How A 'Parade Of Idiots' Prompted Layne Staley To Join Alice In Chains

By Andrew Magnotta @AndrewMagnotta

July 17, 2020

Jerry Cantrell and Layne Staley were roommates and part-time bandmates some time before they co-founded Alice In Chains together.

Staley was juggling multiple musical projects when Cantrell moved in with him in 1987. While he wasn't looking for another band, he was keen on helping Cantrell get his own thing off the ground.

With Staley's help, Cantrell connected with bassist Mike Starr and drummer Sean Kinney. Those three began laying the groundwork for what would become one of the most important hard rock bands of the '90s.

While Staley would jam with them occasionally, he was reluctant to leave his other bands to start fresh.

"After a period of time, Sean and Mike and I were kind of tired of that," Cantrell recalled to GibsonTV. "[We were] cocky, we were like, 'We're better than those f---ing guys.' You know what I mean? 'You need to jump ship and come over here and play with us.'"

Staley resisted, so Cantrell, Starr and Kinney asked themselves, "How do we get him to quit his other side projects?"

They decided to move forward and audition singers...but in Staley's rehearsal space.

"He wasn't really mad about it, but he was a little irked, I think," Cantrell said. "...We had a couple of days where we had just a parade of idiots coming into the room who were just horrible. One guy was like a male stripper with bright red hair. He had spandex with handkerchiefs all the way down to his feet, like trying to be a knockoff David Lee Roth, just horrible, couldn't sing worth a s--t. We tried a couple of guys out and he was the last one. Layne was working the desk so these guys would walk through and then he'd get to hear through the wall us trying to play with them.

"After that last dude, the male stripper guy, he came down and he was like, 'All right. I'm in. I can't let you guys be playing with these f---ing guys.'"

Cantrell says they conceded that they weren't really serious. They just wanted to get Staley "pissed off enough to join."

"So he quit all his other bands and that's how we started."

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Photo: Getty Images

Alice in ChainsJerry Cantrell

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