so easy. I feel like I have everything. I don’t even check my bank account anymore and all my bills are paid. People respect me and even come to me for help. I used to hate when people would say “you could live a life beyond your wildest dreams,” but I didn’t know how serious they really were. I never knew what beyond my wildest dreams was… just feeling complete and confident with myself. I am confident that I can accomplish things by making the right decision, one at a time. We don’t always make the right decision but that doesn’t mean the next one can’t be the right one.
I often find myself listening to Layne, the pain is in his voice. It brings me back to when I would listen to this all the time, depressed, alone, and in my active addiction. I get to listen to it from another point of view now, that I don’t have to feel that way. In a fucked up sense, I like listening to it as a release. I can go back to that time without really living it. There is also a sense of joy listening to these songs, and at the same time anger. That he couldn’t have figured it out. I also sometimes wonder, if he did figure it out; would he have still had this impact on me and many others. Would he have saved so many lives? Layne lives in us all, all the people he’s helped. He’s making a difference he probably never knew he would make. Layne has gone from soothing me in my darkest days, to saving my life.
I’m going to go listen to the Unplugged session, look at some pictures of Layne, and pray someone out there gets the help they need.
Thanks for listening,
Layne’s art saved my life.
The first time I ever remember using drugs I was 12 years old. I remember sitting with the high school kids smoking pot like every kid does, but for me it didn’t end there. By 13 I was popping any pill I could find out of my mothers purse and spending my weekends getting drunk and snorting cocaine. By 14 I was huffing, smoking crack and shooting up pain killers. I lived like (that) for about a year before I went to rehab my first time. About a month after I got out of rehab was the first time I did heroin and I was instantly hooked. I was constantly in and out of the hospital with drug related illnesses yet I just didn’t care. With all my near death experiences, overdoses and illnesses, nothing made (me) want to get clean or even cross my mind until one day I came across the above CD by Mad Season. I listened to “Wake up” over and over again crying knowing I was going to die and that was what started my road to recovery. I listened to that tape (on) the drive to rehab, and every time I felt the need to use. I can honestly say I believe if it wasn’t for coming across that tape I wouldn’t be here.
Unlike most of Layne’s fans, I became a fan after his death. Actually only 2 years ago. I just wanted to tell you how Layne has impacted my life and how I came to be one of his biggest fans. I have loved ‘ nutshell’ for years. I had only heard Staind’s cover of it, but fell in love with the words and haunting melody. I knew it was an Alice original but had never listened to it. Man in the box was the only song I had heard from AIC. When I listened to Layne sing it, it was the unplugged version. I watched the entire show and fell in love with his voice. Googled everything about him and learned of his story and his ultimate death. I thought what a beautiful and talented man. How did I miss out on him and this band and discover he is no longer with us. What really got me was looking at his childhood pictures and that beautiful smile. I cried. It reminded me of my own little boy. I have twins, a boy and girl. And I could not imagine losing a child…
I’ve never dealt with any drug or alcohol problems. I’m 39. A registered nurse, mom and wife. Everyone says I don’t look like the typical Alice fan. What I’ve found is that Layne’s music has touched so many different people. Some identify with the drug related parts, I don’t. But I love his voice and the ability he had to really tell his story with his songs. I can’t explain how I feel about Layne. It’s bittersweet. I wish I had known of him when he was alive. What resonates with me is what a kind,sweet person everyone said he was. I can tell by his smile that he was a gentle soul. I like to remember all the wonderful things about him and not the manner in which he left us. I love to watch interviews and listen to his voice. I listen to him every day on my drive to work. His voice is my comfort. What a beautiful voice he had. Gosh he could sing like no other!
Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him and wish that I could have been so lucky to have known him. He seemed to be someone I could have been friends with.
I like to think Layne is up there flying around heaven, singing to the top of his lungs. I think how lucky they are to have him and how much he is missed on earth. I love Layne dearly. I feel a connection like I knew him in another life, even though I’ve never been one to believe those sorts of things. I can’t explain it. He was here a short time but he has left an impact on so many. I hope he knows how much he is loved and missed. When I listen to him, there are certain times that I get chills. I like to think that is his way of telling us that he is around.
I would love to make it to Seattle one of these days, attend his tribute concerts…
Nobody comes out of the starting gate thinking, “I want to die from addiction or alcoholism.” But next thing you know, there you are. And you know it’s happening and all you want to do is fuel the fire even tho you know it’s going to kill you. You KNOW. And it’s like this huge magnet that just pulls you in and you can’t break free. I have always loved AIC and Layne but I never really took the time to read all the facts. Alcoholism, like drug addiction, does that to a person. For some reason, I just felt like doing a little research tonight and I am in tears. I don’t use drugs but I have my own issues with alcoholism and it all pretty much works the same way. I’ve been through recovery and did good for awhile…but if you don’t stay on top of it, it will come back and get you. I am nearly 50 years old and have pretty much given up on life and just accepted the fact that this disease is going to kill me eventually. But now, after reading everything I have read tonight. I’m not accepting that as fact anymore. Too many great people have died from these diseases. (And yes. They ARE diseases.) But yet many have survived them. I work in a hospital. I see cancer patients and AIDS patients and all kinds of other people everyday going through so much more to fight for their lives than I would ever have to go through to save mine. What is wrong with us? This is what these diseases do. Man, if you ever even THINK you have a problem with drugs or alcohol, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t hesitate for one moment to stop catering to it. Get help if you need it. This stuff will drag you down to places you could never imagine yourself being in and the longer you go, the harder it gets to get out. Believe me. Believe all the people who are no longer with us because of it. They aren’t lying. I guarantee it.
Thank you so much for your website. Thanks to all the people who have suffered and died to show the rest of us how serious this is.
From my previous experiences of pain in life, I’ve sought many remedies and realized I worked too hard to find one. Of course I’ve sought God, but that was all inside and spiritual. The ability for me to fight the pain took nothing more than hearing the voice of Layne Staley traveling through my ear canals. Tears have shed from my eyes when hearing his beckoning voice. Tears of motivation and hope. Alice in Chains encouraged my will to attack the opponent which was my depression and causes surrounding it. Layne, Jerry, Mike, and Sean provided me with an urge to keeping pushing forward through the pain I swore was endless. And here I am, on the other side and I’m convinced that wouldn’t have occurred without the music of Alice in Chains. I never knew Layne personally, but you can feel his honesty through the authenticity of his words and that’s all I needed. As a matter of fact, it’s not my place to know any personal details about him other than what he discussed in his songs. That being said, his efforts of reaching out to others in need is all I need to know about him to refer to him as a hero. I feel I should give respect where it’s due and Layne certainly deserves my respect. All of Alice in Chains does. Thank you so much guys and thank you layne-staley.com for allowing me to share this.
“I have days, as I’m sure you can relate, that seem to test the boundaries of what I can handle. When this occurs, I listen to Layne’s voice, and I get lost in it. After a while, I emerge feeling peaceful and happy. He’s my fail safe on these cruddy days, and I can’t recall one instance that it hasn’t worked for me.”
“Life is hard. Layne felt it, you have undoubtedly felt it in his passing, and I have felt it in my own way. Layne wasn’t just the voice of a generation. He will forever be a voice for so many of us; then, now, and always. He is a voice ringing in the darkness calling me back to the light; “Time to wake up”, “My pain is self chosen”. He is a friend I have never met helping to see me through those times when it is hard to explain to anyone (even myself) “what’s wrong with you?”.His voice is unmistakable…..undeniable. His voice is the salve for a heartbroken soul. The only thing that could possibly be greater than his legacy would be for him to be here now; alive, healthy and happy. God bless you, your family, and Layne.”
“I have never suffered from any addiction, so I would not know anything about it. The loss of Layne & his musical talent has left a huge gap in rock music even after all of this time & only when I stop to think about it is when I realize that he’s gone…. When I listen to Alice in Chains it takes me away from everything & back to a time where everything was good & things made sense. No matter what happens, he will live on through his music & every time I hear his voice in his songs it is like he’s still here, just like Elvis, Jim Morrison and countless other talented individuals who left this earth before their time. I just wanted to put this out there since this letter has nothing to do with addiction or depression, but rather a message of hope….. Hope through music & the motivation it inspires…..”
“I just wanted to say “thank you”, kinda simplistically but otherwise I’d go on forever :/ I’ve been listening to Alice for as long as I can remember, but only semi recently have I started to really get into it. I’m a 14 year old girl from a small town in WA state and it’s well appreciated by those who know me that I’d take Layne over…whatever any day, though I just think in terms of “I’m blessed to have found Layne.” I suffer from anxiety and depression, and I have been in some pretty low states emotionally because I was really afraid, I guess, of just living. I was looking for something that was really meaningful. And I found that in Layne. Although I say honestly that he pretty much relieved me from a huge soul-ache, I know nothing I could say compares to the stories I’ve read about people who’ve recovered from addiction, deep depression, et cetera with the amazing treatment of Layne’s painting voice and in-describable poetry. The stuff he gave us all was not a gift, but a blessing. I think about how…he affected us, and I’m glad there’s so many folks who also think about him, you know. I don’t feel he is forgotten, I don’t feel he could ever be. So though nothing can coat the soreness of thinking about how he left, it certainly makes me feel good knowing he’s saved and will keep saving alot of minds…”
I am writing because I want to say thank you. I am a mother now and I grew up in the “grunge” generation. I can not begin to imagine what you have and probably still are going through. I put my parents through a similar hell,I’ve done some things that I’m not proud of,and some that I am so damn proud of. I struggle with the addiction every day and always will. I am in the starting process now of starting a place that reaches out to addicts and homeless people as well as those with depression. I will always be an addict,have depression and have been homeless.
I want you to know your sons voice and others,but his very much so that pulled me through in some ironic almost “miracle” Every time I see someone on the street I reach out no matter their circumstance,it’s “funny” now that I live a “normal” life the intolerance and ignorance I see from others to those not “normal” people,well it hurts,some say I’m to much of an empath. I just know that I will do as much as I possibly am able to,to reach out. To let even one person know,I’m here,I’m not giving up. Layne’s music has helped foster that in me and has inspired me since I first heard him.
I’m sure you must often receive these letters and emails,which I almost feel bad for you,but then think perhaps it helps in some little way. I wanted you to know that I am working on building something to help,and my hope is even if one life turns for the better then my goal has been achieved. I struggled through much of my life because of the horrible things people said about me,I let them become me,and I got addicted to drugs and fought and always will fight a long hard battle. I’m sorry this is rambling and all over the place….writing this is much harder than I imagined it would be! So my point is I want to say thank you for allowing your sons fans to still contact you. Thank you for bringing such an amazing soul into the world for that part of his journey. Thank you for being an inspiration to me as a mother now. When I think of Layne,I feel overwhelmed with sadness at times,but I think it’s time to take the tragedies of my generation and turn them into something positive.
This will take me a couple of years to attain my goal of setting up this little place,right now it’s my “dream seed” but when I’ve completed it,I will let you know. There will be a spot on a wall with a photo of Layne,and others as well some famous,some not. These are the people I will do this for,and my children now,in hopes that they don’t have to ever suffer that way. Thank you for your time. I know sometimes you put letters on the site,if you have a need to put this there,then that’s fine,I would prefer to be anonymous,if that’s ok,or not even posted but I will leave that up to you. Layne’s music moves me every time I hear it…and I will do my best to always always reach out.
In love and light
“Have you ever felt connected to someone that you didn’t know? Or felt like there was someone out there who understood you and it blew your mind because they were a complete stranger? That’s your son to me. I’m only 25 years and AIC’s music has been around for awhile now. I grew up with it actually (my dad is an AIC fan) I listened to them casually when I was younger but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I really applied their music to my life. I remember listening to music one day and Angry Chair came on and hit me like a ton of bricks right in my chest. In that moment…that day was when Layne really became a part of my life, a part of who I am. Everyone has problems, everyone has issues, addictions, demons, etc and I won’t get into mine. Long story short – Layne, his passion, his emotion, his voice, his life has touched and changed me in a way that I could never say thank you enough for. He’s inspired me. He’s inspired millions and I cannot even imagine where I would be in my life if it wasn’t for Layne. I cannot wait until the day I get to see his beautiful face beyond the clouds and thank him for everything. But until then, I feel like he’s with us now. He’s with the fans. He’s with the people that loved him and he’s with the people that are in a dark place who need something to keep them from slipping over the edge, bringing them home. Layne was and is now an Angel.”
All my love,
“Back in the early 90s when I was a new adult in her early twenties and discovering who I was, separate from high school, I, like many others discovered the Seattle music scene. It was sweet relief after the glam rock of the 80s, and one band in particular reached out and took hold of me. Any guesses who that was??? Wow, Layne’s voice and AIC’s songs were honey to my ears. A little dark and twisted, but for a 19yo going on 20–just what the doctor ordered. 🙂
When Lollapalooza rolled around to Florida in ’93 and I found out AIC would be there, I was ready with my combat boots and flannel on. Seeing them live was a highlight of my younger years (and I still have the tee shirt!) 🙂 Years later, when the news released of Layne’s passing, my fellow AIC and Mad Season fans and I had a candlelight vigil–listened to Layne belt lyrics all night. We were devastated our favorite male vocalist was gone. We all felt the loss deep in the pit of our stomachs. Knowing his voice would never carry a tune again was heartbreaking, and Layne’s been sorely missed ever since.
Flash forward to this April, eleven years after Layne’s death, and coincidentally, the year I turn 40. I’m married, with my own son and daughter, and to say I’ve detoured from the music I listened to in my early twenties would be an understatement. But the other day, right around the anniversary of Layne’s death, I received a link from a friend with some nice Layne footage singing River of Deceit, which is one of his best in my opinions, and I was flooded with memories. Like a faucet had been turned on in my head. Suddenly, I couldn’t get enough of Layne’s voice and AIC, Mad Season, everything. YouTube is amazing in that aspect. Such a fantastic walk down memory lane. Or should I say memory Layne.
Sometimes we’re affected by people we don’t even know–by their art, and the power it has over us at certain times in our lives.
Despite his weaknesses, Layne rocked the world. he rocked my world. Every generation has that voice that defines them. Layne was THE voice of my generation. I find myself immersed in it again, reliving a slice of my younger years through him, through the music of AIC and Mad Season.
When I need inspiration, I just pull up an old AIC video and he’s there, jamming with his guys and they’re so unbelievably awesome. I listen to some AIC and Layne is there seducing the sound waves as only he can. Others’ lives were enriched because of his presence. Spirit lives on.”
“This is a big Layne/Alice n Chains fan. My name is Elizabeth and I’m 13. I live in _______and Layne is one of my heroes. I am sitting here listening to Nutshell and as I hear Layne’s voice, I start to think of all the ways Layne has inspired me. To me, Layne had one of those “one-of-a-kind” voices. There is no one else out there who is going to have a voice like him. Alice n Chains is one of my favorite groups. They always have been, they always will be. I just realized I missed the eleventh aniversary of Layne’s death. This is what this letter is for. I apologize for not sending a letter in on April 5th. Even though Layne has been gone for 11 years now. I do have a few stories of how Layne has brought smiles to me and my parent’s faces. I thought you would want to know. This year while I was in the 7th grade, my teacher made my class do a project. We had to come up with a Tall-Tale. I wrote mine about how all the rockstars that have passed away lie in the heart of all the Heavy Metal Fans in the world. Layne name was mentioned through out my story. Heavy Metal heaven was the name of where all the passed-away rockstars lived. I mentioned that Layne was up there with Cliff Burton (old base player of Metallica) and Dimebag Darrell (Pantera’s guitarist) having a few laughs and watching over all the fans of that style of music. As I was writing that story thinking of Layne put a smile on my face and brought a tear to my eye. Another “Fun time with Layne” was just this week. On the way to my grandparent’s house Me, my mom, and my sister all sung the song rooster, Man in the box, and Down in Hole with Layne’s voice. We all took turns trying to match his tone of voice and tried to sound like him. We sounded like a bunch of fools but we all laughed and enjoyed his voice singing the songs. I hope these stories brought a smile to your face and thoughts to your mind that there are people out there who are still letting Layne live on and are still having “Fun times with Layne.” I have always said that I was going to get a tattoo of Layne on my shoulder and I am. I want his Face where I can see it every day when I look in the mirror to remind me of one of my hero’s.
I also play guitar and my favorite things to jam is Alice N Chains songs. So before I play Nutshell or Man in the Box or Then Bones, I say “This is for Layne.” Or if I can’t say that out loud before I play, I will look up and smile. I hope this letter has gave you a smile and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it. Layne will always live on Forever in my heart and he will always be one of my hero’s.”
“I first was introduced to AIC and Layne’s amazing voice in 1991 at the Clash of the Titans tour in Indiana. I had not heard there music before that night and it made a huge impression on me. I immediately purchased FACELIFT and have been amazed ever since. I got to see him sing 3 more times and even got to shake his hand and tell him that his voice and words meant a lot to me. He was very gracious. The first time I listened to Facelift I knew this would be a voice/person/band that would be with me throughout my life and that it was not a passing music fad. I always felt the deepness of his singing voice and the songs and lyrics just struck home and hit it right. I never got into drugs and I would attribute that to him and how powerful his voice and lyrics were. I knew if they affected him that much, I would be no match for them either. Ill wrap this story up by saying that my wife and I both had a connection to him through his music and voice. Our first son is 7 now his name is Layne. He knows who he is named after and he has heard the music. I’m sure as time passes he will grow to appreciate it even more. Our second son who is 2, has the middle name of Staley. He will be taught about why his middle name is that. He is out there and has touched so many.”
Such a talented singer that gave it to us raw. In such a unique and mesmerizing way. His music along with the others in the grunge/Seattle music movement were the excitement of my teenage years and far beyond. Their performance on MTV Unplugged was epic. Through his music he made a mark on so many lives, leaving us with music that will continue to move and inspire both initial fans and newer fans. More points for being a cat person!
Nancy Layne McCallum,
Layne Staley has the best voice I have ever heard. I say has and not had because even though Layne’s physical body is gone His spirit is alive and well. His spirit is smiling down. I will never forget the first time I heard Layne sing. The song was Man in the Box. It gave me goose bumps. At the time I had never heard of Layne or Alice in Chains. I then listened to many Alice songs on the tube. Layne Staley quickly became my idol. His voice hands down, is the greatest most heartfelt voice this world will ever know. Because of Layne this world is a better place. I truly wish he knew how much He meant to his fans and family. I’m writing to promise you something. I’m a singer/songwriter/musician. Layne is my idol and number one musical influence. I have 25 songs written to completion. But due to my recent move…I have no band. I promise that if I ever make it in the music industry with my up-coming band or make it period I will give to the Layne Staley (Memorial Fund) a percentage of ALL profits I make. I couldn’t give it to a better cause. Layne gave me inspiration and determination. In return I want to help give him a voice to reach those struggling addicts, and depressed people. I’m 16 yrs old. I will continue to write to let you know how my musical progress is coming along. I love Layne for the music he gave to us and the hope, will, and determination he gave addicts to quit using. At the time I first heard Layne Thomas Staley I was very depressed. Layne taught me through his music life is beautiful. And I wish I could thank him for that.
Long live Layne,
William R. M…
Layne Lives Forever!!
I have a little boy who is 5 years old, and I want to tell you about him. When I was pregnant with my son, I didn’t have a lot of money…
I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to give my son fancy clothes and toys, but one thing that I could give him that didn’t cost any money was a good name. I wanted my son to have a strong name, but one that was also beautiful. I want it to be a simple name, but one that people would remember. I wanted it to catch a person’s eyes as they read it printed on paper. I wanted to name him after someone who was like no one else in this world…So, I named him Layne. Layne gave so much beauty to this world, and when my son came into this world, I wanted him to have just a piece of that to carry him through.
I wonder if you still check your emails?
I know you’re near your mom, reading this. I can’t believe you’ve been gone for 10 years.
I just wanted to say thank you for getting me through some really tough times, where the alternative was drastic and ultimately tragic. From the first time I put Facelift in the tape deck in late summer 1990 as a way-too-sensitive teenage kid struggling with everything, I knew I was dealing with something very powerful. You were/still are a force. Quite honestly, you scared me just a little. But your voice came through with so much strength and a haunting confidence, there was plenty there for me to borrow, and I needed it. I saved AIC for Fridays, as a kind of treat. If I could make it through another school week of bullying and threats, I figured I deserved to unwind with your music cranked way, way up. It was a sonic shield.
Your voice was the soundtrack to the worst years of my life, but without it, I WOULDN’T have survived. You inspired me to stay alive, which is a pretty damn cool thing. You inspired me to go my own way in life. I haven’t always made great decisions and I struggle with the same things you struggled with, but you were my first real life teacher. You taught me that there were moments capable of being transcended through art, words, feelings and that living to work was no way to go. Today, I am a 35-year-old writer and have gone far beyond anywhere I ever thought I’d go. But I still have lots of work to do.
I’m listening to your music as I write. You’ll be pleased to know that it hasn’t lost any of its edge and, yes, it still scares me, just a little.
I hope you’re happy, wherever you are. Feel free to drop by and say hello in my dreams one of these nights. I know I speak for literally tens of thousands of people when I say thank you, Layne.
My name is John M. and the reason for this message is just to express my appreciation for Layne.
Ever so often does a voice come along that truely speaks to the masses, a voice that single handedly changed a generation.
Layne Staley to me was more then a story teller he was a light at the end of a dark tunnel, he was a man who could bring audio to you’re thoughts to you’re soul. He painted pictures with his melancholy lyrics and leveled mountains with their meaning an artist in every sense of the word. For me as a kid growning up through the rigors of teenage angst. Layne brought a sense of companionship a feeling of togetherness, although my battles may have differed from his i didnt have to fight them all alone.
Something I feel the world is missing now, when I listen to his albums it instantly opens a map to my past a beacon of sorts that allows me to drift into the memories of youth, something I’ll always hold near an dear to my heart. The impact he has left on so many is unparalleled by any margin.
The truth and honesty he projected gave us all a glimpse of the man he was a very rare attribute to find in any person. It will forever sadden me the thought of his loss but i find great comfort in knowing i can still hear his voice. His gift was his song and im blessed to have received it, I and many others will always remain grateful for the times we spent under his influence, the lessons i have learned and the life that i lead is owed in part to him and the message that he sent.
“Wake up young man, its time to wake up” shattered walls and rang bells deep into my core and opened my eyes to the world around me, i knew then the path I choose will be my own and i shall walk to the end. He will always be missed and never forgotten, because in many peoples eyes he still lives on as the voice of the voiceless. Thank you for you’re time..
John M …
“Although death means someone is physically gone, their spirit lives on. His voice is the soundtrack of my life. What that band did is musically genius. You can’t “teach” someone to sing like Layne – it’s a god-given gift. The beauty of his voice cannot be replicated. He is also one of the greatest lyricists of our generation. His lyrics are painful but honest and true. He bared his soul and didn’t compromise. When I found out he was gone, I grieved and felt like I lost a friend. Addiction was his darkness and beneath it all, he was a beautiful person. I don’t shame him for his demons and am glad to see that we can help others with similar issues in his name”.
This is for Layne…
I’m afraid it won’t be appropriate if I reveal too much, so I’ll just stick to the basics. I come from an abusive background. Depression started at the age of 9. I was forced to experience horrifying things in front of me….imaginary friends replaced by shadows. Lullabies towered by profanities. I’d come home from harassment of peers, to be welcomed by parents fist fighting. My mother and father finally separated. One would think it meant the coming of peace, but the chaotic environment was still there. All of these years I have thought myself as a result of my environment. I’d been carrying the negative energies produced by the bright lights that surprisingly, blinded me instead of directing me. My dad was a liar and money hungry. Mother…well…she was many things. Years passed. My little sister and I were forced to adapt to new, unpleasant surprises that rushed in and out of our lives. A lot of them. They say that the best way to move on was to forget about the past, but the past was still there.
Age 15. Buried in my bedroom. (The chaotic environment was still there, the past was still there.) I spent most of my free time listening to music and writing dark poetry. One of the offering videos presented on the side of the videos was “Would?” Of course, that was an interesting title for a song, so that immediately caught my attention. I clicked listened, got swept away with the bassline…then came his voice. “Know me broken by my master…” His voice was so rough and delicate. The way his jaw stretched whenever lyrics rose. (Only he can rock that orange shirt by the way.) The passionate, steady grip on the microphone. It was official. This was my favorite band. “Down in a Hole” was later presented. I broke down crying. I was hospitalized that same year. As soon as I got out I returned to chaos. Battled suicidal thoughts. Panic attacks every day….Layne wasn’t afraid to embrace his dark side and I admired that about him. He was one of the things that helped me keep on moving forward.
Age 16. Got diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Another episode. Therapists, doctors, the few friends I had…they tried to help me. No one could help me. Doctors fed me pills. I took them I took everything. Feed me. I’ll take anything, I’m desperate. Some have drowned me in deeper and I kept limping. There was a voice in my head telling me to give up. It’s been years and nothing was changing. I thought I was going to die. “Why are you still here? Why are you still standing? You know you are going to give up. You know you are going to die soon.”
But I’m alive. I’m 17 and alive. The best part is, I look forward to living. Just got out of depression couple of months ago. Treatment was hell. My past in general was hell. But I’m happy. Besides Alice in Chains, “Wake Up” by Mad Season is a song I can relate to….most of the songs he’s in I can relate to. I play most of his songs on repeat all of the time.
If I didn’t get the help that I had, I don’t know how my future would have resulted. (I wished his story would have resulted the same as mine…) Layne was one of my few motivations. And God bless him for that. Such a shame I was born in such a modern era…
…greet your son for me…tell him I said thank you.