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Date Posted: 23:43:30 02/05/16 Fri
Author: robin
Subject: Alice in Chains

Alice in Chains is an American rock band formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1987 by guitarist and songwriter Jerry Cantrell and original lead vocalist Layne Staley. The initial lineup was rounded out by drummer Sean Kinney and bassist Mike Starr, who was replaced in 1993 by Mike Inez.

Although widely associated with grunge music, the band's sound incorporates heavy metal elements. Since its formation, Alice in Chains has released five studio albums, three EPs, two live albums, four compilations, and two DVDs. The band is known for its distinctive vocal style, which often included the harmonized vocals of Staley and Cantrell (And later William DuVall).

Alice in Chains rose to international fame as part of the grunge movement of the early 1990s, along with other Seattle bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden. The band was one of the most successful music acts of the 1990s, selling over 20 million albums worldwide,[1] and over 14 million in the US alone.[2] In 1992 the band's second album, Dirt, was released to critical acclaim and was certified quadruple platinum. Their third album, Alice in Chains, was released in 1995 and has been certified double platinum. Both albums achieved No. 1 Billboard 200 releases. The band has had 14 top ten songs on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and nine Grammy Award nominations.

Although never officially disbanding, Alice in Chains was plagued by extended inactivity from 1996 onwards due to Staley's substance abuse, which resulted in his death in 2002. The band reunited in 2005 for a live benefit show, performing with a number of guest vocalists. They toured in 2006, with William DuVall taking over as lead vocalist full-time. The new line-up released the band's fourth studio album, Black Gives Way to Blue, in 2009. The album received gold certification by the RIAA. In 2013, the band released The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, its fifth studio album.[3] The band has toured extensively and released several videos in support of these albums. Alice in Chains is currently working on their sixth studio album

History
Formation and early years (1984–89)

Before the formation of Alice in Chains, then-drummer[5][6] Layne Staley landed his first gig as a vocalist when he auditioned to sing for a local glam metal band known as Sleze after receiving some encouragement from his stepbrother Ken Elmer.[5][6] Other members of this group at that time were guitarists Johnny Bacolas and Zoli Semanate, drummer James Bergstrom, and bassist Byron Hansen.[5] This band went through several lineup changes culminating with Nick Pollock as their sole guitarist and Bacolas switching to bass before discussions arose about changing their name to Alice in Chains.[7] This was prompted by a conversation that Bacolas had with a singer from another band about backstage passes.[7] Due to concerns over the reference to female bondage, the group ultimately chose to spell it differently as Alice N' Chains to allay any parental concerns, though Staley's mother Nancy McCallum has said she was still not happy with this name at first

Staley met guitarist Jerry Cantrell while working with Alice N' Chains at Music Bank rehearsal studios. The two struggling musicians became roommates, living in a rehearsal space they shared. Alice N' Chains soon disbanded, and Staley joined a funk band that also required a guitarist at the time. Staley asked Cantrell to join as a sideman. Cantrell agreed on condition that Staley join Cantrell's band, which at the time included drummer Sean Kinney and bassist Mike Starr. Eventually the funk project broke up, and in 1987 Staley joined Cantrell's band on a full-time basis, playing in clubs around the Pacific Northwest, often stretching 15 minutes of material into a 45-minute set. The band played a couple of gigs, calling themselves different monikers, including Diamond Lie, the name of Cantrell's previous band,[8] before eventually adopting the name that Staley's previous band had initially flirted with, Alice in Chains.[9][10]

Local promoter Randy Hauser became aware of the band at a concert and offered to pay for demo recordings. However, one day before the band was due to record at the Music Bank studio in Washington, police shut down the studio during the biggest cannabis raid in the history of the state.[9] The final demo, completed in 1988, was named The Treehouse Tapes and found its way to the music managers Kelly Curtis and Susan Silver, who also managed the Seattle-based band Soundgarden. Curtis and Silver passed the demo on to Columbia Records' A&R representative Nick Terzo, who set up an appointment with label president Don Ienner. Based on The Treehouse Tapes, Ienner signed Alice in Chains to Columbia in 1989.[9] The band also recorded another untitled demo over a three-month period in 1989. This recording can be found on the bootleg release Sweet Alice

Alice in Chains soon became a top priority of the label, which released the band's first official recording in July 1990, a promotional EP called We Die Young. The EP's lead single, "We Die Young", became a hit on metal radio. After its success, the label rushed Alice in Chains' debut album into production with producer Dave Jerden.[12] Cantrell stated the album was intended to have a "moody aura" that was a "direct result of the brooding atmosphere and feel of Seattle".[13]

The resulting album, Facelift, was released on August 21, 1990, peaking at number 42 in the summer of 1991 on the Billboard 200 chart.[14] Facelift was not an instant success, selling under 40,000 copies in the first six months of release, until MTV added "Man in the Box" to regular daytime rotation.[15] The single hit number 18 on the Mainstream rock charts, with the album's follow up single, "Sea of Sorrow", reaching number 27,[16] and in six weeks Facelift sold 400,000 copies in the US.[15] The album was a critical success, with Steve Huey of AllMusic citing Facelift as "one of the most important records in establishing an audience for grunge and alternative rock among hard rock and heavy metal listeners."

Facelift was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) by the end of 1990, while the band continued to hone its audience, opening for such artists as Iggy Pop,[18] Van Halen, Poison,[13] and Extreme.[15] In early 1991, Alice in Chains landed the opening slot for the Clash of the Titans tour with Anthrax, Megadeth, and Slayer, exposing the band to a wide metal audience but receiving mainly poor reception.[19] Alice in Chains was nominated for a Best Hard Rock Performance Grammy Award in 1992 for "Man in the Box" but lost to Van Halen for their 1991 album For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.[20]

Following the tour, Alice in Chains entered the studio to record demos for its next album, but ended up recording five acoustic songs instead.[15] While in the studio, drummer Sean Kinney had a dream about "making an EP called Sap".[18] The band decided "not to mess with fate", and on March 21, 1992, Alice in Chains released their second EP, Sap. The EP was released while Nirvana's Nevermind was at the top of the Billboard 200 charts, resulting in a rising popularity of Seattle-based bands, and of the term "grunge music".[15] Sap was certified gold within two weeks. The EP features guest vocals by Ann Wilson from the band Heart, who joined Staley and Cantrell for the choruses of "Brother", "Am I Inside", and "Love Song". The EP also features Mark Arm of Mudhoney and Chris Cornell of Soundgarden, who appeared together on the song "Right Turn", credited to "Alice Mudgarden" in the liner notes.[21] In 1992, Alice in Chains appeared in the Cameron Crowe film Singles, performing as a "bar band".[22] The band also contributed the song "Would?" to the film's soundtrack, whose video received an award for Best Video from a Film at the 1993 MTV Video Music Awards

Alice in Chains (1995–96)

While Alice in Chains was inactive during 1995, Staley joined the "grunge supergroup" Mad Season, which also featured Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready, bassist John Baker Saunders from The Walkabouts, and Screaming Trees drummer Barrett Martin. Mad Season released one album, Above, for which Staley provided lead vocals and the album artwork. The album spawned a number-two single, "River of Deceit", as well as a home video release of Live at the Moore.[26] In April 1995, Alice in Chains entered Bad Animals Studio in Seattle with producer Toby Wright, who had previously worked with Corrosion of Conformity and Slayer.[36] While in the studio, an inferior version of the song "Grind" was leaked to radio, and received major airplay.[37] On October 6, 1995, the band released the studio version of the song to radio via satellite uplink. On November 7, 1995, Columbia Records released the eponymous album, Alice in Chains,[36] which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200[14] and has since been certified double platinum. Of the album's four singles, "Grind", "Again", "Over Now", and "Heaven Beside You", three feature Cantrell on lead vocals. Jon Wiederhorn of Rolling Stone called the album "liberating and enlightening, the songs achieve a startling, staggering and palpable impact."[38] The song "Got Me Wrong" unexpectedly charted three years after its release on the Sap EP. The song was re-released as a single on the soundtrack for the independent film Clerks in 1995, reaching number seven on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.[39] The band opted not to tour in support of Alice in Chains, adding to the rumors of drug abuse.[35][40]

Alice in Chains resurfaced on April 10, 1996, to perform their first concert in three years for MTV Unplugged, a program featuring all-acoustic set lists.[41][42] The performance featured some of the band's highest charting singles, including "Down in a Hole", "Heaven Beside You", and "Would?", and introduced a new song, "Killer Is Me". The show marked Alice in Chains' only appearance as a five-piece band, adding second guitarist Scott Olson.[41] A live album of the performance was released in July 1996, debuting at number three on the Billboard 200,[14] and was accompanied by a home video release, both of which received platinum certification by the RIAA. Alice in Chains performed four shows supporting the reunited original Kiss lineup, including the final live appearance of Layne Staley on July 3, 1996, in Kansas City, Missouri. Shortly after the show, Staley was found unresponsive after he overdosed on heroin and was taken to the hospital. Although he recovered, the band was forced to go on hiatus.[43]
Hiatus and the death of Layne Staley (1996–2002)

Although Alice in Chains never officially disbanded, Staley became a recluse, rarely leaving his Seattle condominium following the death of his ex-fiancée Demri Parrott due to infective endocarditis.[26] "Drugs worked for me for years", Staley told Rolling Stone in 1996, "and now they're turning against me... now I'm walking through hell".[40] Unable to continue with new Alice in Chains material, Cantrell released his first solo album, Boggy Depot, in 1998, also featuring Sean Kinney and Mike Inez.[44] In 1998, Staley reunited with Alice in Chains to record two new songs, "Get Born Again" and "Died". Originally intended for Cantrell's second solo album, the songs were reworked by Alice in Chains and were released in the fall of 1999 on the box set, Music Bank. The set contains 48 songs, including rarities, demos, and previously released album tracks and singles.[9] The band also released a 15-track compilation titled Nothing Safe: Best of the Box, serving as a sampler for Music Bank, as well as the band's first compilation album; a live album, simply titled Live, released on December 5, 2000; and a second compilation, titled Greatest Hits in 2001.[45]

By 2002, Cantrell had finished work on his second solo album, Degradation Trip. Written in 1998, the album's lyrical content focused heavily on what Cantrell regarded as the demise of Alice in Chains, which still remained evident as the album approached its June 2002 release. However, in March that year, Cantrell commented, "We're all still around, so it's possible [Alice in Chains] could all do something someday, and I fully hope someday we will."[46]

After a decade of battling drug addiction, Layne Staley was found dead in his condominium on April 19, 2002, two weeks after his actual death.[47] His mother and stepfather became alarmed when accountants noticed that money was no longer being withdrawn from his accounts. With assistance from the police, they broke into his condo and made the discovery. An autopsy revealed Staley had died from a mixture of heroin and cocaine. His friends speculate that in addition to drugs, he may have contracted an illness that his body could not fight off, due to a compromised immune system. In his last interview, given months before his death, Staley admitted, "I know I'm near death, I did crack and heroin for years. I never wanted to end my life this way."[48] Cantrell dedicated his 2002 solo album, released two months after Staley's death, to his memory

Black Gives Way to Blue (2008–10)

Blabbermouth.net reported in September 2008 that Alice in Chains would enter the studio that October to begin recording a new album for a summer 2009 release.[54] In October 2008, Alice in Chains began recording its fourth studio album at the Foo Fighters' Studio 606 in Los Angeles with producer Nick Raskulinecz.[55] At the Revolver Golden God Awards, Jerry Cantrell said that the group had finished recording in March 2009 and were mixing the album for a September release.[56] In April 2009, it was reported that the new Alice in Chains album would be released by Virgin/EMI,[57] making it the band's first label change in its 20-plus year career. On June 11, 2009, Blabbermouth.net reported that the new album would be titled Black Gives Way to Blue and was officially set to be released on September 29, 2009.[1] On June 30, 2009, the song "A Looking in View" was released as the first single from the album. It was made available for a limited time as a free download through the official Alice in Chains website in early July. The music video for the song debuted via the official website on July 7, 2009.[58] The second single, "Check My Brain", was released to radio stations on August 14, 2009 and was made available for purchase on August 17, 2009.[59] In addition, it was announced that Elton John appears on the album's title track.[60]

In September 2008, it was announced that Alice in Chains would headline Australia's Soundwave Festival in 2009, alongside Nine Inch Nails and Lamb of God.[61] In February 2009, it was also announced that Alice in Chains would play at the third annual Rock on the Range festival.[62] On August 1, 2009, Alice in Chains performed, along with Mastodon, Avenged Sevenfold, and Glyder, at Marlay Park, Dublin as direct support to Metallica. The band made an appearance on Later Live ... With Jools Holland on November 10, 2009, performing "Lesson Learned", "Black Gives Way To Blue", and "Check My Brain" as the final performance of the episode.

To coincide with the band's European tour, Alice in Chains released its next single, "Your Decision", on November 16 in the UK and on December 1 in the US.[63][64] The fourth single from the album was "Lesson Learned" and was released to rock radio in mid-June.[65] On May 18, 2010, Black Gives Way to Blue was certified gold by the RIAA for shipments of over 500,000 copies.

Along with Mastodon and Deftones, Alice in Chains toured the United States and Canada in late 2010 on the Blackdiamondskye tour, an amalgam of the three bands' latest album titles (Black Gives Way to Blue, Diamond Eyes, and Crack the Skye).
Future plans and the death of Mike Starr (2010–2011)

In April 2010, Cantrell revealed to MTV News that Alice in Chains was contemplating making a fifth studio album in the foreseeable future. He explained, "There are thoughts. We'll see how far we get. Staying in the moment is a good way to live and we certainly hope that it happens. I don't see any reason why it wouldn't [happen]."[66] DuVall also commented on the next album and Alice in Chains' future, "we've got a lot of water to sail before we do that. There's a lot of shows. But yeah, generally speaking, yeah, we're excited about the future. I don't anticipate some long layoff."[67]

DuVall revealed in September 2010 that Alice in Chains had not begun writing their next album yet, but "there's plenty of riffs flying around." He added, "That was the case when we first started back up. We would just stockpile these fragments, and then some time later we would sift through the mountain of stuff, and that's what became Black Gives Way to Blue. The same thing has been happening since we've been touring Black Gives Way to Blue, so it would be only natural to at some point say, 'Hey, we've got a lot of stuff. Let's sift through and see what we've got this time.'" DuVall also mentioned that it was possible that the new album would feature songs that were written for Black Gives Way to Blue.[68]

On March 8, 2011, former Alice in Chains bassist Mike Starr was found dead at his home in Salt Lake City. Police told Reuters they were called to Starr's home at 1:42 pm and found his body; Starr was 44. Reports later surfaced that Starr's roommate had seen him mixing methadone and anxiety medication hours before he was found dead. Later reports indicated Starr's death may have been linked to two different types of antidepressants prescribed to him by his doctor.[69][70][71] A public memorial was held for Starr at the Seattle Center's International Fountain on March 20, 2011.[72] A private memorial was also held, which Jerry Cantrell and Sean Kinney attended according to Mike Inez.[73]
The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here and next album (2011–present)

On March 21, 2011, Alice in Chains announced that they were working on a fifth studio album,[74][75] and both Cantrell and Inez later made statements that they had begun the recording process. The album was expected to be finished by summer of 2012 and released by the end of 2012 or beginning of 2013. While Alice in Chains were writing for the album in 2011, Cantrell required surgery, which delayed recording the new material. In an interview published in May 2012, Cantrell explained, "The thing that set me back is I had some bone spurs [and] cartilage issues in my shoulders. I had the same issue in the other shoulder about six years ago so I've had them both done now. It's a repetitive motion injury from playing.

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