While late Alice In Chains frontman Layne Staley was largely reclusive during his later years, the legendary singer considered fronting the band that later became known as Audioslave in January 2001. Zack de la Rocha had quit Rage Against The Machine just a few months prior, and his bandmates were looking for a new singer. Alternative Nation reporter, and early Staley collaborator, Tim Branom has connected us with Layne’s friend Morgen Gallagher, who told Alternative Nation this exclusive story.
Gallagher had been friends with Staley since 1986, even living with him and Sleze bassist Mike Mitchell for a period in the 80’s. By early 2001, it had been a couple of years since he had seen his old friend, so he was very surprised when he ran into him at a party.
“I hadn’t seen him in a couple of years and wasn’t prepared for it. By this point he had quit [Alice In Chains], he had lost most of his teeth, and weighed barley 100 pounds. We talked for a little and when we parted ways, I cried.”
This wasn’t the last time Gallagher saw Staley. On January 28, 2001, he saw Layne again at a Super Bowl party. “So two weeks later [our mutual friend] was having a Super Bowl party. When I got there, Layne answered the door and he was back to the old Layne. He had just gotten pretty much the entire Nerf arsenal, so we went to war. We were running around like two little kids! Needless to say, we missed the game and kept pretty much everyone else from watching it as well.”
“That day we were talking and he said he had gotten a call from the old Rage Against The Machine members and they were putting together a new project, and they wanted him to audition. He said he was going back to treatment and then going to LA to do the audition in a couple of months. He never made it, so Chris Cornell went and got the job.”
Staley also appeared to have moved on from Alice In Chains, according to Gallagher when Alternative Nation asked if Staley opened up at all about his status with the band, “Not really, he was pretty evasive about it, but it seemed like he was pretty much done with the band at that point. He hadn’t played with them for a while, and he was talking about auditioning for new projects.”
Staley was scheduled to record vocals for the band Taproot in 2002, but died before he could attend a recording session with producer Toby Wright, according to Mark Yarm’s Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge. Gallagher also told author David de Sola a shorter version of this Audioslave story, which is briefly mentioned in the upcoming Alice In Chains: The Untold Story book.
Alternative Nation will have up another article featuring insight from Gallagher on Layne Staley from when they lived together next week!