Layne Staley – A Rock Legends Story of Drugs, Heroin and Addiction

Layne Staley – A Rock Legends Story of Drugs, Heroin and Addiction

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“Drugs are not the way to the light – they wont lead to a fairy tale life, they lead to suffering.”– Layne Staley

Layne Staley of Alice in Chains Drug and Heroin AddictionAlice in Chains is an older alternative “grunge” rock band that may have been underrated at the time. The lead singer, Layne Staley fought a long battle with drug addiction, so much so that you could just about feel the pain in his voice when he sang. He was always very honest about his drug addiction through his lyrics which was a rare breath of fresh air.  Below, we share his story of drugs and addiction.  Spoiler alert – Layne’s story doesn’t possess a fairytale happy ending.  But it’s realistic and we hope that by sharing his story, those still suffering from drug addiction will wake up, desire change and get addiction help.

Heroin and drugs doesn’t care about one’s financial status or popularity.  Once hooked, addiction possesses the mind, body and soul and will try to take you underground.

Layne Staley’s Background

Layne Staley was born in Kirkland, Washington to Phil and Nancy Staley on August 22nd, 1967. Ever since he was a child he had an interest in music, and most certainly had talent. During his teenage years he spent his time playing the drums for different bands, probably not expecting any fame. In 1984 he became a member of a band called “Sleze.” The band played around different parts of Seattle, where grunge rock gained its popularity. The band was gaining momentum and changed the name from “Sleze” to “Alice in Chains.”

Alice in Chains were becoming icons amongst fans all over the world. On August 21st, 1990 their first album “Facelift” was released which contained a big hit “Man in The Box.” Their second album called “Dirt” was released in 1992, this album was very successful and mostly consisted of Layne’s struggle with addiction. In 1994, “Jar of Flies” was released and received rave reviews from music critics and landed a number one spot on the Billboard 200.

Layne Staley Suffered from Heroin Addiction

Even though Alice in Chains was thriving in their music career, Layne Staley struggled heavily with his heroin addiction. The year of 1994 was great for the band, but not for Layne. His drug addiction was growing more and more everyday. He was unable to go on tours because he was so sick.  He tried going to drug rehab but didn’t succeed in addiction treatment and went back to heroin.

In 1996, Alice in Chains performed on MTVs unplugged. Layne’s health was rapidly declining and was obvious during their performance. He was extremely thin, pale and had lost several teeth. He was sweating profusely and at times could not keep his eyes open. He was at an all time low.  That very same year his ex fiancé Demri, died of endocarditis due to drug use, his one and only love of his life. From 1996 up until 1998, Layne isolated and did not want to be in the public eye.

In 1998 Layne Staley helped Alice in Chains record two tracks for their album. His looks were very troubling to those around him, he weighed 80 pounds and was pale as a ghost. His last public appearance was on October 31st 1998 during a Jerry Cantrell solo show, Jerry asked him to sing, but Layne refused. The music industry was just waiting for Layne’s death.  In fact, “The Rocket” a magazine that published rock music articles had an obituary written for Layne on standby.

From 1999 until 2002, little was known about Layne Staley . He spent his days by himself in his Seattle condo, doing drugs, playing video games and creating art. Layne’s mother holds the last photo taken of him holding his newborn nephew, it is not public.

Layne Staley Isolates Himself in His Addiction

Other than seeing his nephew, Layne Staley would not communicate with any friends or his band members. The last few weeks of Layne’s life, he was seen at a bar called “Rainbow” where he would never order a drink but would sit by himself in a corner nodding off. One of Layne’s band members Kinney commented on his desperation to get addiction help for his friend.  He stated,

“I kept trying to make contact…three times a week, like clockwork, I’d call him, but he’d never answer. Every time I was in the area, I was up in front of his place yelling for him…even if you could get in his building, he wasn’t going to open the door. You’d phone and he wouldn’t answer. You couldn’t just kick the door in and grab him, though there were so many times I thought about doing that. But if someone won’t help themselves, what, really, can anyone else do?”

Layne Staley – Death By Heroin and Crack / Cocaine Overdose

On April 19th 2002, Layne Staley’s accountants became concerned when they saw that Layne had not taken any money out of his account in two weeks. They contacted his former manger, Susan Silver who then got in touch with Layne’s mother. His mother called 911 and told police that no one had seen or heard from Layne in 2 weeks.

The police went to Layne’s condo where they found Layne passed away on the couch; the television was flickering. He was surrounded by several spray paint cans, a stash of cocaine and crack pipes. Layne was 6’1 and weighed 86 pounds when he was discovered. According to the coroner, they can not determine an exact date of death due to decomposition of the body, but it is believed his death was caused by a mix of heroin and crack cocaine.


Layne Staley was an amazing musician who had raw talent. He got sucked into a life of drug use and was not able to break free from his demons and disease. His death was tragic and haunting. Nobody deserves to die like that. If you are struggling please reach out. Thanks for reading, sending love and support.

Quotes from Layne Staley About Heroin and Drug Addiction

“I’m not using drugs to get high like many people think. I know I made a big mistake when I started using this shit. It’s a very difficult thing to explain. My liver is not functioning and I’m throwing up all the time and shitting my pants. The pain is more than you can handle. It’s the worst pain in the world. Dope sick hurts the entire body.”

“People have the right to ask questions and dig deep when you’re hurting people and things around you, but when I haven’t talked to anyone in years, and every single article I see is dope this, junkie that, whiskey this – that ain’t my title…my bad habits aren’t my title. My strengths and talents are my title.”

“I wrote about drugs, and I didn’t think I was being unsafe or careless by writing about them. I didn’t want fans to think heroin was cool. But then I’ve had fans come up to me and give me the thumbs up, telling me they’re high. That’s exactly what I didn’t want to happen”.

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Written by Megan Sarah, Blogger for Kill the Heroin Epidemic Nationwide, Heroin News and the National Alliance of Addiction Treatment Centers (NAATC)

Edited and Published by William Charles, Founder/Owner/Publisher

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