8 Things You May Not Know About Layne Staley’s Reclusive Years

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1. Layne Was A Video Game Fanatic

In Greg Prato’s Grunge is Dead, Layne’s mother Nancy revealed that Layne was a ‘video game freak.’  He had a big screen TV, 5 games 5 different gamers. dawn to dusk.  Layne was even wearing a Metal Gear Solid video game shirt in his final public photo from Halloween 1998.

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2. Krist Novoselic, Mark Lanegan, Mike Inez & Sean Kinney Tried To Help Layne

According to Greg Prato’s Grunge is Dead and Mark Yarm’s Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge, many of Layne’s rocker friends refused to give up on him and still tried to see him during his reclusive years.  Sean Kinney would try to visit Layne at his home, and he frequently called him to no avail.  Krist Novoselic brought him food, hoping he could save him after losing Kurt Cobain.  Mark Lanegan and Mike Inez also went to Layne’s home and bang on his door trying to see him.

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3. Layne Was Going To Record With Taproot In 2002

Taproot were recording a new album with Alice In Chains producer Toby Wright in 2002, and wanted Layne Staley to sing on a song, according to Mark Yarm’s book Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge.  Wright contacted Staley shortly before his death and Staley agreed to record the song, privately in a studio in Seattle.  Layne told Wright, “Wow, I get to perform again.”  Wright was preparing to fly up to Seattle to prepare the studio for Layne’s return to recording when he got the called that he had died.

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4. Layne and Mark Lanegan Discussed Collaborating

“We talked about [working together] from time to time,” Mark Lanegan told CDNow in April 2002. “But that was contingent on him having the energy and focus to be able to work, and I guess that didn’t materialize.”

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5. Layne Considered Sending A Demo To Jerry Cantrell

Though never verified, there have been rumors that Layne worked on a home demo called “Everyday” that he planned on sending to Jerry Cantrell, possibly as late as 2002.

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6. Layne Went To A House Party And Hung Out With Ann Wilson

In the Heart book Kicking and Dreaming, Ann Wilson revealed that Layne attended a party at her home around 1999.  She said after most of the crowd left at night Layne was still there, and she wanted to go swimming so Layne followed her to the pool. Layne didn’t get in, but sat in a chair sipping a beer. He told her as a kid that he excelled at swimming, he said “I loved to dive into water.”  He said the water felt like a whole other world.  As Layne sat there and Ann was swimming, a huge meteor went over them and it lit up Layne’s face. She said he looked like a kid again, and at that moment there was no darkness in his life. Layne said, “Did you see that? How close do you think that was to us, Ann? Do you think that almost hit us, Ann? How lucky are we to have seen that?” Ann responded that it was beautiful, and Layne retorted, “Do you have any idea how rare it is for a meteor that big, and that bright, to come that close to us? We are really really lucky people Ann. You and me.”

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7. Bob Forrest & John Frusciante Visited Layne’s Home

Around 1999/2000, Bob Forrest and Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante tried to help Alice In Chains frontman Layne Staley get clean. Forrest recalls the story in his book Running with Monsters: A Memoir.  Forrest had gained a reputation at the time as being someone who could communicate with addicts, he had helped Frusciante get clean in 1997. Frusciante was hesitant to visit Staley because he didn’t think you could really preach to somebody about getting clean, but Forrest was adamant about trying to help him.

Forrest called back Staley’s mother Nancy and told her that they’d try to help him, though he told her he didn’t know if it’d work. Nancy responded, “Layne’s got an odd sense of humor. I told him that John had gangrene once. He said, ‘In his arm? That’s terrible, Mom. John’s a guitar player. He needs his hands and arms. Me? I’m just a singer. I can get by without them.’ I know he was joking, but I don’t like to hear stuff like that. Can you try to talk sense to him?”

Forrest agreed to, and he and Frusciante visited Staley at his Seattle condo. Forrest says that Staley’s mind clearly still worked but that he was “a million miles away.”

Bob: “Hey Layne. What’s going on.”
Layne: “Nothing. I know why you’re here.”
Bob: “Your Mom’s worried, man. You don’t look too good.”
Layne: “I’m okay, though. Really.”

Staley was playing video games while they talked, and “pretended” to listen according to Forrest.

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8. Layne Was Heavily Into His Art Work

Layne was very into his artwork during his later years, frequently buying art supplies that were scattered around his home.

Rest in Peace Layne Staley

1967-2002

  • Dorothy Alice Kilroy

    <3

  • Jimmy Intense

    Mark ‘Yarm’? Come on…please do your research.

    • Kevin

      Yeah Marc Yarm, His book is pretty good.

      twitter.com/markyarm

      • Shane99

        I might check his book out.

    • Shane99

      Were you confusing Yarm with Arm?

    • http://www.cuntcertfy.nut Whip

      How is reading a book detailing moments in Layne’s life not research? Sure, he didn’t go out of his way to conduct any interviews of his own, but is it not obvious that this whole website is just a labor of love? He probably has a full-time job in Silicon Valley and just does this in his spare time. Did you not learn anything from the article? Be thankful, “Guest.”

  • Breadbitten

    Reading “Metal Gear Solid” in this article just made my day!

  • Laura

    Thanks Brett….good job on this.

  • http://www.cuntcertfy.nut Whip

    I like hearing these ‘behind the scene’ stories. Thanks for continuing to “report” on Layne even 12 years after he left us.

  • Shane99

    Love all the Staley info. Great job.

    One of a kind voice and artist.

  • Linn

    So incredibly talented and so unhappy. Thanks for this great article. Wish all this stuff hadn’t happened, though.

  • Oskar Augustsson

    both “everybody loves our town” and “grunge is dead” are great books. lots of layne stories told by friends and people who actually knew him. gives an interesting insight in this mans life that most of us didn’t really know of. some stories are quite heartbreaking but people really cared about layne and no one ever has anything bad to say about him. r.i.p. brother!

  • kris08

    Thanks for posting this Brett! Layne Staley fans, like myself, LOVE reading this type of stuff. Please keep Layne’s memory alive by continuing to post about him.