Bryan Carlstrom (who passed away recently, rest in peace) uploaded photos of Layne Staley’s final recording sessions with Alice In Chains to his Facebook in February 2011, but they did not spread online until yesterday. These are the first photos to ever surface of the original incarnation of Alice In Chains’ final recording sessions. There is only one photo of Layne Staley from the sessions, a photo of somebody handing Layne a birthday cake. There are several photos of Jerry Cantrell, Sean Kinney, and Mike Inez. This is the second ever photo of Layne Staley to surface from 1998, the other being a photo of Staley on Halloween 1998 at Jerry Cantrell’s concert in Seattle.

Alice In Chains headed into the studio with producer Dave Jerden and engineer Bryan Carlstrom in late summer 1998 in Los Angeles to record two new tracks for their Music Bank box set: Get Born Again and Died. The sessions were filled with tension according to Mark Yarm’s book Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge. Layne Staley didn’t show up to the first session until after midnight. When Layne finally showed up a fight ensued, with Jerry Cantrell yelling at Staley “Shut up!” Dave Jerden added, “The reaction from Layne was pretty bizarre. He turned into this little kid- he wasn’t like the Layne of old. Like he was being reprimanded by his mother or father.” After the blowout, Staley told Jerden that he had to go back to Seattle for a wedding, which put an end to the first Music Bank sessions.

Toby Wright was then brought in to replace Jerden as producer to help the band complete the songs in Seattle. Wright said that at this point Cantrell and Staley had gotten to a point where they couldn’t be in the same room. Wright described his recollection of the sessions, “There was something weird going on between them, I’m not sure exactly what it was. It was really none of my business. Layne would come in and sing, and then Jerry’d come in and listen to that and say, ‘Oh, that’s horrible.’ Thank God for Pro Tools, because for me it was an editing nightmare.”

Alice In Chains released “Get Born Again” as a radio single on July 13, 1999 to promote the releases Nothing Safe: Best of the Box and Music Bank. The song was a big hit on rock radio and received a Grammy nomination in 2000. Alice In Chains were interviewed on Rockline on July 19, 1999. The interview would mark the end of the Layne Staley fronted Alice In Chains.

  • Spoonman


  • Brett Buchanan

    Now hopefully we get the final photo and home solo demos at some point…

  • Spoonman

    that would be killer but this is a great start. i never expected these, made my night

  • Brett Buchanan

    Me neither, assumed zero photos were taken at these sessions. Glad someone was documenting the end of the original AIC.

  • Paul Kneitz

    He looks a lot better than I thought he would.

  • runawaydog

    wow I never knew there was such tension going on between Jerry and Layne.

  • TKC

    Awwww…poor Layne, I wish he could have found himself. As for the negative portrayed in this article, I’m sure there are regrets, I know what is it like to deal with an addict that you love, it aint easy..I hope people will refrain from judgement. It sucks to love someone who can’t love their self. Layne is in a better place now.

  • Adam

    “Alice In Chains’ original incarnation’s”
    Mike Starr was the original bass player!

  • Brett Buchanan

    I’m referring to the 1987-1999 Alice In Chains with Layne Staley.

  • Brett Buchanan

    That’s the original incarnation, I didn’t say original lineup.

  • Monster Robert

    I glad to see the photos up finally

  • Adam

    sorry man. i was not trying to be a troll. was just confused by your wording. keep up the good work.

  • Anth

    Is there anywhere online to listen to that Rockline episode? I really wanna hear it since Layne apparently called in unexpectedly, sounds like a cool moment.

  • Brett Buchanan
  • me
  • rottenapple4444

    Youtube Anth ! Nice to see those pictures…and remember, tension is normal between 2 friends in a band…

  • Alberto

    Wowowowowowowowowowowow Layne!!! <3 I see him better I thought

  • Cobainsweater

    Very sad to read concerning Layne and Jerry, but awesome to finally have a visual window into those final recording sessions of the classic AIC.

  • BillyL

    @ Brett

    Adam is correct, your statement is wrong. “original incarnation” and “original lineup” is the same thing. Original means first, no matter how you twist it. You could say “…Layne Staley fronted incarnation” or “…this particular incarnation”, but the english language is the english language and there is no arguing it, even on Seriously, when someone points out a factual error, just say thanks and change it. Anything else just seems childish and immature. Just a tip.

    Anyway…thanks for posting the pics.

  • Millz

    Layne is also in the top photo on the right. Just above the speakers on the left. You can’t see him real well but he’s there.

  • Kris

    Awesome article and pictures! Thanks for posting!

    I’m not surprised to hear of the tension between Jerry and Layne. I too remember reading in “Grunge is Dead” that there was a lot of tension towards the end and that Jerry would get really pissed off at Layne for showing up late and nodding out which is understandable.

    @Paul Kneitz: Yeah, I thought he would look worse too but it’s still a helluva departure from the Layne we knew in around 1992 or 1993. There is no disputing that Layne did not look healthy in this picture.

  • Sativa Kanna

    I have a huge crush on Mike Inez and Im a malaysian tranny lookin for a tall, dark, and handsome bassist.

  • Jennfons

    It is so sad to know there was so much tension between them, I understand how aggravating it must have been not only for Jerry but for the rest of the band, but I also understand that Layne was not at his best…. Drug addiction is a terrible desease and I think though they had been patient with Layne for so long he deserved more time and love and a helping hand. I think by that time the love and affection had turned into frustration and indiference. they probably felt betrayed by Layne and vice versa.
    They were a terrific band, and im sure as people they were equally so, but personally I would have tried more to see my friend get well and not turn my back on him as much as he asked me too, Layne was a grown man and probably made the decision of not speaking to them, but as an addict this was probably a cry for help.
    I wish the remaining members nothing but the best, The chains continue on but Alice is no longer with us.

  • MJ

    What’s up with all the comments about how “sad” it is that there was tension between Jerry/Layne? You can’t possibly think two human beings are going to like each other 24/7. Its normal to get annoyed/frustrated with other people, especially when you spend so much time together being in a band.

    @Jennfons This is the problem with Layne fans. You’ve obviously never known an addict or you wouldn’t be saying they “turned their backs on him”. They all struggled with drugs and alcohol. Mike, Jerry and Sean weren’t Layne’s father. They were his friends. Same age, dealing with the same problems. What more could they have done if Layne turned his back on them? You can’t jump into someone’s skin and force them to get clean.

  • kingchaz

    Ugh. Creepy. Foreboding.

  • Blipo

    look at that last photo of the record….in the reflection you can see what looks like someone taking a photo with a flip of cell phone…did they even have those in the summer of 1998?

  • Blipo

    edit in my last post….”flip UP cell phone” not “of” sorry

  • Jafrica

    So sad seeing Layne like that 🙁

  • Monster Robert

    So sad that there was tension between Layne and Jerry during that time. The positive point was Layne didn’t look as bad as I though he would.

  • Elle

    Thanks for these pictures, Layne looks in good spirits> 🙂

  • Mackeena

    Brett Buchanan said:

    “Now hopefully we get the final photo and home solo demos at some point…

    If that happens (the final photo(s) and home solo demos) the entire planet would probably implode.

  • Ace

    Great post. This is why I come here every day.

  • Kathrin

    Very nice pictures, thank you …. RIP Layne – your are the best

  • GwynnKatie

    Ugh. Creepy. Foreboding.
    kingchaz I actually feel/think that way too – like it was a clear indication of what was to transpire in less than 4 years… if that is indeed what you meant.

    I don’t think it’s sad that Jer & Layne were fighting. They were *brothers* and it’s more than completely normal for musical brothers who have been playing gigs & practicing with each other for over 10 years to get irritated with each other. Booking those studios cost a fortune and you pay by the hour — if Layne indeed showed up at midnight then he cost the band a lot of money and lost studio time. If he nodded off after he showed… well…
    All speculations of course.

    Thanks for this find Brett. Also the Rockline call recording.
    They’re treasures.
    Sad treasures – but meaningful and valuable history nonetheless.

    AIC Forever

  • GwynnKatie

    You can’t jump into someone’s skin and force them to get clean.

    MJ, this is possibly the most concise, truthful, & direct statement regarding how it is to live alongside an addict that I have ever read.
    Trust me — I am not good on *concise*.

    I applaud you.

  • Jack Irons


  • Deviate

    Awesome article and images. Just wish things would have been different.

  • Brett Buchanan

    Didn’t notice Layne in the corner of that one pic until I read the comment. He looks haunting there, with his cap off lurking in the shadows.

  • jarofchains

    Layne doesn’t look that bad – not as bad as everyone said he looked near the end. Sean and Mike look almost the same as they did back then. As was said in the article those sessions seemed to be rife with tension but it is also cool to see the pics – the last time they were all together.

  • MJ

    @jarofchains Keep in mind that this is 1998. The worst of those stories were from people saying they saw him “a year or so” before he died. Also, that Halloween picture was after this and he looked worse.

    I don’t think I’ll ever forget the story Nick Pollock told of seeing Layne. His words are forever ingrained in my mind. That’s how sad it is.

  • jarofchains

    MJ – that is true – the effects of drugs are so powerful. Jerry is probably 31 there and still looks young and showing no ill effects from his coke abuse

  • Brett Buchanan

    These pictures seem to be from August 1998, since Layne has a birthday cake. The Halloween picture was in October two months later. I’d imagine he looked worse 3 and a half years later when he died. I’ve talked to someone who saw the final photo though from February 2002 and they said Layne actually looks okay in it. It’s a closeup of his face. I’d really like to see some post 1998 photos, even if Layne’s appearance had gotten worse it’s still Layne, and seeing any new picture of him is cool to me. The bottom line is he was still alive all the way up until 2002, it’d be cool to see more documentation of that era.

  • Adam

    Hey thanks to BillyL for having my back on that one and thanks to Brett for running a kick ass page. I love this site and did not mean to be dicky. I see so many negative comments on here and its really unnecessary. I come to this page because its awesome. I love Alice in Chains and the pics are awesome; that is the bigger point.

  • jarofchains

    It’s cool that he grew his hair back out

  • jarofchains

    Also – I remember Jerden saying something like Staley being 80lbs and as white as a ghost when he showed up for the Final sessions for Get Born Again and Died – he doesn’t look as bad as I would of imagined him per Jerden’s description

  • Krist Chris Cantrell

    I love Layne and have for 22 years. He was my voice for a long long time
    And I’ve had to mourn for 11 years. It’s sad. But there’s a hard truth.

  • Krist Chris Cantrell

    Sean Kinney told Greg Prato in the book Grunge Is Dead: The Oral History Of Seattle Rock Music that Staley had long resigned himself to an early grave: “Layne told me straight up, ‘I’m never coming back. I’m not going to quit doing drugs. I’m going to die like this—this is it.’”

    Staley’s body was found sitting upright on the couch, his remains illuminated by a flickering television in an otherwise darkened room. A stiff cocktail of drugs composed of cocaine, codeine, and morphine was rattling around his ravaged, 86-pound frame. A syringe loaded with a fresh supply of heroin sat in his hand; a used needle lay at his feet. Two crack pipes were waiting on his coffee table, and several more used needles were uncovered when his body was moved. Staley wasn’t the sort to hedge his bets when it came to calling his own drug-related death.

  • Em

    This is great Brett – thank you. Layne was and continues to be an enigma. Still waiting for an epic movie or well written biography to be done about him.

  • Badmotorfinger

    Were they planning on releasing a new album out in 1998-1999?

  • Jason

    Brett: Thanks for posting these photos from the last AIC recording session with Layne. When I first got into AIC the most recent picture of Layne I could find was from the 1997 Grammys. I consider any information that I can get on Layne from 1997 to 2002 to be valuable -I’ve found it disheartening how there’s was initially very little information on the last 5 years of his life. Thanks to Grunge Report I’ve learned more about Layne’s reclusive years since becoming a fan of AIC, such as his attendance at Jerry’s solo show on Halloween 1998, with a picture of Layne there being the most recent confirmed picture that we have of him. I also skimmed through the updated version of the “Grunge is Dead” book in a store last month, although I didn’t buy it. I was also suprised to learn that Layne agreed to be a guest vocalist on a band’s song in March 2002. I forget the name of that band, although they were ecstatic to learn that Layne agreed to do so. Their producer had been in contact with Layne and he agreed to sing on that song as long as he was in the studio by himself. Unfortunately Layne passed away before this recording could occur, although I found it to be encouraging that Layne was still able to sing up to his death (despite his health problems at the time). Anyone remember the details about this (i.e. the name of the band and producer involved?) Layne’s mom also said that he renewed his driver’s license in February 2002.

    However, I’m wondering if anyone knows when this picture of Layne was taken: I’m assuming it was after 1998, although I have no idea who anyone else in the picture is, therefore meaning that we don’t know who to contact to ask when it was taken:

  • Jason

    Also I don’t intend to be intrusive into Layne’s personal life, although as a huge fan of his music I’m definitely interested in seeing the final picture of him taken in February 2002. As far as I know only a hard copy of it exists and it has never been scanned / uploaded online, which would make it difficult to obtain. However, Brett is there any possible way to contact the person you know who claims to have seen it so that there could be a possibility of obtaining it? Also is it confirmed that Layne recorded solo demos at his house after his last recording session in a studio (in November 1998 for Class of ’99), or is that just a rumor? It would be interesting to hear these demos to gauge the musical direction that Layne would have gone in during his reclusive years, along with kind of music he was listening to (which could have influenced his songwriting).

  • Jason

    Badmotorfinger: I’m not sure if AIC was planning on releasing an album in the late 1990s. They didn’t work on any new material beyond Died and Get Born Again, although when asked during the Rockline interivew in 1999 if AIC would be open to making new music, Layne said yes. As we know, unfortunately that didn’t happen, so I don’t know why AIC didn’t record more music after this recording session even though he sounded interested in doing so in July 1999.

  • Alanis

    Interesting comment Brett and a great article! It’s great to see new photo’s of Alice in Chain’s final recording sessions with Layne. I agree with Brett, Layne was alive until 2002 & it would defiantly be cool to see more documentation of that era. What I would like to see happening is an honest movie made about Layne, that shows the great frontman & person that Layne was. Hopefully one day that will happen

  • Alanis

    I agree with Jason, it would be interesting to see the picture of Layne taken in February 2002

  • Blipo

    Jason, i believe the band that he was planning on working with was Taproot. to me they were just another generic early 2000’s rock band that blended in with a lot of the stuff on the radio then. maybe Layne heard something he liked with them? their only song that i know, “Poem”, kinda sounds like he is ripping Layne’s voice off at times…

  • Blipo

    here is the band Taproot in case anyone was wondering what they sounded like….i wonder what Layne liked about them?

  • Blipo

    a quick google search turned this up about their album called “Welcome”:

    “The spectre of seminal Seattle band Alice In Chains hangs heavily over Welcome. It was produced by Toby Wright, who was responsible for AIC’s last full-length, eponymous opus. AIC singer Layne Staley was due to be guesting on the album until the drugs overdose that robbed the world of yet another great rock voice. Most of all, however, the influence is heard in the minor key harmonies that dominate the songs and which could easily have been lifted straight off AIC’s bonafide classic “Dirt” album. Unfortunately for Taproot, Welcome is no Dirt. Nevertheless, it does contain enough strong songs and interesting musical ideas to prevent them from becoming also-rans in an increasingly congested hard rock field.”

  • Blipo

    and another google search turned this up:

    this was apparently the track Layne was going to record for…

  • bon3z

    “Layne is in a better place now.”

    How is lying dead in the ground having no mind, no body, no existence at all is better than being ALIVE?

  • Anth

    Thanks for the Rockline links!

  • MJ

    @bon3z: “If I can’t be my own, I’d feel better dead”.

  • Jason

    Blipo: thanks for posting the song that Layne was planning to sing on. I forgot the names of those who Layne was going to work with…it was indeed going to be a Taproot song, produced by Toby Wright, that Layne was going to sing on. The interview was with Toby Wright in the updated version of Grunge is Dead, although he didn’t specify which exact song Layne was going to sing on. It would have been interesting to hear what Layne’s singing voice sounded like in 2002. If solo demos of Layne from his reclusive years exist, it would be the only opportunity to hear what his singing voice sounded like beyond his last studio recording session (with Class of ’99 in November 1998).

    I also remember reading once that Layne’s mom said that he brought a video camera to the last gathering when they saw him in February 2002. I’m assuming that they preserved the tape, although that they don’t plan to release it. I also agree with people here who’ve said that Layne looks better in this picture than they expected.

  • Jason

    I just listened to “Everything” by Taproot and it’s awesome, for the first time to be aware of a band (or at least a song by them) that Layne listened to in early 2002. While Layne didn’t have any part in writing it, it’s awesome to think that he had considered singing on it. I definitely think his voice would have fit this song.

  • E
  • Kathrin

    Wow, me moving, how many people are still so incredibly touched almost 11 years after his death. It hits me deep in my heart. He was a great artist. It is a very great loss.

  • Raj

    He doesn’t look too bad there, but he was battling drugs years before that. When he died he was only eighty eight pounds, I don’t how much if any was lost during the time lost when they found his body.

    Can’t really blame Jerry for yelling at Layne, the rest of the band doesn’t like dealing with a frontman’s drug problems and showing up late.

    Really wish the current version would perform Died live, but I can understand why they wouldn’t want to.


    a disgraceful display considering what songs were being recorded at the time. layne doesnt look happy… sad in fact.
    but what does that matter to fame power hungry narcissists? a cake with candles? “eat my cake lick my plate”
    Happy Birthday?
    WOW… what friends they were.

    remember a thing called JUSTICE YOU FUCKS!

    look in the mirror.


  • chris

    A great find! Despite the tension, everyone looks fairly happy and productive. Layne looks a little out-of-it, but mellow, and the way he looks definitely matches with what Susan Silver depicted in either “Grunge is Dead” or Yarm’s book (not sure which, they’re both running together in parts for me, right now) that he just looked “different” when she saw him at a session for the Class of ’98 stuff.

    The tension between Layne and Jerry has several possible facets. Obviously, whatever control Layne had in the proceedings was ceded to Jerry, due to his condition, and then there’s also the money issue. Studios were much more costly in 1998 than they are now. Besides those things, from what I understand, Jerry’s drug problem was at its worst around this time, and I’m sure he wasn’t beyond reproach in the studio, either, when it came to efficiency.

    Also, I’m sure the Dave Jerden comments about them were just sour grapes for the most part.

  • MMMM

    For the people saying he weighed 80lbs pounds when he died is are wrong. When he was found he weighed 80lbs big difereence. And remember he was found two weeks later. Thats alot of time for a body to decompose. Also our body is 70 or 80 or whatever the percentage of water. So after two weeks im sure all that weight was lost. So stop saying he weighed 80 lbs at the time of his death cuz im sure he didnt. Im sure he was really skinny but not 80lbs skinny. Come on people use your head. Thats shit you learn in grade school.

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  • Em

    ALICE is right – the songs they were recording were pretty bleak and depressing in their nature – ‘Died’ and ‘Get Born Again’ are obviously clear references to Demri. Poor dude, sitting round thinking of his ex, wasting away on drugs. So fuckin’ sad, such a bloody waste.

  • cosmicatomic

    Why WOULDN’T there be tension between Layne and Jerry?

  • carvingboard

    Died is a classic song and hugely underrated.

    I guess it makes no point in trying to play it live for the first time since its so personal to Layne.

    These pictures are good stuff.

    Reading the rumors was pretty depressing and downright heartbreaking at the time 98-99. The only thing that had me going for this band was Jerry’s solo stuff from 99-02. And I think Died was instrumentally an outtake from his first solo album, Boggy Depot. Then he did some new songs live in 99 or 2000 for Degradation Trip and then disappeared. Had no clue what was going on with it until he had to self finance the record himself and the b.s. with finding a new label.

  • GwynnKatie

    MJ, ALICE — way to use lyrics from *Nutshell* and *Hate To Feel* to get your respective points across. Wish I had a quicker mind. Too much detail. Too many thoughts.

  • GwynnKatie

    I want to know what you know ALICE.
    Never gonna happen.

  • GwynnKatie

    How is lying dead in the ground having no mind, no body, no existence at all is better than being ALIVE?

    bon3z, I’m not being mean, but try to understand someone who might have a differnt idea about the afterlife than you (Heaven, The Summerlands, Valhalla, etc…) Some folks cope with the pain of another’s death by relying on the belief that the loved one has passed on to another peaceful plane of existence of beauty and peace. I have a dear friend who is an Athiest and what you said sounds like what he would say and I empathize. I don’t know if you are an Atheist and I wouldn’t assume. I myself feel/believe that Layne is in a better place now than where he was in the last few weeks of his life.
    Rest In The Summerlands Layne.

    AIC Forever

  • Alison

    Considering he was suffering for many years with all the drugs, I’d say he’s in a better place.

  • GenXLady

    Although it’s very cool to see these photos, it is also sad since we now know it was the last stuff they recorded together. Layne doesn’t look as bad as I have read he did, but those stories are probably more directed to how he looked in the later years before he passed. What could have been, if he had been able to turn it around still during the time of these photos? Sad that we’ll never know. So sad that Layne lost his battle. Still cool to see the photos though.



    i have no idea what you are refering to concerning me in above post?

    nutshell? huh?

    just know there are others i speak to who watch this site. many times i am speaking to THEM!

    you are too nice and loving to get mixed up in such darkness.

    stay well and prepare. as an irish you know how smart this is.

    thanks for being a good person. or trying to.

    bless you and yours…

  • Pingfah

    I suspect that “lying dead in the ground having no mind, no body, no existence at all” is infinitely preferable to the last few years of Layne’s existence.

    • edge

      He was cremated, actually…

  • Alex

    He’ looks okay here not to bad. But you can tell that Demri’s death and his demons have greatly affected him. His face looks rather different. It really doesn’t matter anymore he’s doing fine now. He’s living in a better place rockin out and healthy and happy.

  • GwynnKatie

    ALICE, you used lyrics from *Hate To Feel*.
    MJ used lyrics from *Nutshell*.
    Guess it was confusing how I typed it out. Much chaos right now.
    Not making very much sense at all lately. Sorry about that.
    Take care.

  • allthempluggers

    …what kind of asshole yells at his sick friend…

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