Heroin paraphernalia found around Alice in Chains' Staley
Monday, April 22, 2002
Layne Staley's death may have been as dark as the lyrics he sang for grunge rock supergroup Alice in Chains.
Staley, 34, lay dead in his North Seattle apartment for two weeks, his body surrounded by heroin-injection paraphernalia, before a relative discovered him, authorities said yesterday.
Foul play was not suspected, and there was to be no criminal investigation, Seattle police spokesman Duane Fish said.
"There was nothing suspicious about the death. It appears to be overdose or possibly a natural death," Fish said.
Staley's body was reported found Friday, but the presence of drug paraphernalia and the estimated time of death were not initially released.
An autopsy was conducted Saturday, but the cause of death will not be confirmed for as long as four weeks while a state lab conducts toxin tests, the King County Medical Examiner's Office said yesterday.
Behind Staley's wailing vocals and Jerry Cantrell's driving guitar riffs, Alice and Chains became one of the biggest acts to emerge from the Seattle grunge phenomenon of the early 1990s, putting it in the same league with Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. The group's debut, "Facelift," got significant national airplay, and its 1994 "Jar of Flies" debuted at No. 1 on the charts.
More than 200 friends and fans attended a candlelight vigil Saturday night at the Seattle Center's massive fountain.
Yesterday, the memorial continued on a much smaller scale.
A handful of people stood with a lone candle, their tears mingling with mist from the fountain as they recalled why they loved Staley.
"He was someone who epitomized how life can be tough. I can totally relate. I've had problems with depression myself," said Trent Bolton, 25, of Seattle, who came with his wife.
Bolton said he and his buddies used to listen to Alice in Chains whenever they got together.
Rob Hamilton, 29, came from Bremerton yesterday to pay his respects.
"It's really sad when someone slips through the cracks," said the self-described recovering addict.
For Alice in Chains fan Cain Rurup, Saturday's memorial for Staley was a long-overdue tribute to one of his rock idols.
"It's the least I could do for what he gave to me," said Rurup, who organized the vigil.
"Every Alice in Chains album came out at a time of my life when I really needed it," Rurup said. "They fit like pieces of a puzzle. I think they saved my life, because I had some of the same addictions."
Staley, whose raspy, wailing vocals gave Alice in Chains its distinctive sound, wrote songs about heroin use and other personal struggles. The band stopped touring in the mid-'90s when Staley's drug use worsened.
"Layne's passing is a terrible, terrible loss to the ones who loved him and to the music community," said Johnny Bacolas of Seattle rock band Second Coming.
Staley was an early ally of Second Coming. He recorded a song with the group and sang at several performances.
"When we were teenagers, we used to nickname him 'the legend,'" Bacolas said.
In July 1994, Staley -- along with Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Peter Klett of Candlebox -- were elected to Playgirl magazine's Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Hunkdom.
But Staley's appearance had already begun to deteriorate.
At KISW-FM's "Rockstock" concert at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds in Bremerton in May 1994 -- just a month after Kurt Cobain killed himself with a shotgun -- Staley made a surprise appearance. He looked sickly and wore a wool ski mask to hide his face.
At the Saturday memorial, Alice in Chains singer and guitarist Cantrell hugged friends and supporters but said very little.
"Jerry really loved Layne," said Cantrell's manager, Bill Siddons. "They had a bond I haven't seen before."
At the edge of the fountain, fans placed notes and signs next to flowers and candles.
One of the larger signs read, "There's only one thing left to say -- 'Say Hello to Heaven.'" It was a reference to a song from the 1990 "Temple of the Dog" album recorded by members of Soundgarden and Mother Love Bone as a tribute to the latter band's late lead singer, Andrew Wood, who died in 1990 from a heroin overdose.
On a tall jar holding a candle, someone else wrote, "We love U, Layne." Another note read simply, "Heroin Kills."