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Alice in Chains History

Pre-Album History Early Alice in Chains 1991-1993 1994-1997 Late Alice in Chains

Pre-Album History

It all began 1987 in Seattle, Washington. Jerry Cantrell, a man who started off playing mostly small gig bands for sometime, and Mike Starr got to know each other. A short time later the man dating Starr's sister, Sean Kinney, got introduced to Jerry Cantrell.

Layne Staley was singer/drummer of a band named "Alice N' Chains," a glam rock band who dressed in drag and handed out condoms at shows. Cantrell and Staley met one night and decided along with the other "members" to start a new band. Diamond Lie was born.

Diamond Lie's first show was on August the fifth of 1987, shortly after, they decided on a different name and Alice in Chains was created. Alice in Chains' next show was almost two years later in February of 1989 where they played at the Central Tavern in Seattle with Mother Love Bone. For some time now Alice in Chains was being scouted by several publishers, but finally Alice in Chains decided to sign up with Columbia Records after learning that Mitch Miller was not the boss of A&R records.

Early Alice in Chains

In June of 1990 Alice in Chains released their first EP "We Die Young." The title track of the album soon became fairly popular and topped out as the number 5 spot on top metal tracks. Two months after the success of their first EP, Alice in Chains released their first full length album "Facelift." On September 15 Alice in Chains starts their US tour in Westminster, California. Later, in November, Alice in Chains hooked up with Iggy Pop and continued touring with him, introducing two new songs "Dirt" and "Rooster" to indifferent audiences. On December 22 of 1990 Alice in Chains played their first sold out show at the Moore Theater in Seattle. This concert was filmed by John Taft and released as the video "Live Facelift" later on.

After touring, the band released their first single "Man in the Box" in January of 1991 which received heavy play on MTV and radio, taking the single after 26 weeks into MTV's top 20. Alice in Chains later released the single "Sea of Sorrow" which was not as widely played. Finally towards the end of the month, Alice in Chains was nominated and lost the American Music Award for Favorite Heavy Metal Artist.

During early February Alice in Chains starred as a sleazy bar band in the motion picture "Singles," playing the songs "Would" and "It ain't Like That." A month after this, they tour again with Megadeth and are nominated for a Grammy in Best Heavy Metal Performance, but again lose. In May, after a month of total inactivity, Alice in Chains played in a two month tour with Slayer and others in the "Clash of the Titans" tour. After nine months since it's release, the combination "Facelift" and "Live Facelift" appear on the Billboard charts.


From August of 1991 to January of 1992 Alice in Chains toured with Van Halen. Eddie Van Halen thought Alice's members needed some new clothes and bought the band Doc Martins and plaid shirts, needless to say, no one wore them. Right before the tour Alice in Chains played their first TV performance on ABC's "In Concert." While on the tour, Cantrell "blows his chance for Rock immortality" and skydives with Megadeth's Dave Mustaine. During Cantrell's fall from the plane, his parachute fails but luckily opens at the last second.

September of 1991 graced Alice in Chains with their first gold album "Facelift," so taking a one month break from touring Alice in Chains records and releases a short EP "Sap," named after a dream that Sean Kinney had. In December 1991 Jerry Cantrell was out hunting with his brother and believed that November had 31 days, needless to say he missed the December 1 concert. Cantrell was instantly put on a missing persons list, but when he returned later was removed from it and received a calander for Christmas from his record company, Columbia. At the same time Alice in Chains was voted Best New Band in reader's polls in RIP and Guitar for the Practicing Musician magazines.

While on the road, Layne Staley faces problems with his heroin addiction. He later gets over it and writes about it on the soon to be (at the time) released album "Dirt." In March of 1992, Alice in Chains appeared on Entertainment Tonight and gave a visual tour of the "Seattle Scene;" rock halls, clubs, etc. Later in April, Alice in Chains began recording their second album "Dirt" in Los Angeles with Dave Jerden and the band co-producing. Released in September of 1992, the album went on to sell more than 3 million copies and the first single "Would" was also put on the soundtrack to the movie "Singles," earning MTV's Best Song from a Movie. The band went on to release more singles; "Angry Chair," "Them Bones," "Down in a Hole," and "Rooster" (MTV would not play it, due to realism of the scenes in Vietnam) which featured Jerry Cantrell's father, Jerry Sr. "Dirt" later won SPIN's Album of the Year Award, which in celebration Sean Kinney decides to throw his coffee table out his window. Later in the year Alice in Chains played with Ozzy Osbourne, but near disaster hits when Layne Staley manages to run his foot over with his ATV. Staley continued the tour and made every a wheelchair and occasionally crutches.

In January of 1993 Alice in Chains played the Hollywood Festival in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. Mike Starr "grew tired of touring" and left the band, never to return, joining the crap-rock band Sun Red Sun. Mike Inez, who had until recently played as Ozzy Osbourne's bassist, finished Alice in Chains' European tour with them and later became the permanent bassist, the "new guy" was his nickname.

Alice in Chains returned to the United States to record the songs "A Little Bitter" and "What the Hell Have I?" for the motion picture "Last Action Hero." Alice in Chains predicted the movie to be the biggest box office hit of all time, they were a bit wrong. Arnold Schwarzenegger, always the kidder, calls Alice in Chains "those punks from Seattle." In 1993's crazy summer, Alice in Chains headlined Lollapalooza. The band performed with some of the greatest groups of the "new rock age," Primus, TOOL, Rage Against the Machine and others. Layne Staley decided hair sucked and shaved his head down to a buzz cut and wears tailored suits during the show.

When Lollapalooza was finished, Alice in Chains went back to their home to find out they were evicted. It seemed that Staley thought Jerry paid the rent, while Jerry thought Mike...etc. so the band moved into London Bridge Studio. Fairly bored and a little depressed over being quasi-homeless, Alice in Chains records their third EP "Jar of Flies" in seven days. Inspired by the success and sound of "Sap," Alice in Chains decides to also release "Jar of Flies" as a double CD set with gone-gold EP "Sap." Alice in Chains rushed around trying to get out "Jar of Flies" after hearing a rumor that "rival" Stone Temple Pilots was coming out with an acoustic CD also. "Jar of Flies" was named after a Jerry Cantrell high school science project. After completing "Jar of Flies" Alice in Chains did a short month and a half tour called "Down in Your Hole," and subsequently the video for "Down in a Hole" was shot. "Them Bones" was then released as a single in September of 1993.


January 18, 1994 signified the release of the phenominal (in my opinion "best") album/EP "Jar of Flies," which went on to be the only and first ever EP to debut at number 1 on the Billboard Charts. In February "No Excuses" was released as a single and got OK exposure on MTV, but extremely heavy rotation on radio. Alice in Chains then released the interesting video for "I Stay Away." "Jar of Flies" went on to sell over two million copies, going double platinum in a record amount of time. Noticing Alice in Chains success, and wishing to profit from it, Metallica asked Alice in Chains to open for them, but because of Layne Staley's recently returned drug problem they do not accept. Layne's drug problems also stopped Alice in Chains from making scheduled appearences at Woodstock and the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame.

During the period between "Jar of Flies" and the upcoming release "Alice in Chains" (commonly referred to as "Tripod," although, this is NOT the working name for the album) the band members kept themselves farily busy in other side projects, while letting Layne cool off in another band "Mad Season." (formerly called "The Gacy Bunch"). In March of 1995 Alice in Chains was nominated for another Grammy with "I Stay Away," but as with the typically odd Grammy people, lost again.

In April of 1995 Alice in Chains went back into the studio to record their third (and sadly last, as of January 25, 2001) album. Originally the title of the album was in fact "Tripod," after a three legged dog that would chase Sean Kinney around as he was a small boy and as their third album. But finally the band decided that Sean had his glory with "Sap," so they went with a self title, but kept the three legged dog for the cover. The album only took about four months to create and was released on November 25, 1995 and debuted at number one on the Billboard. The album went double platinum (2 million plus copies sold) and the first single off of it "Grind" graced us with a...well, great video and graced Alice in chains with a number three spot on the Top 20 Countdown. Sean Kinney and Jerry Cantrell then went to Australia to promote their album. Soon after, Alice in Chains was nominated for a Grammy for "Grind," but we all know what happens to Alice in Chains at the Grammies, they lost to Pearl Jam's "Spin the Black Circle." Mike McReady of Pearl Jam accepted the award and annointed Alice in Chains with a new title, "The Mighty Alice in Chains." Mike Inez got bored, and pissed for losing to Pearl Jam, then went to tour again with Ozzy Osbourne.

Hoping for a tour, fans waited patiently while catching Alice in Chains on such shows as Saturday Night Special (where they performed "God Am"), The David Letterman Show (playing "Again" and "We Die Young"), and showing up on MTV's unplugged (which aired May 22, 1996). When Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots got thrown in rehab, again, and couldn't open for KISS, Alice in Chains tried to get on their idol's tour. Well, for a few shows this really crappy band played (I was at the Chicago show at the Rosemont) until Alice in Chains was brought on for four shows (Kansas City, Detroit, Louisville, St. Louis). On July 28, 1996 Alice in Chains released the album "Unplugged" from their performance on MTV's similarly titled show where it was recorded. This acoustic album debuted at number three on the Billboard charts and in only one month went Platinum, currently (January 25, 2001) it is triple platinum.

The prophets told of a tour by Alice in Chains, but as prophets usually are, they were wrong. Jerry Cantrell and Sean Kinney recorded "Leave me Alone" for the motion picture "The Cable Guy" soundtrack which was released September of 1996. A few months later, Jerry Cantrell played a cameo in "Jerry Maguire" as a Kinko's Copies employee. February of 1997 showed yet another Grammy nomination for Best Heavy Metal Performance with "Again" as the track, again, Alice in Chains lost, this time to Metallica for the poppy butt-rock song "Until it Sleeps."

Late Alice in Chains

Officially stagnating as a band, Jerry Cantrell temporarily split from the group and with Sean Kinney recorded his first solo album "Boggy Depot." This album sounded like Alice in Chains, and could have technically been called Alice in Chains (It WAS Cantrell and Kinney) but lacked the eerie vibrato of Layne Staley. Still, an excellent project by one of the best musicians out there.

Two years after the last sign of Alice in Chains, a new album came out. This album "Nothing Safe: Best of the Box" was a compilation thrown together of rare live tracks, vintage Alice in Chains, and a new song "Get Born Again." This compilation also signified the imminent return of new and old Alice in Chains with the HUGE 4-CD boxed set of "Music Bank" which included more rare tracks, some unreleased songs, some brand new songs, and more vintage songs. Most recently, Alice in Chains released in 2000 a new album "Live" which is a collection of live Alice in Chains performances.

Special thanks to this one site I stumbled on, which helped clarify some things, like the original name of Alice in Chains and exact release dates of "Facelift" and "Dirt." I wish I had a URL, but it's been defunct for some time now.

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