With the grunge movement of the early parts of the 1990s, a good number of Seattle bands were born including Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden. One that would likewise be very successful and popular in the years and decades to come is Alice in Chains. The band which began in 1987 incorporates various genres such as metal rock, hard rock, and alternative rock although it is more associated with grunge music. Before looking at Alice in Chains Members, it is important to point out that the band as it is today, came out from another band, Sleze which was originally formed in 1984 with Layne Staley and Johnny Bacolas among its earliest members. However, the band broke in 1987 and it was this time that its name changed to Alice N’ Chains with some members.
Currently, Alice in Chains members are Jerry Cantrell, Sean Kinney, Mike Inez, and William DuVall while the past members are Layne Staley and Mike Starr. One of the most successful rock bands, Alice in Chains has sold more than 30 million records globally while in the US, the Grammy-nominated band has sold more than 14 million.
Who are Alice in Chains Members?
1. Jerry Cantrell
Lead vocals and rhythm guitar (1987–2002, 2005–present)
Born Jerry Fulton Cantrell Jr. in 1966, he is the lead guitarist and co-vocalist of the band which he co-founded. Since he was just a kid, what Jerry was interested in becoming was a rockstar. Nonetheless, it was until the sixth grade that he first handled a guitar thanks to a guitarist that his mother was dating. Impressed by how fast he picked the cords he was taught, the boyfriend advised Catrell’s mom to get a guitar for him and that was how he got his first guitar.
In 1985, Jerry Cantrell left school and was off to Texas with his friends to join a band. However, he returned to Tacoma where he started a band called Diamond Lie. It was while he was there that he met Layne Staley, who was the vocalist of Alice N’ Chains.
It was almost at this time that the Alice N’ Chains broke and Staley joined Diamond Lie which was already making a name for itself in the Seattle area and before long, the name was changed to Alice in Chains.
From then on, he remained a member of the band although he has also had a solo career that has seen him with two albums; Boggy Depot in 1998 and Degradation Trip in 2002.
2. Sean Kinney
Drums (1987–2002, 2005–present)
Kinney is one of the Alice in Chain members that have been there since it all began. Born in 1966, Sean Kinney had always had an interest in music since he was just a child. He got his first drum at the age of 5. The first band that he played for was his grandfather’s The Cross Cats when he was only 7.
His journey to founding and becoming a part of Alice in Chains began when he met Layne Staley in 1985. At the time, Staley was with his band, Sleze. When Kinney met him, he told him that while he was cool, he would need to change his drummer because it sucked, suggesting that he be the replacement. In 1987 when Alice in Chains was set to start, he got the call to become their drummer.
Through the years, Kinney has made guest appearances for some stars including Jerry Cantrell, Johnny Cash, Metallica, and Mad Season.
3. Mike Inez
Bass (1993–2002, 2005–present)
In 1993, Inez became the first person to join the band since its formation in 1987. Joining other Alice in Chain members, he came in to take the place of the band’s bassist Mike Starr who had left after the band’s first album.
Born in 1966, Mike Inez began his career playing the guitar and saxophone. He first became famous for working with Ozzy Osbourne from 1989-1993. In the years that followed, he also worked with various acts including Slash’s Snakepit in 1995, Jerry Cantrell and Spys4Darwin in 1998, and Black Label Society from 2001 to 2004. More so, he has also worked with Heart from 2002 to 2006.
4. William DuVall
Vocals, rhythm, and lead guitar (2006–present)
The newest member of Alice in Chains, DuVall joined the band in 2006 as a replacement for the original lead vocalist of the band, Layne Staley making him the band’s co-vocalist with Jerry Cantrell.
Born September 6, 1967, William DuVall began his musical career back in the 1980s Awareness Void of Chaos before going on to cofound the hardcore punk band, Neon Christ. After the band ended, he joined Bl’ast as its second guitarist.
Also a songwriter, his next project was founding Final Offering in 1987 which coincided with the formation of Alice in Chains. In the years that followed, the worked with other bands including No Walls and Giraffe Tongue Orchestra which was founded in 2012. He is also the lead vocalist of the band.
He worked on Black Gives Way to Blue (2009), The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here (2013), and Rainier Fog (2018) with Alice in Chains.
Past Alice in Chains Members
1. Layne Staley
Lead vocals and rhythm guitar (1987–2002)
Probably the most important member of the band when it was formed, Layne Staley was one of the main founders of the band together with Jerry Cantrell. He was with his band, Alice N’ Chains when he first met Cantrell whom he would later home after Cantrell was thrown out from home and homeless.
After his band fell apart and they underwent many transformations, Staley formed what will later be known as Alice in Chain together with Cantrell, Sean Kinney, and Mike Starr. Although he was great with his music, he struggled with drug addiction that saw him in and out of rehab. Following the death of Demri Lara Parrott, his former fiancée, the singer was down with depression and he continued his battle with drugs and depression, something that would lead to his death in 2002
2. Mike Starr
To complete Alice in Chains members is one of its founders, Mike Starr who became the first person to leave the band since its formation. Born in 1966, he first formed Sato which was a heavy metal band before going on to join another band, Gypsy Rose where he met Jerry Cantrell. He later joined Cantrell and Staley who were working on a new band that would come to be known as Alice in Chains.
Just after the release of the band’s first album, Dirt in 1993 and the commercial success that followed, Starr found himself out of the band. While Staley revealed that the exit of Starr was following his choice to return home while the band wanted to continue touring, he revealed that he was kicked out as a result of the drug issues that he was having at the time.
He would go on to work with Sun Red Sun and was said to be working on a new band, Days of the New before his death in 2011.
7 Facts You Didn’t Know About Them
1. Before coming to be known as Alice in Chains, the band had gone through a lot of changes prior to pulling its name from the former Alice N’ Chains which had Layne Staley as a former member. It also tried names such as F**k and Diamond Lie.
2. In 1993, Mike Starr was booted out of the band, according to him, because of his drug abuse. Ironically, one of the main people in the band, Staley will also have issues with drugs including addiction because of which he was in and out of rehab many times.
3. In 2002, Alice in Chains broke apart before finally coming back together in 2005. All the members that were a part of it when it broke returned except Staley who died in 2002.
4. Years before his death, Layne Staley revealed in an interview that he knew he was coming closer to his death and it was already too late for him, stating that he no chance. More so, he revealed that drugs had always worked for him when he was starting but it was now working against him so he wasn’t sure he had any much time left.
5. According to Toby Wright who has once produced for the band, Alice in Chains has more than 20 to 30 instrumental tracks that have not been voiced. According to him, the instrumentals were made a long time ago and have not been used on any of the band’s works. This means that they may not even be used again.
6. Apart from their music, Alice in Chains members have appeared in films including the mockumentary, “Alice in Chains: AIC” 23 in 2013.
7. In numbers, the band has sold over 30 million copies all over the world, it has 6 albums, 3 live albums, 5 compilation albums, 3 EPs, and 6 soundtrack albums. The main albums are Facelift (1990), Dirt (1992), Alice in Chains (1995), Black Gives Way to Blue (2009), The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here (2013), and Rainier Fog (2018). It has won none from the 10 Grammy nominations it has gotten. Ahead of the 2019 Grammy awards, it has been nominated for Best Rock Album for Rainier Fog.